A lesson in preparedness (that I’m still learning)

Credit: Laura Hutton/Collin

The first day of spring semester, sophomore year. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2018. 8 a.m.

Carroll Hall. The UNC School of Media and Journalism (currently the Hussman School of Journalism and Media). The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

MEJO 121: Intro to Digital Storytelling. 

Now that I’ve set the scene. Let me tell you the story of how I learned about Murphy’s Law. The hard way. 

It was my first day as a student of the J School. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and beyond excited to take classes I was actually interested in. As someone who made countless “music videos” and “audition tapes”  throughout my youth, I was pumped to actually learn how to properly use a camera. 

Our professor walked in and after introducing himself he got serious and told us if there was anything to remember before we started the semester, it was Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. 

And I should have listened. 

I did the first assignment the day before it was due. I’d done it plenty of times before and things had gone off without a hitch. But the assignment had to be done outdoors and it was raining. I had to be careful to shield the school’s camera from rain – afraid even one drop of water would result in damage and thus a large fine. 

Then my files wouldn’t upload to the class site so I had to email my professor, let him know the situation and bring all the files to class on a USB. He had told us to plan for these things and I hadn’t. As I finished uploading the files, he reminded me of Murphy’s Law and sent me on my way. 

However, I was convinced this was a one off occurrence. I

It wasn’t. 

The second assignment, done fairly last minute went wrong as well. My mic didn’t work and all the audio was fuzzy, deeming the entirety of the interview I had gotten unusable. 

And that wasn’t the end of it.

The week leading up to our final project due date, I got the flu. When I realized I wasn’t going to get it done on time I requested and was granted an extension. Three extra days to compile my mini documentary footage and then edit it. Don’t worry, it gets worse. My flu led to a kidney infection. I couldn’t walk but it needed to get done. 

Surprise, I got it done. 

But if I had just gotten a head start on the half a semester long project, I could have spent those two weeks in bed editing instead of crawling out of my dorm attempting to get footage. 

Everything that could have gone wrong did. 

It was a hard lesson to learn and I still struggle sometimes with putting what I know to practice. Projects occasionally get done at the last minute, even still, two years later. 

Sometimes you can’t plan for what will go wrong. Every once in a while everything in your life spins out of control and there’s nothing to do but adjust and keep moving forward*. With that being said, after my many lessons in preparedness, I urge you to plan for the things you can control and stay on top of them so when life hits hard, adapting is just a little bit easier. 
*Or maybe Mercury is just in retrograde and there really is nothing to do about it.

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