Photo by Emma Gottschalk

‘I’ll set the over under of me being able to recite John 3:16 at 33 percent.’

Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Zach Walker
Dec 3, 2019 · 4 min read

[Editor’s note: “I don’t know what I’m doing” is a recurring personal column that pays homage to Johnny Auping’s “I have no idea what I’m doing” personal column in The New Yorker. Opinions expressed here belong only to the author, and, we hope, nobody else on the planet.–Josh Towner, opinions editor]

By Zach Walker | Sports Editor

My parents tell me that I can do anything if I try hard enough, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to bench press 250 or correctly spell the word “definitely” on my first go or even format an essay the right way. All I know is that it’s never the “justified” option that makes it look like a rectangle.

Sorry dad, but I have no idea where 6th Street is. Despite the constant quizzes of the best way to reach the interstate from downtown St. Paul, I still type an address into Waze when I’m more than two blocks away from I-94.

My favorite Bible character is Jesus because I’m not 100 percent sure who anyone else is. I think David fought a lion and I know Noah got gulped up by a big whale, but I have no idea how he got out. I own one Bible and it’s from the Gideons. I don’t know where it came from, but I assume my parents swiped it from a drawer between the beds in a hotel room. I only read it when other people are around and I’ll set the over-under of me being able to recite John 3:16 at 33 percent.

Mom, I’m still not convinced that I have to separate my laundry. Most times, I throw everything into one machine, dump a cap of clear, unscented liquid detergent onto my button up short-sleeves and patterned socks and set it to cold. Nothing bad has ever happened. In other news, just this month, I learned what a Bounce sheet does after I complained to my roommate about my cardigan making the underdeveloped clump of hair on my chest stand up.

I forgot how to do long division. Sometimes, I’ll try to scribble a problem on the margins of my Honors III Seminar notebook, but I never know what to do after drawing the arrow below the last digit under the little house. I got a 4 on the AP Calculus exam, but the only thing I remember from that class is the time my friend Matt played Minecraft on his TI-Nspire CAS graphing calculator and when Mr. Hush paused “Moneyball” to explain the significance of the 2002 Oakland A’s.

My declared journalism major and articles in the Bethel University Clarion make it seem like I’m up to date on current events, but I couldn’t tell you why Israel and Pakistan are fighting. I get most of my news from my best friend, Marc, and I delete most of the New York Times briefing emails that I pay $4 a month for so my inbox doesn’t look cluttered.

I tell people that I want to write for a magazine, but I can never tell them which one. I haven’t cracked the spine of an issue of TIME or Esquire since that project in sixth grade where I had to cut out pictures and stick them to construction paper with Elmer’s glue.

Also, I have to pause whenever I write “construction paper,” because I can never remember that it’s not called “cardboard paper.”

I’m graduating a semester early with a journalism major and no minors and have yet to realistically picture a world where I’m writing stories about something more important than city council meetings and high school soccer while not living with my parents.

I don’t know if magazines even hire writers anymore. I think it’s all freelance work, which, judging by the Skype interviews with journalists during feature writing class, consists of never knowing where your money will come from unless you marry rich or drive a Lyft or deliver Amazon packages.

I don’t know why I worry so much. Life should work out. I can do anything if I try hard enough, right mom and dad? Maybe I’ll just through-hike the Appalachian Trail and grow whatever beard my testosterone can muster in six months and learn how to build cabinets. Maybe someday I’ll read the Bible and learn to divide 300 by 16 without using a calculator and get paid to write stories that I care about.

What I know for sure is that my parents make enough money to ensure that I won’t die of starvation unless I run out of peanut butter backpacking through Yellowstone. I know that “The Shawshank Redemption” is the greatest film ever made. And I know that a job interviewer will never ask me to do long division.

But, I don’t really know any of that, either. I just thought it made for a cute little ending. I could have an aneurysm tomorrow for all I know. Or get eaten by a bear. And never learn how to long divide.


Hyperlocal news about Bethel (Minn.) University by journalism students. To contact editors, email or Tweet to @Royal_Report.

Zach Walker

Written by

Bethel University storyteller. Likes watching Oscar nominees, water skiing while his dad drives the boat, and picking orange in Settlers of Catan.


Hyperlocal news about Bethel (Minn.) University by journalism students. To contact editors, email or Tweet to @Royal_Report.

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