College vs. life

Now that the school year has ended, I’ve been racking my brain for something intelligent to say. Somehow, in my brain, I have built up this brief ending as some monolithic event that will set my spirit free from the burden of enslavement to the whims of professors and the necessity of finding a place to study that doesn’t make me want to devote entirely too much time to devising increasingly gory methods of dispatching anyone who might distract or otherwise irritate me.

I have always had this perception of college as a sort of temporary stasis where you get to experience things safely in a structured environment, after which you will have gained the tools to get a job that might pay enough to allow you to be considered for middle class citizenship. With the assumption that I am merely getting training for my “real life,” I have neglected areas of my current real life, which have been in desperate need of development, in order to devote time and energy to getting the best grades that I can.

On several occasions, I have gained some real insight into things that are important about life in general through my course work. I have definitely learned at least five conversation topics that might interest a fellow pedantic pseudo-intellectual. The fact that my course work has taken the majority of my time, effort, patience, money and social life while being generally uninteresting/mandatory/unfulfilling/concerned with ivory towers signals to me that any satisfying meaning to the college experience is left up to me to make for myself (and pay for).

I mean, the most meaningful experiences that I have had this year have all been outside the realm of academia. Having someone who is dying and planning their own funeral ask you why none of their family wants to talk to them is a profoundly sad and meaningful moment. Being completely bowled over by your significant other’s love, devotion and support is just as meaningful in a different way. I realized that I got more from life during the time I spent actively distracting myself (and agonizing over my procrastination) than by actually doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Yet at the end of the term, I mourn, ironically, the fact that I did not get as much done on my own for myself as when I was being hounded by multiple professors.

The thing that really gets me is that I have been sifting through all these years of education for some hallowed future, and after these last few months I feel like I have finally been living life, with all the wonder, misery and sleep deprivation that it entails. I’ve literally spent nights up until dawn, hopelessly distracted from school life, worrying about things and nauseated by all the responsibilities I have to take care of. Sometimes I will abandon my zombie-esque computer stare, go outside and look at the sunrise so I can turn the agony of the night into the ecstasy of a day full of (mindfully optimistic) new possibilities. The chirping of the birds right around 4 a.m. helps to lift the mood of the day. Then the sun rises and I decide that I have done enough and it’s time to sleep.

I might wake when class is already over. To make up the difference, I must force myself to make my last-ditch-effort school assignments have some sort of meaning that is pertinent to the weariness that I feel so that they can hold my attention and perhaps get a passable grade. I am naïve and sentimental enough to hope that my dear professors will be kind to me through my contextually necessitated self-growth. I couldn’t earn a D for finally living, could I?

Then again, that reminds me of something my mom used to say: Life’s just not fair.