Process

I swallow cold air and bite frosty wind, leaping out of my dorm for a late night jog. Wearing a thin jacket and shorts, I let darkness envelop me and whisk me away from my essay due in two hours. As my feet pound the pavement, each thump in rhythm with some trashy pop song, an old friend assaults me, appearing from the shadowed buildings of colonial Williamsburg. He asks if I’m really making the most of my time at college, if I’m really doing all that I can, if -

A tree branch trips me and I hit the ground with a thud. Pain shoots up my knee and my elbow, and I embrace the earth, my fingers grasping the cool cobblestones, my body still. Amidst the EDM playing from my headphones, a thought comes unbidden: I could let it all go. As I close my eyes and clench my muscles, I do not contemplate suicide – rather, I realize how easy it would be to give up, to forgo my fear and stay huddled here forever.

Battle scar selfie. Awkward arm positioning for the win.

Battle scar selfie. Awkward arm positioning for the win.

With Thanksgiving in less than 24 hours, I feel appreciative of so many of life’s little pleasures. College, with its few lows and many highs, has absorbed much of my time as you can tell from my lack of posting please forgive me. Beyond the large amount of lessons I’ve learned – academic and otherwise – the small things make my day: waking up and getting breakfast with a friend, taking some time to read for fun, adding the word “selfie” to my online dictionary, etc. But, as you may discern by reading just a few of my previous posts, I like to relate all of what I do to the big picture. What actions should I take now so I can become the best teacher or psychologist possible? How do I maximize my productivity while partaking in so many courses and clubs? While I’m not as obsessed with perfection as I was in high school, I still try to calibrate my choices to produce the most optimal outcome.

About a week ago, my freshmen seminar professor – the one who tears apart my papers on a weekly basis, but in the best possible way – commented on one of my assignments. She told me that “college is one part of a life-long journey in learning and living.” All along, I’ve kept a linear path in my mind: go to college and learn as much as I can, then go onto a career that will entail making a visible difference in the lives of others. But I’m starting to see that it’s all a process – it’s not that I’ll just leave college and get a job. A permanent odyssey of self-discovery awaits me, full of internal growth. The adventure does not consist of clearly-defined, neat stages. While high school forced me to find my beliefs and battle the abuse of my mother, in college I find myself expanding my ability to communicate with others and to live on my own. It’s messy, confusing, and unclear at times, but it’ll be worth it, beyond the tangible results I often search for.

I recall the summer after second grade, stepping off the bus on the last day of school. I remember slipping on the sidewalk and landing on the gravel, crying as my grandfather walked me home, staring at myself in the mirror as blood dripped from my forehead down my face. My mom took me to the hospital, and my memories only accumulate and flash forward from there: to the day she yelled at me about a particular pair of pants, to the moment I decided to run away, to now, here, the present, the freest I’ve ever felt. With this perpetual process in place, when the fear of falling behind approaches, I will always move forward.

College dining at its best. Aka, the true reason why I need to go on late night jogs.

College dining at its best. The real reason why I need to go on late night jogs.

I apologize for my absence – school has kept me super busy but I felt like I needed to make sure everyone knows I’m still alive. This post is kind of a huge mess of introspection, but once finals finish in a couple of weeks I should have more time for more thought-out writing. Tonight and tomorrow I will respond to all of the comments and messages I’ve received in the past few weeks, and I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! In case anyone cares, you can find my thoughts on The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, Fun Home by Allyson Bechdel, and Just One Year by Gayle Forman here, here, and here respectively.

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6 Comments

Filed under Personal

6 responses to “Process

  1. To live is to learn, isn’t it? I’m sure we’ll all be evolving, no matter what stage we reach. But it’s also important to realize how far we’ve come, just as you have from high school to this point. We can’t deny our ignorance about certain things, but we can’t deny our accomplishments either :) Congrats on making it this far, Thomas; I’m always impressed and inspired by your resilience and optimism.

  2. Ooooh, good books! I spent a lot of Thanksgiving break at B&N drooling over all the books I need to read.

    Introspection is good :) I am glad you are enjoying college – carry on and don’t let the stress get to you.

    • Ugh, B&N, the setting I love most yet fear due to the temptation that lurks within its walls…

      Thank you for reading and commenting, managing stress is becoming one of my strong points!

  3. Pandas

    Jealousy comes to my mind.. Anyway! :P Good luck with your final exams. (:

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