I woke up at 3:30pm today: the after-term slumber. I vaguely recall incessant prods from my partner at semi-regular intervals, but they soon ceased following persistent grumbles and quasi-cognizant obscenities. It would seem the most colourful language surfaces when sleep’s interrupted.
I’ve finally pulled out my coffee intravenous, deciding to assume caffeine withdrawal over the next couple of weeks, and I now have time to replace my nutrient-deficit diet of raw soy burgers and celery sticks with real food.
I’ve nearly completed my first term, affording me a final bout of reflection before again resuming a zombie-like walk to the end of first year.
University is completely different than high school, they said, this is where you find yourself; this is where you get to be an individual.
I wouldn’t say these statements are exactly accurate, but for all purposes, let us assume that they are. Buying into this, purchasing a higher education, can be whatever you make it to be. Well, kind of; it really all depends what you’re looking for when you decide that this is, presumably, something you want to commit to for the next three to ten-plus years of your life. I’m still not so sure.
My endeavours thus far into the “education system” have revolved around perfectionism. I would cling in desperation to high grades, hoping that this might reflect a piece of myself (maybe 100% would stabilize my identity’s concrete fissures with significance; maybe I would feel whole if someone was able to tell me who I was). But good grades never did satiate my yearning for discovery …and I don’t think that they ever will.
I am learning more about myself through university. Yes, I have new interests I want to explore and I have courses that I’m looking forward to, but most of my learning is not reflected in assignments, writing essays, or getting a good return on midterms; most of my growth is happening outside of academia: it’s the kind of stuff you can’t read about in textbooks, or extract with a critical eye; it’s learning where my place is in the world, and finally feeling comfortable in moving forward.
Okay, I’m going to step away from my previous blog posts; I could easily write a post about coffee (liquid life) and how it has contributed to my success throughout first term; I could write about my assignments; studying; conforming passions; I could write about all of the necessities integral to success in university, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to let my heart vomit all over this blog post, coagulating words and gushing thoughts, so bare with me.
Honestly (here we go), I never would have thought to make it this far. I only really had but a few strings fettering me to consciousness, one being my mom. And so, when she left, I thought I would too. I decided, after years of avoidance, to again indulge institution; it was of my mother’s final request to which I obliged: I’m going to university. However, I notice my views are shifting, like gears finding tread: academia is something I’m doing now for myself as much as was initially to make my mom proud.
I’m moving away from existentialism; I’ve learned that life has meaning only when instilled with one’s own meaning. My knuckles bare tattoos that remind me of what is integral to me: to exist, and to love. Though when I find myself brooding on the absurdities of life, when I scrutinize our world’s assembly and inner-mechanisms, I feel more lost than ever. Ofttimes I find myself resting on the edge of a cliff, delicately wavering to steal glances below, thinking, maybe, a pit of broken shards are more welcoming than the world resting behind me. But I stand up, reluctantly, to be part of something so often I assume absurd. For I’m a leaf: long have I fallen from the tree that once gave me life, nourishing vividness and colour. Autumn set my nature ablaze in attempts to ward off the coming winter; a sacrifice proving fruitless, for winter’s relentless disposition churns onward like a machine. But I wail and dance in the winds, uplift in currents of change. While my body decays, it is filled with light and compassion: nourishing transformation. I’ve learned that I am a part of a cycle; like seasons’ change, my body will remain intrinsic to the summer to come; and while it’s doubtless I will maintain consciousness to feel forthcoming warmth, I remain earthed in contribution to something bigger than myself. Though delicate, I refuse to crumble; I can feel happy enough knowing that I stayed true to what is integral to me: a twig bending to conform out of necessity, but never snapping.
Now, I can’t tell you how to be successful, because success is subjective. I didn’t come to university to secure employment; I came here to learn. Here, hopefully I can gain access to opportunities that might make “success” possible for me.
Any “knowledge” I could pass onto newcomers of university would not be helpful to most: I wouldn’t tell you to study hard; I wouldn’t suggest that you follow structure; I wouldn’t even tell you to “stick with it”. My biggest piece of advice would be to step away from fear of failure, to let go of expectations, or the job you might be seeking at the end of this endeavour. I would encourage you to allow yourself mindfulness in experiencing new things, to let your journey bring you where it might. Simply, to exist; and to preserve your innate convictions and your power as an individual, standing firm so that your very existence is cause for rebellion. And to love with every new experience that comes your way, adverse or otherwise, spreading compassion when so often the world begs us to disconnect and indulge selfishness.