Brighter than the Northern Lights

Today was a bad day. Nothing especially bad happened, but for reasons unknown even to me, I suddenly decided to hate life, including homework, class, school, the entire educational institution, our society, and probs some other stuff that I'm forgetting. Oh, but Roomie was excluded from the explosion of hatred because she listened to me rant and cry and offered condolences in the form of tea and schneckles. Best roomie everrr <3. Anyway, my grievances are as follows.

What am I doing here? Today I have the most overwhelming sense that I am in the wrong place. Not that Go-Co is the wrong school, but that school is the wrong path altogether. I want to learn, but I don’t feel that I gain anything from reading hundreds of pages a week because it’s too much to actually absorb. It all gets stored in the part of my brain designated “temp files,” to be deleted after the exam. Some of it’ll go even before then. This is not because the information is uninteresting, but because there’s too much of it, and because knowing I HAVE to read it and remember it drains all the fun out of learning. I don’t even like reading anymore, and I would’ve thought only the greatest evil could take that away from me. I want to know things, like how space and societies work, and I want to read things, classic stories and fantasy stories and funny stories – but turning exploration into something I will later be examined on makes me hate even the things that interest me.

Most of all, I want to write and create. I know that we can’t always do what we want when we want, but it’s not like I want to go play video games all day. Writing a book is a legitimate and career-oriented undertaking. Doing is the best way of learning a craft like writing. I am ready, willing, and even eager to work hard for hours at a time to accomplish something if I can see the value of the task. However, I cannot see the value of all this material I’m supposed to read and recall. I can’t care about everything they tell me to care about. That’s not to say I don’t see value in the subject, but some things should not be taught in a classroom. Astronomy, for instance. The study of the heavens. Well, the heavens aren’t exactly hard to access; I’m pretty sure you can see them from almost anywhere on earth. What the hell are we doing in a classroom?

I digress. I was saying that I can’t see the value of what I’m doing at school right now, and I think that’s because the goal is all wrong. I’m stressing trying to get good grades, so that I can graduate, so that I can put college on my resume, so that I can get a good job, so that I can make a lot of money and have a “good” life. Who defines something like a “good” life, and what makes ‘em so darn sure it’s the same for everybody? I don’t even want to be rich, and I’m still trying to fulfill society’s expectations! Who’s to say this is the way to “success,” or even what success is? My tenth grade history teacher had a poster in the classroom that said, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” If I merely follow the path laid out for me by somebody else, I’m only doing what millions of other kids my age do. How can I call myself different? I may SAY I don’t care about the institutions and expectations of society, but I still play by their rules.

It comes down to this: do I want to spend two more years and 70 thousand more dollars on this endeavor? For sleeplessness and acne and crummy food and noisy res halls? I’m not saying I hate college. I’m making connections with friends, professors, even professionals in my fields of interest. Do those benefits outweigh the costs? Maybe. Today it doesn’t feel that way. But could I live with myself knowing I gave up? Could I live with my family knowing I gave up? Is it even “giving up” if you’re closing one door in order to open another?

As for my family, well. I’ve been saying how I spent my younger years trying to please my parents and how I should’ve just done what I felt was right, maybe leading to mistakes, but always providing life experience that would teach me something. I’ve been saying I’m done trying to make others happy at my own expense but I still do it all the time. I am here because I did well in high school and have the means to further my education. They expect me to be here. By “they” I mean teachers, mentors, pastors, guidance counselors, parents, and most of all, culture. Culture says if I don’t do life this way, I’m fucked and a failure and my life is going to suck. But being trapped in a life that is wrong in every way sounds like a worse fate than living in a little house and driving a clunky old car. Is a publisher going to reject my manuscript because I don't have such-and-such a degree? There are two grounds for rejection in the publishing world. Either your submission did not suit the needs of the publishing house and market, or you’re just not good at writing.

But I’m not dealing with publishing houses right now. I’m dealing with teachers and textbooks. I am not taking care of my body. I am not taking care of my heart. I’m only taking care of that little corner of my brain everybody seems to think I should be taking care of. Every part of me is screaming that it wants to do the things I was made to do, yet every second of my time is spent doing anything but. I just don’t want to die before leaving my mark on the world, no matter how small that mark may be. I want to die trying, knowing I gave it everything I had. I want to know something, somewhere, changed because of me. Maybe I don’t deserve that kind of significance; I guess we’re all afraid of being forgotten, aren’t we?

Perhaps I only feel caged because I have such an academic schedule this semester. Perhaps things will only get better. All I know is, I never feel right except when I am creating things, lost in a song, or with people I love, who complete me. Is that so wrong, finding happiness in those places? Tell me what’s so wrong with being happy. You say immediate happiness won’t last? Well I’m gonna goddamn make it last! but I’ve got to start somewhere, and there’s no time like the present….


I'm too emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted to write about the Reel Big Fish show tonight. I do, however, have a couple of sick souvenirs to share... you decide which one is more epic.


Katie said...

Maybe the mark on the world that God has intended for you to leave is different from the mark you want to leave. Just the fact that our paths have crossed in a significant way, roomie, has changed my perspective on seizing the moment, finding passion in my talents, and finding joy in in activities and people I wouldn't/couldn't have imagined. Remember, God has plans for us far greater than our dreams, but we must submit to Him and let Him use us.

krystinadee said...

kudos to the comment above. and i remember this quote.. i think it was by winston churchill or something.. but this quote has stayed with me throughout the darkest times in my life. you've probably heard it before, but it reads:

"if you're going through hell, keep going"

DAMN RIGHT! things will only get better from here, i bet you.

jenniferin said...

whatever God is leading you towards, I'm sure it will be great. My life is a little hellish right now as well with all of this law school application stuff, so i can sympathize.

But know that even when your'e feeling like crap, there are people that really love and support you.

God will lead you in the right direction. That's what I tell myself whenever I feel like I'm not good enough. I hope it will provide you with some encouragement.


Anonymous said...

Hey Amanda, I deal with the same thoughts all the time. I really hate the college system some (most) of the time, and what it turns learning into. So I can sympathize with you and how it feels like trying a different option would be seen as giving up. But you're a really smart, talented person, and a good student, so you'll get through it. If anything, in the end you'll be proud of yourself for making it through all that work rather than just giving up and winging it, and not taking anything away from it besides the ability to bullshit. Which believe me, is not very satisfying. As everyone is always telling me, it's only 2 more years (harder to say about hte 70,000 dollars part) but after that you'll be able to do whatever the hell you want, and you won't have to regret that you didn't at least try to stick it out. Good luck with everything.


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