It’s a tag I’ve had on my Tumblr for ages. It’s a Pinterest board that has existed for over a year. It’s a slow sinking in.
Collegiate, n: of one who’s next few years are owned by an education board and deadlines.
When I was younger, I thought that twelfth grade was college. I was disappointed to learn that I would be in school longer. This frustration stuck with me through most of highschool. I wanted to write. I still want to write. And yet here I am.
I’ve been asked by several people why on earth I would attend college. I’m studying film, hoping to write scripts someday and falling in love with the camera in the process. Why, they ask. Why would you leave your house for four years and go study something you could teach yourself?
After a week, I’m beginning to know why, and it’s coming in words that might make sense.
I’m supposed to be here.
Choosing which college was one of the toughest things I’ve had to decide about yet, for many reasons. I literally decided to attend Oglethorpe University (henceforth referred to as OU because the name, good gravy) the night before the May deadline. And it still felt uncertain. It didn’t feel like me.
It definitely didn’t feel real, not even a week before. But now I’ve been here a week and a day. It’s been a Good Week. I’ve learned how to jump in and help sick roommates, how to ask people for things (You Have Not Because You Ask Not: a proverb taught by mine parentals and reinforced by wayward textbooks and much terror of failing a class), the art of small talk, how to drop and add a class, how not to take correction personally but with grace (aka, not crying), that music expresses emotions even when you don’t play well, that maybe I’m not as scared to sing as I thought I was, that audiences consume their own emotions in a Story well told. I’ve learned that just because you don’t cuss doesn’t make you kind, and that you don’t have to take everyone’s advice.
It’s been one week full of homesickness, Skype calls, parties to attend and avoid, lack of hugs, flytacklehugs, swapping names for the sixth time in a row, finding cafeteria food without gluten/dairy/eggs/nuts, letting go of things that used to hurt, lots of music good for the soul, and new worries and fears. It’s been a week of strange insecurities, wandering amongst books, and learning to talk in a class where I’m not the dominant voice. It’s been one week of falling in love (with film class). It’s been a week of crying silently for no reason, loving phone calls because of the people on the other side, and laughing for joy at sunlight shimmying through the trees between classes.
It’s been one week, and I’m a fish out of water in some ways. But I also fit. I’m one of about four film majors on campus, don’t wear makeup, and talk too fast about poetry to business and biopsych majors. I also read the same books, listen to some of the same music, and freak out about classes as most people I run into, because everyone has to read The Odyssey.
Yes, I’m going to a secular college. Yes, the music from parties is way too noisy sometimes. Yes, I’ve been invited to frat parties I have no desire to attend. Yes, I have moral disagreements with people. But that’s just it. I have disagreements with people. I’m allowed to do that. And it isn’t ‘me against the class and professor,’ because that doesn’t get anywhere. It’s many different views and a discussion, not a fistfight kicking and screaming in people’s faces.
My thoughts have grown. My organization and ability to actually make decisions has grown, because I have bad phone service and I can’t instantly get a hold of Mom and Dad to sort out classes. My energy has been used to study and learn and talk, and recharged. I never knew I actually liked camerawork, but now I can’t get enough of the class.
I wouldn’t have gotten that from a textbook. Yes, it’s draining to discuss and interact. But I’ve learned again recently that life wasn’t designed for me to hoard my energy for myself, or even just ‘a select few.’
I’m supposed to be here. I’ve found, somehow, that college can feel a little like home. Mind you, I’m writing this as I feel homesick in my room that is grey and yellow and white, not blue and purple. It’s all my own, and narrow, and my few wall decorations clash a little and isn’t filled with my little sister’s presence.
And somehow I’m supposed to be here, because I’ve been led this far. I’m studying stories right here, right now, in the same boat in the same stormy sea singing the same song.
I just know some of the words that they don’t. May the telling be well.