Sunday, July 26, 2009

Putting it on Hold.

Most people describe it as their time of blossoming, their four-years of self-discovery. I view college as putting my life on hold. Unfortunately I had no other option. In order to make something out of my life I had to go to college. The days when kids with just a high-school diploma could still make it are really gone by now. So I accepted this fact and at the age of 20 headed off to begin my college career.

To a certain degree I have viewed college as actually bad for me. I think three years ago I was more in love with life. I think I deeply cared for every individual I met. I valued the goodness in every person, whether or not they saw it. It's not that this viewpoint has been completely tarnished, it's just that over the years of monotony that college brings I have fallen away from that raw energy for simple existence. Even at Ohio State--the largest university in the country--there is such an emphasis on you. The college model really makes people think that everything is about them. By condensing the world into a few-acre campus, suddenly your presence is demanded at every event; your viewpoint at a college party is pivotal; your contribution to clubs and sports makes the difference. Suddenly you are the reason that things succeed or fail.

And life just isn't like that. Being that I took two years off before starting college, I knew this going in. But it was inevitable that I would change somehow along the collegiate journey. I just didn't expect it to be this hard. I'm not talking about the all-night study marathons or the difficulty of the class material--I'm talking about the temptation to make everything about me.

By no means have I ever trampled on people in my path or done anything malicious towards others. It's just that college has made me indifferent, a position that in my opinion is worse than good-or-bad, hot-or-cold. With either good or bad you can point to a determined person who knows their place in life; with indifference you don't even bother to try. Indifference is generally the last place I'd ever want to find myself, and that's where I believe college has led me. Maybe it's knowing that in some of my classes 60% of the students will fail or drop-out, and that's just a fact I have to accept. Maybe it's knowing that thousands of students every year abandon their studies and never return to school. Perhaps it's knowing that hundreds of thousands of students will receive rejection letters from graduate programs because the students just weren't good enough. It's these dreadful college statistics that makes me begin to turn cold and indifferent. I wasn't like this before, but now it's just a part of life.

So I'm re-reading my old journals (years before blogging existed!) trying to remember how I treated people. I'm trying to remind myself that my piece of the life puzzle is just a single one out of six billion. I'm doing my best to return to the days when mere existence was enough to overflow my cup. How did I fall away from this? Without shifting too much blame, I'm sure the busy-bee life of an over-committed college student had something to do with it. But as Anne Frank said, "Isn't it wonderful that none of us need wait a moment before starting to change the world?"

It's a good thing that I'm only starting with changing myself. If it only takes a single moment to the change the world, how easy can it be to change ourselves?