Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why I'm Going to Miss This (Part one)

It recently dawned on me. (I know. I make this is a statement that I make a lot.) In this particular instance, it's the beginning of several revelations I have had about the fact that pretty soon, I will be leaving this little home I've made for myself in Hillsdale, Michigan. That's pretty sad in some ways, and most people probably don't want to think about it yet since we are still in January, but I like to confront things early. We all know it's coming, so I suppose, with so many others in America whining about their worthless college experience and mounds of debt, this is just my way of trying to understand what really has transpired in my time here. Also, my sorority, Pi Beta Phi, recently picked up a new member class of 18 awesome young women. All but one of them are freshmen. This will be the last class to join any sorority on campus before I graduate in May. And now I feel old. Not just old, but nostalgic. It's kinda funny, because I spend a decent amount of time complaining about ALL the things. But really, the last four years have been good for me. So, this post is going to go with academics since it's the easiest to quantify, and also the least emotional thing I could talk about, when it comes to graduating and moving on with my life.

First, in every way, my high school did not give me any of these feelings. I absolutely couldn't wait to get out. Being a senior after a depressing summer and a hard junior year felt like an extra year of slavery tacked on to my servitude to a place that didn't particularly care much about me as long as I gave them great test scores, a lot of tuition money, and kept my angsty, rebellious opinions to myself. Which I did, mostly because it was helping me plot my escape.

College has been very different for me. A humbling experience in the way of hard work, if nothing else. I came in, after doing almost no work in high school and still managing to graduate as a valedictorian (something that seems less and less impressive each passing second, considering there were nine of us, and well, it was high school.) Nonetheless, I was convinced of my personal brilliance. I had never not gotten an A in a class before, but this was Hillsdale, and I knew my grades wouldn't be as good anyway. So I went about my business, putting slightly more than minimal effort into my schoolwork, just so long as I could keep my scholarships.

It worked for a little while. And then I had a wake-up call.
1) I took Bio 300 which was about 10000x harder than I thought it would be. Also, my interest in it was almost nonexistent. And I did not do well, even on my "just get a B" standard.
2) All these people around me excelled at school, learning things, working hard, being stressed, etc, and here I was. Just chilling. Swimming, working, but not really terribly concerned. Basically, I was slacking to the max, and I started feeling a little bored, and a little worthless.
3) My Dad threatened to make me pay more of my school if I didn't get better grades, which was even better motivation than any personal reason, especially at first.

Unsurprisingly, the next semester went extremely well for me. And once you have one good semester like that, it gets a little addictive. I like to excel at things, and I like to win, and getting really good grades sort of feels like "winning" at school, so I couldn't stop. (Yes, shallow, I know.)

Now, that's a long tangent, but it's really not the point. The point is, I have learned a lot. In the last two years especially, I have learned A LOT.

Once I started putting work into my education, I started feeling attached to it. Like I was actually doing something worthwhile with my time, not just with my artwork, but with my more intellectual pursuits here too. I also learned that I am not a very smart person. It took me two years to discover that hard work in school is a good thing. Most people had that figured out in middle school. (What can I say? I'm stubborn.)

Also, I have these people called professors who hand out information and challenges like it's their job! (Oh wait.) As I started paying attention, I started discovering so many things, about how to learn, how to think, how to be curious and present problems and solutions for yourself. I started grasping the idea of learning for personal growth and not for some letter or number on a paper. I liked thinking, and I liked discovering, and I liked learning. After I leave this place, I'm going to have to figure out how to do all of that on my own, which is kinda scary. But, at the same time, it's exciting, because being at Hillsdale, I learned how to learn, from friends and family just as much as professors.

So, basically. I'm going to miss all of that. I'm not going to talk about missing people, or memories like that now, because that will make me a little bit sad. And talking about learning and thinking and all of that is basically emotionless. Woo. Sorry I'm not sorry if you find this boring or wonder why I have to talk about school in my free time, while I'm putting off the 8,000 other projects I could be doing. Also, if you are reading this, I'll probably see you later, and have a nice day.