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Remember: Life as a Student: On My first Day of School

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life as a Student: On My first Day of School

On my first day of school, back in August, I climbed three flights of stairs to find the lab where my first class would be taking place. It was probably the most emotionally weighted walk up a staircase that I had ever experienced. It took me a few minutes once I had reached the third floor to find the particular lab where my new life was waiting to begin.

Naturally, class was cancelled. If I was the author of my own life that outcome is a much better turn of events than anything I could conceivably have written. I spent a moment standing at the door thinking “Seriously?” Once that had passed, I spent a few more moments at the door thinking, “Really?”

The next day, I actually had class and I began becoming a student again. (slowly…) As I am writing this, I have been a Muhlenberg student for about a month and a half. I have had homework assignments (a lot of homework assignments), papers, class discussions, lab reports, and one test. (More on that test later.) I am as much of a student as I was before the three year absence but this time, everything is different.

Writing this, I am sitting in the glassy atrium of the Science Library in either Shankweiler or the New Science Building. These two buildings are merged in the middle and I am not quite sure at which particular brick one becomes the other. I am watching the usual torrent of scholarly bodies making their ways from dorms to class or class to lunch or whatever they are doing. The majority of them are well dressed, neatly combed, and wearing whatever attire they feel is appropriate to define themselves by.

I mean, that I can guess with near 100% certainty, which of these students is a musician or football player or sorority member or hippie or and I just looked up from my laptop screen, which of these students plays lacrosse. A young lady just walked by holding whatever that thing is called that you use to play lacrosse with. Walking among this collected body, I must confess that I feel a little out a place.

It isn’t just because on average I am six or seven years older than these individuals. It is because, while they are completely college students, I never will be again. In a few years, these folks will graduate and eventually find their ways into whatever the rest of their lives are going to be. At this point, in my life, I hold no hope in the promise of tomorrow. This academic training camp of future whatevers is not something I am a part of. They are hoping to make it to the majors. I am hoping for a shot at the Triple AAA team.

Do not misunderstand me, I am studying hard and working towards an end goal but big dreams of success and the things I wanted to do when I grew up are long gone. I just want to survive and hopefully, survive well. A classmate of mine asked me a few weeks ago what the real world was like. Flabbergasted, I stared at him for a minute. He was an 18 year old kid from New York who had yet to work a day in his life. I told him to keep studying and he would never find out.

So, after three terrible years, I am ensconced in student life. My friends have asked me how it feels. Truthfully, I am scared shitless. I worry constantly that something, big or small, will occur that will force me out again and the same things that happened three years ago will happen again. I catch myself smiling on occasion and I quickly make sure to clarify my seemingly tenuous position at school and remove my smile. I am still broke. I still have many bills and I am still on unemployment. I am still sick and I still cannot afford the treatment I so desperately need.

So, I wait for the bad thing to happen; whatever that bad thing may be. As a matter of fact, this new worry of impending disaster has worsened many of my most frequent symptoms. Despite all of my neurosis, I march on. I am so pleased to be where I am and truthfully, in a smaller dose, not taking this for granted is probably healthy. The manner in which I am taking this is unfortunately unhealthy.

The first test I took, I got a C. It wasn’t for lack of studying. I studied my “old” ass off. I did not however prepare for the panic attack I would have during my test period. Readers, do not attempt to take tests will taking lorazepam. It does not work out well.

Let’s see what happens next. I am hoping for the best. I am really doing alright despite being afraid constantly of an imminent failure. I’ll keep this story updated occasionally on here. Thanks for reading.

Do not miss my other post from this morning:

What's the point of a City Park? Part 4: Recreation



Anonymous monkey momma said...

"I am still sick and I still cannot afford the treatment I so desperately need."

I am sorry to hear this part of your story - it is the first mention I've read from you that all is not well with your health.

Regarding your 2nd life at college...

The other students have nothing on you. Your fear is simply the product of experience. Everyone has fear of what's to come, especially when the worst has already happened. Your uncertainty and anxiety is not necessarily a flaw - it could be an asset that protects you from screwing up on your second shot at school. You're in a much safer place now, mentally, now that you know you have to take care of yourself come what may.

All you can do is sit yourself down and STUDY all the time. Stay away from the meds. Talk to your professors and tell them what's happening to you, and see what they recommend. Also, it wouldn't hurt to meet with the councilors on campus. (Sometimes they can pull strings to make test taking easier, but other times they help students simply cope w/ the stress.) All students feel incredible stress, so this is normal.

Independent students world-wide lead a financially broke existance. It's tough, but temporary. Sounds like your health is keeping you from part-time work, so I wish you all the luck in the world with this.

From reading your blog, I can plainly see that you have the mind for school. The trick is to stop thinking about studying and just DO IT - all the time. It sucks, but it's temporary. Find study groups. Meet w/ the professors and aids to review areas you don't understand. Do not worry about the other students. They only look so sure of themselves because they haven't yet learned that sometimes life sucks. If you do the work, the reward will follow. I wish you luck!

October 7, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

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