A year out of high school, I went through some truly horrific shit. The details of the event don’t matter. We all have our traumas – in varying degrees and densities. I’ve seen people argue about their traumas. “Mine is worse than yours, you can’t complain!” It all sucks.
This isn’t a piece about depression. At least not directly. Depression sucks. Things suck when you’re depressed. Somehow, I was able to figure out my depression without meds or a therapist (not initially, it took some time). And while I’m still fucked up, I can honestly manage depressive thoughts in ways that don’t suck (that much). It’s possible this piece is about that.
I spent way too much time as an undergrad. Seven years, to be exact. But don’t get it twisted. I wasn’t the Van Wilder type, taking two classes at a time, every other semester. I did seven years, full-time, with three full-time summers sandwiched in at various points. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (I strive to accomplish what some believe is impossible). (My dad is also a prof and tuition was free. An immense privilege, and in acknowledging that, I tried to take full advantage.)
I mention this because I understand the game. And school is a game. I’m currently doing a Master’s, and it’s gamier than racoon meat. And just like a game, there are winners and losers. I don’t agree with it. Education should be about making people better. About providing the knowledge and tools that a person requires to discover their natural talents. A community is improved when it strives to lift its metaphorical floor. A game is about raising the ceiling. Making the best better. There are winners and losers.
In my near decade of post-secondary, I’ve definitely had my losses. They’ve caused personal crashes that I can’t describe. Crashes that can only be understood by people who’ve experienced mental catastrophes.
I’ve also won. Not nearly as much as I’ve lost. But I’ve had my W’s. The shitty thing about the wins I’ve had, is that they were generally preceded by a severe low to achieve them. They say hard work pays off, but when does it become not worth it? I reached the point of quitting. A few times. But I was lucky enough to have a fantastic social system to keep me in the game. Because in playing the game, they convinced me I could change the game. That sounds like pedantic bullshit.
There are a number of people, people who are very close to me, who did reach their tipping point. I saw the terrorizing shame that came with this. Selfishly, I felt bad about being part of something that seemed to treat my friends, myself, and countless other people so poorly. I tell myself that I’m staying in the game so I can change it. It’s possible that I’m just trying to weave myself a safety net because I’m petrified of not having an identity outside of school.
It’s possible to both hate and love something. It’s possible to hate parts of yourself, and for those same parts you hate to drive your greatness and success. It’s possible to change yourself. It’s possible to change the game. It’s possible to wake up feeling helpless and hopeless. True success is impossible, without at some point reaching your tipping point. Keep trying. It’s possible.
It’s also possible that I’m full of shit. But at least I’m trying.