Saturday, May 10, 2014

Meditations of a College Dropout

It's the time of year when Facebook explodes with pictures of graduates in caps and gowns.  All my friends at AMU who didn't flunk out halfway through junior year keep posting about how they can't believe they DID IT, finished their degree, earned those two glowing letters to follow up their name like devoted lackeys forevermore.  I'm so happy for them, so happy, especially those with whom I was close enough to know their struggles, their doubts as to whether they'd really make it through.  I didn't realize until today that some small corner of my heart wasn't happy at all, but angry and bitter and resentful that I didn't get to wear the cap and gown, feel the butterflies in my stomach as my turn approached to walk across the stage and receive that precious piece of paper with SUCCESS scrawled across it in invisible ink.

Sometimes I'm tempted to go about life like a drawn-out procession to my own funeral, dwelling on everything I've ever done wrong or left incomplete: on the spot on my wall where a diploma would have hung, on the awkward pause after someone asks what I do for a living, on the taunting CatholicMatch junk mail that sprouts weedlike in my inbox.  A diploma and a job and a relationship: very simple, visible signs of success they seem, until I realize that if God hasn't willed them for me, they don't exist in my world, in my relationship with Him.  You can't mourn something that never existed in the first place.  Everyone's success looks different; mine happens to look like someone else's failure, maybe, but that doesn't mean it is my failure.  My failure would be to go about life sad.

I don't want to go about life sad.  I want to live it and love it, every bizarre, terrifying, tremendous, glowing moment of it.  When Gerard Manley Hopkins, priest and poet, who plumbed the depths of depression and spiritual emptiness far deeper and longer in his lifetime than I have ever done, was dying, he said, "I am so happy, I am so happy.  I loved my life."

The man who wrote the Terrible Sonnets--he loved his life.

I thought about him this evening as I walked through the late light to the Starbucks at Beverly Corners, ordered a tall Americano (my new substitute for a macchiato, since forswearing dairy), opened Order of the Phoenix (I rather like Angsty Harry, whatever others may say about him), and sat in the shop's sunny window and loved life to bits for an hour or so.

They have this awesome picture on the wall there of a coffee machine that looks just like a Dalek.

So there's that.

And there are the facts that I've been sleeping better and panicking less these two weeks than I have since September; that I've been chosen to play Juliet (Juliet!) in a local production of Romeo And; and that I'm currently rooming with one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world, with whom I get to do silly, nerdy, wonderful things like read Shakespeare aloud, and build fantastic blanket forts that take up the whole living room, and fangirl about God.

My dear ones, hang your diplomas like neon signs of your success, witness to your growing and learning and working and praying as hard as you know how.  I'm so proud of you.  I'm proud of me, too.  We've had an amazing time of it, haven't we?

Let's go have some more.




  1. I am very, very happy for you as well. I was slightly worried that it was very unkind of me to complain to you about how horrible this past year was. Considering that I did end up graduating. And I know you didn't think this, but I want to reiterate anyway, that I was not by ANY means trying to compare my life to your life. (If you really needed to feel better, you could remind yourself that my relationships, both romantic and platonic, have been even more nonexistent than yours (excluding our old, old friends).) I've never really understood people who judge other's success based off their degrees or jobs or whatever. (I mean, isn't there some thing that can only be signed by special sorts of people like engineers or lawyers or whatever? I think my dad ends up signing things like that for people. As if engineers and lawyers are somehow more trustworthy than the rest of the populace?)

    Also, though this isn't the place to talk about it, I've had my week of school-recovery, and now I'm just getting over my week of post-school-recovery-horrible-sickness. So we should get together. I'm going to be house sitting for my parents this week, so I'll be closer than usual. I'll email about it later, if you don't do it first.

    P.S. I rather like Angsty!Harry too.

  2. This is an absolutely wonderful, inspiring, and brave post! I've had a difficult day of it today, thank you for reminding me to keep walking "gaily in the dark" and for reminding me of how much I am loved by my Father above :)