Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Semester I Really Learned

I started out with all sorts of ideas about how this semester would carry out. There was a sweet balance of "been here, done this" and "everything's so new" that day I moved myself in for keeps.I wasn't new at this; why, a year before I'd been shaking in my khaki shorts as my family hauled boxes and bags into 315 Riverside East. And still, the idea of living in an apartment with my best friends kept making me smile all day long. It felt so surreal. Words like perfect and freedom and laughter kept slipping themselves into my thoughts. And in the end, it was perfect and free, and people, there was a lot of laughter. But what else there was took me by surprise. It shocked me. It made me angry.

Basically, I'd never experienced the stress that such a large load of school inevitably induces. As the girl who showed up on test day in high school and aced it and somehow found her way into not one but two Freshman Compass classes (read: "Write an essay on the difference between high school and college") her freshman year, things like studying for more than one night before the test were foreign to me. But this year, I had whole weeks where I didn't move from my spot on the couch, weeks where I felt guilty for breaking for dinner because "I have stuff to do!" Weeks where I would find myself, mid-Biology notes, thinking about my Human Development test and suddenly, there would be tears that I would whisk away, hoping none of my roommates caught a glance. Weeks that I took out way too much of that stress on way too many people who never deserved a lick of it. And I regret that.

I pulled out better, shinier grades this semester than I ever have before, which affirms what I knew all along: if I put the work in, I could and would get it done. But I learned that I don't want to live in a world where being destressed is a foreign idea, where, more often than not, I feel guilty for taking dinner breaks. I took that lesson and learned and dropped a class next semester and signed up for yoga. I feel that I am guaranteed a less stressful existence in the start of 2011.

So, that is my spiel about that. What's up next is all the crazy wonderful bits that I got swept up in, as well.
August 2010
moved in, threw Joanna a rockin' Birthday dinner, started class, revisited Summer Snow, learned how to cook black beans

September 2010
Went to the lake for Labor Day 2010 (again), Fell in love with Alabama football (again), suffered Round 1 of tests, found out just how wonderful our balcony really is
 October 2010
Went to Lake Guntersville for Fall Break #1, remembered how liberating it is to (occasionally) skip class, carved pumpkins, became half of a Halloween costume called "Can and A Bowl"
 November 2010
went to an away game (Tennessee), went to the Harry Potter premiere, went to a square dance, went home for Thanksgiving, met my goal of finishing the Harry Potter books
 December 2010
I finished strong. And it was awfully hard to say good-bye.  
 At the end of it all, I learned a lot. I learned that allopatric speciation occurs when one species turns into two because of geographical barriers. I learned that widowed men remarry 5 times more often than women. I learned how to build a wrench out of shapes in a computer program, and I tried to convince everyone that Grendel wasn't really a monster. I learned that most of the time, you get what you put into it, whatever it may be. I learned that productivity comes in all kinds of different ways, and that sometimes, unproductive productivity is more important than dishes or homework. I learned that people are more integral to this life than anything else, save for Jesus, who is a person, anyway. I learned that eating together brings you closer to the people around your table. I learned that sometimes, you have to start the conversation. I learned that at the end of the day, I a bold, and that whoever is loving me has to like that sort of thing. I learned that running away because you're scared is a terrible reason to run. I learned that I'm more of a yogini than a runner, anyway. And in yoga, I learned, you have to breathe through the pain. I learned that a family never means "ideal." Instead, a family means "acceptance" and a family means "selflessness" and a family means "I'll hold your hand" and "Please, don't be perfect." And don't worry, I took that lesson to heart.

Spring 2011? Bring it on. 

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