I’ve always thought it weird the things that make something real for me. Like right now I am studying for finals in the first classes I’m taking as a college freshman, Sociology 101 and Chemistry 110, while wrapping up my portfolio and final paper for English 101. Safe to say, I’ve been a little busy this week.
Being in college while incarcerated wasn’t really real for me up to this point. I showed up to class having done the readings, turned in my homework and didn’t sweat the quizzes. The real difference for me from high school was that I have actually been doing my homework. In high school I would do the math of “assuming I get a B on each assignment I actually do, and a B on all the tests, how much homework do I absolutely have to do to to pass?” Of course I was a snot nosed little twerp back then and though I knew everything. Now I’m actually taking pride in my work and chasing that 3.5 GPA.
Anyway, filling out the mile of paperwork didn’t make college real for me, applying for a scholarship didn’t, enrolling in classes didn’t, attending classes didn’t, studying for midterms didn’t, not even studying for finals for myself phased me. But helping other people study for finals has finally brought it home for me, this is college.
Sure, there’s no parties or extracurricular clubs. We don’t have a “beautiful campus” or umpteen miles of shelves in the library. There is no spirit week, very little degree counseling, and every class has the same two to four dozen students in it, especially the prereq classes.
Up to this point I’ve felt like this is just more of the same, however, In the past two days I’ve spent 9 hours with my chemistry lab partner, who is also my peer reviewer for sociology and the guy I sit next to in English, getting him ready for this week’s chemistry midterm on chapters 5-10 and next week’s chemistry final.
Seeing him go from frustration to (and I quote) “It is seriously that simple?!” has been a revolutionary experience for me.
This has made college real for me.
I’ve always been amazed by what makes something real for me. Connection. Everything feels flat, stale, illusive as long as I am going it alone. In my own little world nothing actually exists. But when I let my sphere overlap with someone else’s… magic happens. Suddenly the world has purpose, meaning, substance.
I guess that was the thing of worth I (re)learned this spring. Maybe one of these years I’ll finally internalize it and just accept that nothing feels real to me if I don’t share it with someone else. Then again, that may be a bit of a disappointment. I like being amazed. I like that feeling of the world going from black and white to Technicolor. If I were to simply accept this as a part of my normal lived experience, would I lose the wonder of it?