What is hard about college? I don’t know why people don’t warn incoming freshman about what’s actually hard. Academics, people say. Leaving your family. Doing laundry. I don’t remember what else they told me. What I do know though, is that the things that were actually hard about college hit me hard and from a million unexpected places. From my journal, August 2014:
“Here I, or we, that being all freshman, are forced to confront directly our innate character and qualities. We confront our social and intellectual aptitude or lack thereof. We confront the skill and ability of others of a magnitude inconceivable just weeks prior. Sitting here at my desk I feel my ego unresolved, the one that existed before, resolute and confident melted down to nothing, inchoate. My past self whom I learned over the years to love so completely has dissolved in but a stroke and now my new self must form before he too can be an object of self-love.
And I’m sitting here not wishing so much for my old relationships but for their depth, for the development and strength granted by time alone, and sitting here longing for a sense of identity rendered unclear, only perceptible in major and residence hall.
I hope that I don’t lose my past self completely, that my memoir does not feel irrelevant, that my experiences and thoughts and the power of my life gone by does not cease to matter in a new context. I already feel it in a way. I need to hold onto that ego as best I can. Bring it with me. I knew who I was and a I must still know.”
I liken myself at the beginning of this year to a massive and decadent house built on a very poor foundation. That house, that being my ego, had taken some 10 years to build. Careful sculpting by the subconscious and conscious minds working to lay the brick and mortar to eventually create something satisfactory to an insecure and overcompensating architect reaching beyond his means in pursuit of creating something others’ perceived as beautiful.
Freshman year was an earthquake, shattering the structure, the damage reverberating far below anything inflicted in High School. This was not bad, though, for it forced me, the architect, to reconcile with myself and acknowledge both my weaknesses and my strengths and begin to build anew, this time beginning with the foundation that had previously failed, aiming to eventually build something that perhaps others didn’t find beautiful but he did.