No matter how much I tried to shut my eyes, I just couldn’t fall asleep thanks to those racing thoughts for what was to come. There was also no doubt that stress sweat eventually took over. Bleh. I was so tired. My body and mind would eventually rest, but not now because there were too many nerves involved. And, I actually pulled a rare all-nighter. That morning was the first time I attended community college.
The social and physical awkwardness
Without a moment of sleep I entered my very first class held in a chilly January morning: Anthropology 101. The professor was a middle-aged tall, lean woman with long wavy brown hair. Without her saying a word, I would have probably easily guessed that she was a teacher of some sorts. Wearing her thick-rimmed glasses she read off the syllabus, and that was pretty much what the hour-long class consisted of. Was it worth losing sleep over? Definitely not! Yet, there was something odd happening inside that classroom. Ten minutes before the end some of the students would begin slamming the doors behind.
Because the school was just under fifteen minutes away from my home, there wasn’t that large of a transition from high school at first glance. But because I was friendless for months after graduation and rarely socially interacted outside of the Internet, things were starting to get a bit lonely (as referenced in “Most of My Friends are from Exchange”). Even dealing with a cashier at Walgreens became quite nerve inducing. Around the time when my peers’ skin began clearing up, mine became screwed and breakouts began appearing one after the other right after my nineteenth birthday. Each morning there would be a literally painful reminder of skin inflammation mainly concentrated on the forehead.
For the next we weeks I walked inside campus grounds mostly slouched, wearing a black hoodie because of the powerful AC in every single room which only gave chills. And of course my acne just further gouged my self-esteem. Every time I looked at my self in the mirror I felt unattractive, yet despite that there was no effort put in covering up those blemishes thanks to the belief that they would get worse if I did. So, the best option was to ignore those dreaded imperfections. People wouldn’t hopefully notice as much.
A new chapter was to begin, or rather there was the potential to create such. There was much effort placed in grasping social skills despite strong shyness and lack of confidence getting in the way. An attempt at making aquaintances was made, which eventually helped lead me towards a certain life path.
Realizing how cookie-cutters don’t cut ideally
In the “real world” not everyone is between the ages of 14-18. That was especially true when I showed up for my English 101 class at six p.m. I was [insert dramatic music] one of the youngest in class. Also telling someone’s age based on physical appearance alone became way more challenging. One of the guys in that class appeared to be a tad bit older than me, maybe twenty-one at most. Turns out that was twenty-seven! Quite a few similar examples happened during the semester. But the most significant eye-opener was the different life stories. It was the very start of the class when each of us had to share some basic facts about ourselves. One of students was a forty-year-old man who returned to school after a decade and was retaking the same class for the third time. Another was a woman in her late thirties that wanted to set a good example for her teenage son. Back in high school she was a troublemaker that got involved with gangs and drugs, but eventually ended completing her GED and turning her life around. A woman that sat near by shared a similar story too. Another female student, just twenty-three, received a bachelor’s degree in Israel. The professor asserted that only about half of the fourteen students would end up completing this course.
Just like many other people who end up attending college, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Because taking care of some “gen eds” was strongly recommended if someone wanted to receive an associate’s or just some certificate, I did what many others did as a safety net of sorts. At the end that strategy worked in my favor as I decided to focus much of my energy on receiving an education. But not everyone had the same life opportunities as I did. Sometimes that fact deserves to be repeated in moments when we might not always be grateful for the chances we’ve been given.
A model timeline for life does not exist even if it may seem that way I still absolutely struggle with remembering this message since there are moments when self-comparison slowly creeps in then doesn’t go away so easily. Ingrained is that desire for others’ acceptance based on the merits of social status. At the end of the semester, only about eight or so people remained for various reasons. Everyone had his or her own story for why they couldn’t make it. Yet, they definitely did not “fail.”
In conclusion, the first semester at community college forever ingrained in my mind that one should avoid using “in conclusion” at all costs. It’s such an overused expression that makes it clear that the writer finally wishes to end whatever they are obligated to argue.
I will also avoid using “in conclusion” because I have discovered that there is no thoughtful conclusion to the people still… developing, changing, mutating!
We all have to own up to our overthinking or else we will hear the youthful roars of community college.