“so what are you doing now?” i’m struck by how much of a level playing ground we all had in college, while now, we’re learning to subscribe to the categories of life experience that the outside world has given us. i thought about what a happy and safe place that group of friends was to me in my college days, when we were all free to affirm each others’ social and political belief systems and were able to sit around, smoke, and speak judgementally of those who stood so firmly opposite of us. we became the comfortable black sheep of our little niche, and it was safe.

i was warmed by the presence of a mentor and friend, a professor who taught each of us in one class or another, who gently nudged us to think of things that were outside of our normal scope of thought, who carefully and thoughtfully brought really tense classroom discussions back to a level ground- one that reminded us all of the respect we should have as human beings. it was one of my favorite things about being in her classroom- i never felt judged for a comment that i made that didn’t reflect the norm in the college or in society.

i can’t help but think about individual identities. our identities in school were so safe- we were wrapped up in cozy little circles of friends in clearly defined majors or peer groups, or even clubs. we were free to express ourselves, encouraged to become leaders, and able to loudly proclaim what we did or didn’t believe. now we’re on the other side of that line, gingerly stepping across this invisible fence called adulthood and suddenly there is no level playing field- we’ve all taken on new forms of identity and chosen certain things to ascribe to that make us who we are, and there are varying amounts of pride associated with those things, whether they be our salaries, our living situations, our relationship status, our degrees, or our chosen professions. each thing, in turn will mean different things to each of us as the years pass, and various items will be more important at different times to different people. no longer are we gathering in d-hall or scrounging together our meager meals in dorm rooms, sneaking community cigarettes on porches, and chatting in a common area; we’ve grown into a world that makes belongings and status mean something.

PAUSE:: i can’t stress enough how much these people mean to me, ok now you can continue::

it’s fascinating, really. i can see these things becoming fodder for anxieties and resentments toward one another. my single status sometimes makes me very jealous of people who have someone to call for goodnights. but i’m equally as thankful for my ability to jet off to another country. and i’m realizing that we all feel the same anxieties around the transitions and almost incomprehensible feeling of not knowing what’s around the next corner- we need certain things to hold onto at the corner, some kind of status or pride, and i think it’s important to affirm those things in each other.

some kind of analysis should probably take place around this, and if i were awake enough, i’d refer us back to a developmental stage which analyzes this point in life. but really?

still, sometimes i wonder what it would be like to strip all of those things away again, to become the people inside us that feel insecure and small and absolutely terrified at what this world could hand us, and sit around, smoke, laugh, joke, and just be together.

 

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