My degree is finished, I graduate from my second degree this Tuesday. I’ll have a bachelor’s of education, a goal that’s been my aim for the better part of a decade.
I don’t feel good about this though. I keep seeing so many people posting about relief, pride, and a sense of self. The only thing I’m feeling is lost and forlorn, and I get the distinct feeling that’s not how one should feel having accomplished something significant.
I set out to do a lot of things over the past year; get good grades, become involved in the school, make new friends, and try to really move outside of what I was normally comfortable with. I’m typically hard to get along with because I’m insular and introverted; depending on the mood and the day, sometimes to an extreme. This comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me personally, but maybe some who read this know me only from the internet; you might only know me as my YouTube persona. There’s a lot of similarities, but the guy I am in front of the microphone is not the same as the guy in real life, not by a long shot. I think that’s true of a lot of entertainers and internet personalities, but I digress.
I tried to be a reasonably different person this year, in a cliched experiment that has been done routinely in stories since as long as I can remember and as far back as I can stomach reading. I ran for the president position in the student society, actively avoided groups with people I knew well, and even started volunteering for a group called Teachers for Tanzania. Compared to the 6 years it took to finish my undergrad, I was going from the most obscure student on campus to meeting with faculty on a regular basis for progress reports, student initiatives, and running meetings. People began to really recognize me.
Needless to say, doing all of that shit from doing none of that shit was a big change. I really liked it at first. People knew my name, looked for me to talk and ask questions… honestly, these were things I only felt I could do online. It was great.
This only lasted until about November though. Anyone in my program will remember November as one of two Hell months, where it felt like everything was due all the time. November kicked my ass up and down the block, and it wasn’t the last time that would happen: outside of March where it was the same problem as November, February sent me for a loop, too. I was so stressed by February that I had a stress attack, something I’d never experienced before. I’ve experienced being paralyzed by stress and depression, the feeling of being unable to get out of bed. I’ve never had a full blown, cry in my car, curl up in a ball and wish I could die experience before. I also had one of the most punishing experiences in my life, which made my professional life and career path shatter suddenly.
Suddenly my goal wasn’t to become a teacher, it was to get through the degree and find out if it was, in fact, what I wanted to do. I was nervous, a wreck really, throughout most of March. It wasn’t good. Still, I really wanted to find out about myself, and everything I did became a trial by fire, an adventure through hoops of fire normally reserved for tigers and Dante himself.
I ended up going to Tanzania for 2.5 weeks as a teacher and volunteer. This isn’t the post for the whole story, nor could a singular post contain the whole story if it tried. The important thing here is what I thought I learned about myself; insular, strange, but competent. Strong willed, and able to overcome challenges. I thought myself strong, creative, and if anything, possibly a bit annoying but well liked overall. I have no idea what other people thought of me, and at the time, I had given up on giving a shit about it.
I got back home, and here I am two months later typing at a computer after lying down on a hardwood floor for about an hour. I have no idea why.
I was hoping that by really putting pressure on myself I would improve and change, and yet it feels like everything is back to the way it was before the year started. It feels like such a waste.