Yesterday, I started fall semester at school, and it’s been a whirlwind already. It’s only Tuesday, but it feels like Friday. Yeah, one of those weeks. I’ve been anxious and irritated, and yesterday, I sat in my spot in the stacks for a long time journaling, trying to figure out why I was feeling so negative about something that I love so much: school.
Today, I woke up early (5am is a slap in the face!) and was feeling chipper and happy. I got to school at 7am, and it was so quiet. I loved it. It was such a shock yesterday after the mellow vibe of summer school in Boulder to have all 30,000 CU students back all at once. So, this morning I learned that early morning at school is the best time to be there. But in the back of my mind was this gnawing feeling that the serenity would only last so long, that “the students” (like they’re a collective monster) were waiting in the wings, about to pounce around 9 or 10. By 11am, I was back in irritation station. I barely made it through my last class, and when I got to the gym at 2, I broke down in tears. This is not how I want school to go/be/feel.
So, where is this negativity coming from? I can tell that I am so irritated by the community at school, with the apathetic attitude. Now, of course, not everyone fits into this massive generalization I am laying out before you, but I have encountered student apathy in the classroom way more often than I’d like to.
Why would anyone skip class when they’re paying thousands of dollars to be there? Why would you not do the work? Why isn’t school important or valued amongst these students I’ve encountered? I’ll say it again – I realize that I’m making a generalization. And I also realize that when I was 19, I skipped class and didn’t do the work and didn’t value school as much as I do now. We can get that off the table. I know that I have age and experience on my side when it comes to my work ethic being more developed. But I am so distracted by the apathy, by the bad attitudes, by the stark contrast in the values I hold and the values the community holds. It’s hard to get work done with this irritation shuddering through me in this frenetic, uncomfortable way.
I feel like I am being put through a test. Maybe not a test, but I am sure as hell doing some good learning. I have been making mistakes in how I treat people almost all of my waking hours these last two days of school, and I am learning a lot about compassion and patience. I prayed for so long yesterday that I would learn how to love people as God does – unconditionally. I will always fall short since I am not omniscient and am not able to know everyone’s full story or able to understand the depths of their emotions or experiences, as the Spirit does, but I want so desperately to be someone who LOVES people. Like, really, really loves people.
I have such a short supply of patience and I have such high expectations for people. I scrutinize unfairly, I make snap judgments, and I label people without a filter – idiot, stoner, floozey, ignorant, apathetic, rude, selfish, mean. I am owning up to a lot of (pardon me) shit right now. And I am doing that because, honestly, I am so sick of being like this. I know that we all do this sort of thing in some measure, but I know that I have these habits or engage in these behaviors because I used to be bullied as a kid. I was bullied so I became a bully. And that defensive strategy never really went away, but I don’t need it anymore! I am an adult, and a confident one at that. And the more I learn about myself, the more confident I become that God set me apart and I am fine the way I am.
I am starting to have my eyes opened to the fact that loving others is SO hard, but it’s a little easier the more we love ourselves. Think about it, why would we be so judgmental or defensively rude to someone if we fully loved ourselves? And I don’t mean vanity or narcissism, I mean knowing the fullness of our worth. Why would there be any reason to deny someone love if we knew how great love is? I think the only reason I deny loving others is because I lack love myself. At the end of the day, it’s about security, safety, and faith.
My love of learning – it is such a gift. God saw this talent in me, this beautiful intellect that I’ve been given, and blessed me by cultivating it through the opportunity to go back to school. I don’t want it to be soured by a bad attitude. If I could go anywhere in the world – Yale, Notre Dame, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan – would I go there? I am tempted to say yes because the classroom environments might be more focused, but I would always be lacking something. Friendships, which I have here, closeness to family, which I have here, a great job for my husband, which we have here… It’s temping to say “If only this or that were different, I’d be happier/nicer/less irritable” but it’s just not true. Our demons follow us, and there will always be loads of difficult people to love.
This semester, I have three goals: to get straight A’s, to continue getting healthier and more fit, and to make 2 new friends at school. The underlying prayer behind all of this though is this: Spirit, help me to love people as you love them – wholly and unconditionally, and help me to be free with kindness, to be full of hope, and rich in compassion – for myself and for others.