I am making my glorious return to college today. I went in for one lecture on Friday and had dinner with friends, but haven’t started into that good learning yet. Having been sick for most of January, I missed the first week and all my intro lectures, and have been flicking through course outlines and grimacing at the number of group projects that I have to do this semester (it’s four. UGH.) I should be preparing readings and forms and my bag for the day, but I am not. What I am trying (not very successfully) to do is to prepare myself for what college holds: space and people.
When you spend a month in the company of a handful of people, in a handful of places, the world becomes self-contained and finite and manageable. And then one goes back to a 13,000-strong campus to complete a degree that you are essentially making up as you go along, and the world and society and the sheer amount of other humans that share this same space with you becomes massive and overwhelming and terrifying.
I do not mean to claim this in any agoraphobic way (a condition which I do not have), but rather as a niggling underlying set of thoughts and feelings that poke away at the consciousness to reveal the chaotic shape of society. These instructions to focus on my own little bit of the world, coupled with my inability to put a pin in the larger injustices and marginalisations that surround us, leads to this overcoming awareness at the expounding volume of the population.
I have become quite adept, over the years, at maintaining a calm demeanour at all times. The occasional straw-breaking-the-camel’s-back meltdown pops up every now and then, but for the most part, I keep a good face, a haphazard balance between mother and mystique (or so I tell myself.) This allows me to go through the day and (to some extent) interact with strangers and acquaintances without revealing my increasing discomfort around anyone who does not fall into the categories of family or close friends.
Things are boring. Classes are boring. There are too many thoughts and hardly enough brain space to order them into a rational fashion. The world is very large and filled with people. Writing helps. Even when it’s an incoherent ramble.