my bag was packed, the pencils were sharpened, and a sandwich and juice box were wrapped to go. today was my first day of school. instead of stuffing my life into a trapper keeper...this time around, my return to the classroom intersects with a daunting anniversary of sorts: it was ten years ago (TEN!) when i started my freshmen year of college. its funny the way life stages often bump into reminders of the past. ten years ago, email was still in its relative nascent stage, Netscape was the ISP of choice, and people used pay phones. i know. pay phones.
as i shuffled through throngs of students at Washington Square today, it was tough not to marvel at how much younger (and smaller), trendier and more self-involved undergrads seem these days-- and a thought flashed through my mind-- they have no idea, but things are just barely beginning for them.
in many ways, this is a beginning for me as well. but a decade later, it's hard not to wrap this "back to school" moment with a yarn of perspective: the cumulative effects since my horribly naive, mortifyingly sheltered freshmen self has helped to inform the notion of who i am, where i've been and what has ultimately led me to this exact point. sure, there are some common denominators with those crazy college kids--we both attend lectures, bitch about our study groups, and hope to beat the curve on exams-- but there's a fundamental difference between the grad student "purpose" and the college student "experience." in college, i thought that THAT TIME would make or break my life--that i'd do all my growing and all my learning in that vacuum of four years. but today, settling into my first class, i fully appreciated the grad student perk of hindsight-- its okay to make mistakes, change course a few times, not know what you want, and live with your insecurities. ten years later, i'm much more prepared to handle the challenges...and most proud of the fact that no parent or teacher had a hand in putting (or pressuring) me to take this step. my notebook is ready for some action. this time, i'm doing this for me.