It's no great secret that I am a student, not one of those "can't wait to get out of school" types, but an actual student. The person who considers learning to be an experience that can take a lifetime to achieve and never would you ever want to even consider stopping. When I graduated from undergrad with a BS (double major in English and Psychology), my only goal was to get out of that place. I was done with Ferrum College, the township of Ferrum (such as it is), Rocky Mount, and Franklin County as a whole. I was done. But after taking a few months off of school, my mind began to drift. I began to notice a listlessness in my life that I had never experienced before. The only solution I could come up with was to get back to school!
I was so used to having a clear, defined goal. Pass this class, get an A, take another class, get another A, and then graduate. Everything in my life had been working towards graduation and once that had happened, I was supposed to go off and start something new. But what was new? There was nothing new. I had worked my way through college, so having a job was not new at all. Graduate School! That was new and not something I had considered until that point. And so I went. I took the classes, I got the A's, and I graduated. A Master's degree in English. What an accomplishment! Look at all I can now achieve that I have this pretty piece of paper on the wall that says I took classes and am supposed to be a smart person, or at least an educated individual. But what was I really? I was mindless. I was following a dream that I didn't realize wasn't mine! I mean, sure, it was a cool idea. Get a PhD in English and be the English professor that everyone talked about because they were just either so awesome or so different that everyone wanted to take their classes, even though they were really hard. I wanted to be the professor that worked the students the hardest and as a result, the students produced their best work ever! I wanted to teach them how to think. But what did I think? How did I think? Did I think?
And so in January I started looking for something new and found it in my past.
In my past, I grew up in the church, spent most of my life in one (or several), and had a good life in it. But then something happened. Someone happened. He came in guise of being a friend and someone I could trust and turned out to be a tyrant. A cult leader. And I was his follower. He said he liked black, suddenly I only owned black clothing. He liked girls with long hair, I grew mine out. He spoke harsh words, I was instantly contrite. I once wrote a short story about him in my Non-Fiction writing class and had all of the guys in the class ready to deck him and all the girls in the class ready to hide from him-- both of which are valid reactions and I wanted to do both over the course of three years.
For three years I was a stool pigeon. I was a door mat. I don't remember most of it because it's not worth remembering. But that experience made me not want to see the inside of a church sanctuary ever again, much less get involved with any people at said church. Sure, there were a few good things that came out of that. My sister for example- a VERY good result. But does the good outweigh the bad? Who can say?
But January 2008 brought a new need to my life. I had a degree, I had friends, I had a loving family, but I had no peace in my heart. I was anxious all the time, and yet apathetic. I cared about my friends and family, but not about myself and certainly not about my future. How was I supposed to survive in this world without any peace?! I'm not talking about anything too "high and religious" here, I'm just talking about the ability to look at yourself in the mirror and not want to gag or pop some serious pillage!
And so, to start the new year, I started a new me. I went to church, I met people, I got involved again, and I was happy! Happy with myself, happy with where I was and what I was doing, and I had a sense that other people and even God was pleased with me. (Do you know what it feels like to know that God is pleased with you?!?! It's indescribable. The kind of indescribable that some music is, there are just no words.)
And so, here I am. Eight months later and more at peace than I have ever been in my entire life! I have learned more this year then I did my entire four years of high school (which was at a small, Christian private institution). I have friends who love me and actually give a crap about how I feel and how I'm doing from day to day. I have friends who pray for me. People care enough about me to talk to God about me! (Again, indiscribable) I have a good job, it's a little dull, but it's not stressful by any means. I'm apartment hunting with a friend who I love dearly. I'm even taking online classes from Liberty University (a place I had previously sworn that I would NEVER attend). In about two years I will have a Master's degree in Professional Counseling and I will be able to help people much like where I was at the beginning of the year. People who are at the end of their rope. People with whom I can empathize.
What do these next two years hold for me? Lots of reading, lots of changes, and lots of growing. Growing pains hurt, but you always end up bigger and stronger when it's all said and done. And so my answer is yes, I will let this journey be my home.