To quote a friend: “I was Spongebob in 1st year; and now I’ve become Squidward in 4th year.”
When I was a child, I used to be terrified of the dark. One day, my father told me that all I had to do when I felt afraid was to go inside my head and turn the light on. “Its all in your head, you see?” he would say, and it always worked.
I’ve been experiencing a different kind of darkness since the first day back at school. No sadness, no happiness, no depression, no anxiety. Just nothingness. I feel numb. I’ve muted my inwardness. I don’t care about anything any more. Nothing seems to matter–except my political theory classes which are a perfect venue to expIore this nothingness. I can’t even cure this with reflective withdrawal because my body no longer has enough energy to spend on rumination. I am exhausted. Longer hospital shifts, 6 am wake up calls, post-grad anxieties, Nietzsche, Hegel and Heidegger…that was my winter break (obvs, I enjoyed the latter). I even found the cure for social awkwardness after a few parties—which is GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD. But I am not the same Sarah any more. Something changed.
It’s tough to turn the light on, when every drop of energy in your body is spent on commuting between three cities (five locations, six people with different pick up and drop off locations and class/work schedules and rehab shifts), extra-curriculars and school-work.Someone has to be with my dad at the stroke rehab facility 24/7, which means I have to balance and plan my life not only around that but also around the pick up and drop-off schedules of my siblings. But with my new G license and car privileges I am hoping life will be a bit easier in a few weeks! I have become Nietzsche’s Russian soldier who decides to just lie in the snow during a battle in which the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against him. My mind keeps entertaining the possibility of just giving up and raising the white flag. Why does giving up seem most desirable when the end is so near? Have you ever felt like this?
“I’m over it. I just want to graduate.”
“My heart just isn’t in it anymore and it’s annoying that I’ve committed myself until April”.
With all the stress, I do not like who I am becoming. Debby Downer and Giving Up Gary have set up shop in my mind. I want to graduate. I want to pull of a few more amazing events with my clubs and organizations. I want to want to try in my lower year classes – which I have to take as graduation requirements. But I’m experiencing a weird sense of de-motivation. The disorientation has flipped the script on how I used to make sense of and give meaning to my actions and now I am stuck in this state of meaninglessness until I figure out what really matters.
I feel like I’ve sublated everything I have ever believed in and am trying to find home in this newfound otherness—all over again. BAH! I am still mediating the emotional damage and am seeing the world and my place in it from a completely new prism. My friend in psychology diagnosed me with post-traumatic growth. Ha Ha. Confused and disoriented. That’s how I feel and it is starting to show in my poor class attendance.
But amidst all this chaos and disorientation, I am learning and growing. The will to endure in a time where odds are stacked against you can be a beautiful lens to explore the meaning of life and who you really are. I’ve learned that political and legal theory – not law or politics – is for me. I am good at thinking and getting others to think and ask questions about our role in the way the world works. My parents even gave me their blessing to pursue a PhD one day – which is huge, considering a few months ago they believed that economic security, marriage and dating were more important. I’ve even learned how to be “normal” in social settings in a way which I can stay true to myself and not upset the flow of sociality! WAHOOO! And for the first time in my life, I feel brave. I am doing things now I would have NEVER done before. I’ve discovered an odd sense of fearlessness through the numbness.
Sometimes life isn’t dandy, but that is a part of student life. It took me a week, but I think I am finally coming alive again from this numbness. I am in LOVE with my new courses, am making time to see many of my friends (as Matteo said, these may be the last few months I have with them in Toronto), acing my assignments and am starting to plan for extracurricular events. I’m trying to be pro-active and take the Academic Success Center’s advice!