Monday, May 12, 2008

Graduation plus 1

It's been one year plus one day since I graduated from college and that made me think, "HOOM, what have I learned this year?"

This is my first year NOT being in school of some sort since I was 3 years old. And yet, to say that I've not been in a "learning environment" would clearly be a lie. But exactly what KIND of learning environment has it been? And what exactly (or not) have I learned?

1. I think this year has been an exercise in patience. Learning to be patient with others and with myself. I had to be patient in understanding, in trying to understand, in trying to communicate, in waiting for the wisdom to make some sense of all I've been experiencing, and patient in counting down 'til the end of this year.

2. I've learned that money doesn't exactly grow on trees. I even went completely totally bankrupt sometime in early January. I had less than $4 to my name. And I learned something. I learned that maybe squirrels are smart in hiding away their nuts for leaner times. And so I've learned a little about the value of money. Not only because I felt what it was like to have my tail between my legs poor, but also because I've finally had to "work" for it. I've really had to punch in (well, sign my name) my timecard every morning, answer to a "boss," and bend over backwards and smile even when I didn't want to because that was what my job required.

3. I've learned a lot about the value of friendship and the love and support of family. I've learned that having good friends REALLY IS the most valuable thing one can have. Even when all else fails, good friends can pull you through ANYthing. I've learned how wonderful it is to have a loving and supportive family. And how that family and those relationships can give you strength that distance can't affect.

4. I've learned what it's like to HAVE family. Having grown up in America, away from my large (and largely crazy) extended family, I was always jealous of my friends who got together with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and other relatives for big holidays and special occasions. I finally know what it's like to be with people who look somewhat like you, who share a history with you (maybe not one that either of US remembers, but the shared history of our grandparents and our parents' growing up), and people who are tied to you whether you like it or not. I've learned that certain quirks I have aren't mine alone, but are shared by these people who are at the same time both foreign and so familiar.

5. I've learned (a bit) about what it's like to stand on your own two feet and not always on the shoulders of those venerable giants who came before us (i.e. my parents). And although it will ALWAYS be the lessons they've taught me and the love they've shown me that support me from within, it's good to start seeing what life is like, as the Swahili say, "on my own." To have to solve problems without them by my side (literally), to fend for myself, to be "independent."

6. I've learned how much I love and need certain things and people and what things I can do without. This applies to all possible items: be they animal, vegetable, or mineral.

7. I've learned REALLY how much exactly I love learning and school. I can't WAIT to go back. I can't wait to be a student again. (regardless of the NYTimes article that more learned members of a species die earlier given the only variable is their learning experience).

8. And I know that learning is never over. (Another NYTimes article reporting that old dogs CAN learn new tricks). I will continue to grow and learn and mature (hopefully). This year has been a crazy one. A year ago, Tuesday we drove up to Boston to pick up my little sister and bring her home. Last year, the 3 of us drove up and 4 of us returned. This year my mom drives up alone and returns alone, going up just to help my sister move into her new abode for the summer semester. So much has changed, and yet - really nothing that MATTERS has changed.

I'll need to ponder upon this subject quite a bit more before it becomes quite lucid to me. Also, my eyes are drooping closed from the tiredness this great weekend had upon me. I guess it all comes full circle. I spent this year's (2008's) graduation weekend with the good friends I hadn't yet made and the family I didn't quite know a year ago. The people that, if I had such an event this year, I would've wanted to spend this special weekend with.

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