{thoughts of an entitled high school senior on the college experience}

      I’m a second-semester high school senior. I’m going to college in the fall to study what I’m passionate about, to pursue a career, to learn new things, to meet new people. I’m excited, because college is a change, a new chapter, the next step, and I think it’s going to be wonderful. I’m going to college because I want to, because for me and for what I want to do, it makes sense. It’s not for everybody, and that’s okay.

     I’ve heard a lot about the “college experience” throughout my high school years. I’ve been told that college will be the best years of my life. That college is where I’ll find myself. That when I graduate from college I will be a different person.

     But I don’t want to be a different person in four years. I want to be a more educated and experienced version of the person I am now. I want to have discovered new passions and learned new skills and had some fun.  I want college to help me grow, but that doesn’t mean I need to become a different person.

     Think that sounds a little pretentious? Keep reading, it gets worse.

     I want my four years of college to be great, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they are. And yes, I do want to look back and say my college years were wonderful. But I don’t want to say they were the best years of my life. That seems to me like it would be sad. I hope that when I’m forty years old–with eighteen years of life experience after college–I don’t look back and say I peaked in college. I hope I look back and say that college was great and so was high school and so was  everything before and after that. I hope I look back and say that my college years helped me in life, but they weren’t the best because life after college is pretty great too.

     I’ve never really liked the term “finding yourself” because I think it sounds too whimsical and too final. It refers to when one learns more about the purpose of their existence, of their place in the world, of who they are. I understand that college offers countless opportunities to explore and learn and that many people find their path in college. They discover that they enjoy science and decide to pursue it as a career, or they realize they were never really meant to be an English major and instead decide to study art. Many people find their purpose while they’re in college, and that’s great. It really is. But I think the term “finding yourself” is misleading because it gives the illusion of being something you should pursue when in reality, it’s something that just happens, every day of your life. Before, after, and during college, you learn new things about yourself. It’s not just one epiphany moment in college. It’s that moment, all the moments that came before, and all the moments that will come after. You can’t not find yourself because life doesn’t work that way. It’s the same with saying you need to “find your voice.” No, you don’t. You already have your voice. You just need to seek out opportunities to use it. (This is something I learned from William Stafford, one of my favorite poets).

     I think I’m going to have an amazing college experience. I think I choose a great college and an even better career. These things may change, of course, and I’ll be okay with that.

     I hope you feel the same way. I hope you love your college years. I hope you find your passion and learn new things and find a good group of friends and pursue your dreams.  I hope that good things happen to you in college and out of college. And if you’re not going to college, I hope all of the same things for you. I just hope you’re happy.

“It’s not about what the world can give to you, it’s what you can give to the world.”


{on libraries and community}

“Finding a community that reflects your creative interests or shares your mission will help you solidify your identity and offer a sense of belonging. . .might lead you to a place that’s just right, with people who make sense to you.”

~Carrie Barron, MD and Alton Barron, MD, “The Creativity Cure”

{on success and teens}

“They feel and act so competitive with their peers that true friendships suffer, they feel shame if they do not measure up, and they panic about the consequences of not being among the elite. Because they are so goal-oriented, overscheduled, and tired, creative life is nonexistent.”

“. . .this cultural phenomenon of kids whose entire lives are spent preparing for college admission. . .This is not a moral issue, but a mental health issue. Rigid ideas of success can be very pain and limiting.”

~Carrie Barron, MD and Alton Barron, MD, “The Creativity Cure”

{on happiness, creativity, life, and art therapy}

“Happiness is being absorbed in something–a dream, a mission, a project, an idea–greater than yourself.”

“Working through means that by repeated handling of your inner life–memories, feelings, issues, concerns–you wring out toxicities and craft a more hopeful and truthful narrative for yourself.”

“Writing helps you know what is going on inside you. When you write, you catch delicate, fleeting thoughts that you might otherwise dismiss.”

“And what is ordinary, anyway? I am sure you have encountered some astounding, selfless, generous, brilliant, astute, extraordinary people whom the world has never heard of–people who have a profound impact on the way you think, how you live your life, or what you believe in. . .”

“If you want to be at the top in whatever way, go for it, enjoy it, be proud, but do not lose your grounding.”

“. . .while the unexamined life is not worth living, the overly examined life is not worth living, either.”

~Carrie Barron, MD and Alton Barron, MD, “The Creativity Cure”

{on life and perfection}

“Everything I think of when I think of really living, living life to the full–all of my ideas are just the opening credits of sitcoms. See what I mean? My idea of life, it’s what happens when they’re rolling the credits.”

~M.T. Anderson, “Feed”

on entitlement

“Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rep because it’s used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn’t so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you’d better make sure you deserve it.”

~Mindy Kaling, “Why Not Me?”

on libraries, pt. 3

“We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protect the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.”

~Neil Gaiman, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”

on libraries, pt. 2

“Libraries are about Freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

“I worry that here in the twenty-first century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But to think that is to fundamentally miss the point.”

~Neil Gaiman, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”

on libraries

“I should mention here that librarians tell me never to tell this story, and especially never to paint myself as a feral child who was raised in libraries by patient librarians; they tell me they are worried that people will misinterpret my story and use it as an excuse to use their libraries as free day care for their children.”

~Neil Gaiman, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”

on banned books

“I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I’ve seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was R.L. Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.

“It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness.”

~Neil Gaiman, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”