Today has been such a long and exciting day, but as it winds down and I have found some time to reflect on finally graduating from junior college. After high school, I didn't have a lot of options, circumstance had put me in a place where I was thrust into the world without my big boy pants on. I took a handful of retail jobs; one even housed me in NYC for a little while. It wasn't awful. I actually don't have any complaints about pre-college living. I did what I needed to do, and I had fun while doing it.
By the time I was presented with an opportunity to go to college, I was positive that I had already become the person I was going to be. Sure, I would learn how to do a few equations, maybe even how to set up and MLA-style paper; but, I definitely wasn't going to learn anything about myself. I would go to class and go home; working full-time folding tee shirts at the mall. Not exciting, but I had already become accustomed to trudging through life pantless.
On my first day at Atlantic-Cape, I hid behind a wall in-between classes reading "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf; segregated from the student body while attempting to reconcile my most potent memories. Overlaying the past with the present, these moments of quiet introspection that I shared with Mrs. Dalloway still may be one of the most important of my entire college experience thus far.
I began to weigh the benefits of communication against the instinctual yearning for privacy. Eventually, I started peeking out from behind my fortress (a 3 foot brick wall painted white) and connecting with fellow classmates. Regardless of age or social status (among other things) we had something in common; we were all connected. Walking towards our uncertain futures, we would look up through the trees in the quad to peek at the sun. In time, we would drag some old blankets out to the center and read to each other. We would listen to the Shins. We would take blurry Polaroids to remember how happy and free we were.We still are are both of those things, maybe even more.
I joke around a lot, saying " I hate people" or "Humans are awful"; but if I have learned anything at ACCC it's that people are just plain amazing. ALL OF THEM. Even the guy on the bus who's butt crack was always hanging out has a story to tell. Every single person you see every single day for the rest of your life has a unique wisdom imparted from an incredible personal journey.
-In one of my first English classes, there was a 65 year old man, who decided that after years of being a line cook that he would like to earn a degree and become something more. AMAZING!
-A woman in pottery class used to be a playboy bunny! She was a fantastic woman with a kind heart who genuinely lit up the room by just being there. AMAZING!
(I'm crying a little. Give me a second)
-Today, I graduated with a boy who has a learning disability, but never missed a math class; even if it meant walking over 3 miles in the rain). AMAZING!
-A transgendered student (and friend) showed complete compassion and interest in everyone's personal struggles, while still dealing with her own. AMAZING!
-One of my very favorite professors is fighting a debilitating auto-immune disease, but still shows up to class everyday looking like she stepped out of a J. Crew catalog. AMAZING!
-Let's not forget about GMG or Two Shoes, who have made such a big impact that they have had entire posts dedicated to them! BOTH AMAZING!
I've never told any of these people that I was blown away by who they are or of the difference that they have made in who I am. There are so many more people that I've come in contact with during these first two years of college who know how important they are to me and my success.
THANK YOU PEOPLE OF ATLANTIC CAPE! You have changed me.
I'm really going to miss that place.
Tomorrow, I get to pull on my big boy pants for the first time; a life affirming action, no doubt. Everyday as I get dressed, I'll think back to this moment and, one leg at a time, I will conquer the world.