NOTE: Please, PLEASE read this through to the end. It's worth it, I think.
Owl City makes me want to write. I don’t know why. Maybe because he’s just so weird and the lyrics don’t exactly make much sense except they do… Maybe because my mind works in a very odd way. Who knows.
People naturally want to belong. Be accepted. Find their place in the world. They search and search and conform and change trying to fit in with certain people or make people like them. It’s never ending, it seems. And school just makes it worse. Kids try to fit in with their classmates and everything. And that continues for 12+ years of school. And then college. But college changes up the game a bit. At that point, you’ve pretty much found who you are. When you get to college you tweak a bit and finalize things and make those last shifts according to the new community. And then you declare a major and get to know others with the same major and be friends with them and eat lunch with them. It’s wonderful.
But when you get to college and it’s a bit of a bigger shift than average (like a homeschooler going to a big college or a public school kid going to a “Christ-centered learning environment” college) it makes refining the character you spent those 12+ years defining a bit more difficult.
I spent 5th grade to 12th grade at a public charter school (which basically means that we didn’t get a lot of funding). It was a shift from the private Christian school I had attended previously. And I spent those 8 years in public school floundering and struggling with my faith and swaying and solidifying my character. I went from not very committedly religious to getting baptized and joining a church. But all that time, I had become someone. The situations I was put in due to public school, the relationships I had formed me. I had created memories, done things I regretted, had my heart broken, been alone, found friends, switched friend groups, bloomed into a social butterfly so to speak, realized just how many people I knew. And most importantly, became comfortable with who I was.
When I left for college, I left behind everything I knew. I moved 5 BIG states away to a tiny Podunk town in the middle of cornfields. No joke. 1.1 square mile is this town. Well, village technically. But I left behind friends, family, love, respect, everything I had spent nearly 18 years building and finding and gathering. I knew one person at this new school. I didn’t realize it at the time but I would have to gain it all back.
I’m gunna stop right now.
And tell you all that this is nowhere near what I had planned for this blog post. I had planned to write about how I want to belong, how I want to declare a major and have a purpose… Maybe that will come.
I probably only survived those first days, weeks and months at Cedarville because I didn’t realize that. Sure, it was rough. I wanted my mom to turn around and come pick me up. I cried myself to sleep a lot. But… I dunno. I survived.
I was put in a new environment. I was living in a hall with 18 other girls that I had never met before. I was at the bottom of the food chain again. I had to get used to new bathrooms, food, humidity (ew), living situations, relationships. I stuck close to the people I vaguely knew – girls who I had seen in my hall, girls who had introduced themselves to me, things like that. I ate lunch alone a lot, didn’t know where to sit in my classes…
I got to know new people. I sat with one girl who was in my hall but also in my Intro to Lit class. And through her, I got to know another girl who lived in my dorm. And now we’re pretty good friends. I got to know my neighbor really well. And she introduced me to her “breakfast buddy” that she got to know through eating breakfast at an absurdly early time in the morning. My little network of people grew a bit. And then I got to know people in my classes, my brother hall, more girls in my hall, etc. And it grew a little more.
And then I worked on Hello Dolly.
AHA! This is where I’ll put that bit from earlier in. ;)
Wait. Let me back up.
Through this entire networking process, I also wanted to declare a major. Just another way to network myself and get to know people and feel a sense of belonging. Somehow, I stumbled upon Theater. I think it was Prince Eric in my brother hall. Who knows. But it was a bit of interior design, fashion design, make-up, hair, being a princess… It was a bit of everything I wanted to do when I was a kid. It seemed perfect! I dove into my second semester with a couple of theater classes on my plate. One required me to work on one of the shows. I planned to work on Hello Dolly with Prince Eric. It didn’t work out that those hours would count for my class, but… That’s another blog post.
Suddenly, my hours were consumed with whip-stitching, ironing (and lots of it), hemming, and a blur of new faces. I got to know Molly and Holly and so many cast members. I felt… Justified, I guess. I was working toward something tangible. I was accomplishing something I felt was worthwhile. I was out of my little dorm room of a shell and networking. I was blooming. I was belonging.
Just read a couple of my previous blog posts to see exactly how I was doing during those weeks.
I got to know and love not only the people but the work, the atmosphere, the situations, the experience. I was there and actively participating! I was having a blast! But… I wasn’t a major. I wasn’t a minor. It wasn’t a hobby. I had very little history in theater. I had no way of justifying my being there. Everyone in authority in my life was telling me it wasn’t right or that I shouldn’t be a theater person or that I wouldn’t be good at it – that I needed something less all-consuming. I didn’t feel like I could, or should, belong. I was just there to meet requirements for a class (that didn’t work out) that I was taking to try on something that many people were telling me was foolish.
We all feel this need to belong. We all have this need to network ourselves and have relationships – friendships, significant others, family, a community that we belong to. And when you get to college, your major is one HUGE way that you do that. When I worked on Hello Dolly, often many of us would be eating transfer meals from the Hive in the hallway with cast members who were passing time before costume checks. I have a music major friend who often eats with other music majors. Sometimes I’ll have plans to eat lunch or dinner with her and then suddenly it becomes not just me and her but me and her and six random music majors that I don’t know. I think, through writing this, I have just realized why it bothers me so much. When I am eating with her and then suddenly there are so many other music people, she belongs. She understands their comments about various music professors, she understands the music lingo, she understands the certain community that comes with being a music major. I don’t. I don’t belong to that community. I’m not a part of that group. And I don’t have a major, a community, a group that I do belong to. I feel incomplete in my identity as a college student.
Haha, no pun intended.
Now I think that my secret resentment for them (them being my taco group made up of Pineapple, Mittens, and Alpie), my slight cold-shoulder treatment toward all three of them is because they belonged in a way that I didn’t. I was chalking it up to them being similar (in totally arbitrary ways) to the group of friends I had in high school that I left to random personality quirks. I knew in a way that I was the odd one in the bunch. Like the “which one of these is not like the other” puzzles you give to little kids. I was the one they were supposed to segregate out. I was the one that didn’t fit in with the rest. I knew that I did not belong in quite the same way as they did. I think it’s because of that.
I’ve only got a couple more of General Education classes left to take before I need to start taking classes relevant to my (non-existent) major. As that time grows closer, I was realizing more and more that I didn’t belong.
Now I just need to figure out where I belong. There’s a sever difference in loving the idea of something and actually loving that something. For example, I’d love to be the kind of sophisticated soul that loves tea. However, I actually hate the taste of tea. So I need to figure out if I love the idea of being a part of that elusive Theater Major community or if I actually love being a part of it. As of right now, given my current situation and my past with working on Hello Dolly and See How They Run, I really do think that I love being a part of the productions. Of seeing my name in the programs. Of seeing the jacket I hemmed the sleeves up ¼ inch (yep. It was INSANE. So tiny. And pointless in my opinion :P ) on an actor. Of being able to locate the parts of the set that I helped paint.
This started as a rather disjointed ramble and turned into a rather eloquent epiphany.
I think I am done for today.