nobody told me this

It is mid-semester. The last couple of weeks of exams have weighed heavily on University students. After hearing from so many students on the verge of giving up, I write this letter.  This is an open letter to all those who are in the struggle, plan to join the struggle, and/or seek to understand the struggle for higher learning.

March 21, 2018

Dear Me,

Me?  Why is this letter addressed to me? It is addressed to me because sometimes me wants to scream. If this letter is successful, it will calm me from screaming. This letter will be my new mantra. Picture 013These will be the words that get me through this journey. These will be the words that remind me to go to bed after staying awake for 37 and 1/2 hours straight. These will be the words that remind me to at least buy a water to wash down the one meal I had for the entire day.  These will be the words that remind me that I am doing alright, even though my instructors think I’m not as smart as… she. Yes, she.  The she that seems to have all the right tools and right answers for everything.  These will be the words that remind me that I am doing my best, even when I don’t have bus fare to get to campus.  These will be the words that remind me that I do belong in University, even though I am not the same age or same class or same nationality as my classmates.  Me needs these words to remind me that exams are not set to destroy me, even though I feel destroyed. Exams are not set to break my spirit, even though they make me feel inadequate and overwhelmed.

Nobody told me that University would be so… like this.  But what I have to remember today is that today is no longer yesterday; it is no longer last week, last month, or even the first day of school.  Today is a triumph. I made it this far and I can keep going to the finish line of graduation.  If I can study, then I can pass my exams.

All I have to do is find the time to study….

I need to remember that there are only ever going to be 24 hours in each day.  I can’t change what the English have set as a standard of “productivity.”  I cannot change the fact that the Industrial Revolution created a need to synchronize time and that synchronization was fueled by the linking of time with capitalism.  I cannot change the fact that this history of capitalism is what first extended the work day beyond sun-light hours.  So, as I trod on this journey, it is not worth my energy or my time to get mad at time for running out. I cannot get mad at time for expiring.  For expiring and running out is what time does. What I can do and what I will do is manage my time and my expectations better.

Even though education has become more and more of a business, I have enrolled in University because I seek to maintain or earn a good job that will earn me good money.  Even though education sometimes seems to place administrators at the center and students on the fringes, I have enrolled in University because I seek to uplift myself and my family.  And even though I love my family and want to do good by them… And even though I respect and appreciate the money that they have spent to support my education… And even though they mean well when they push me to be the doctor-lawyer-engineer that they are now or could never be, my University experience is my own. My coursework and exam grades are earned by my ink-sweat-tears of study hours.

This letter is proof that me is not a student ID number. I am a scholar. I must remember that every long-term goal begins as a short-term plan.  In each of my classes I will earn knowledge through self-study.  I will earn marks that I am proud of.  As much as I can do so, I will make the most of my time at University by studying that which makes me happy and I will make friendships that I will have for a lifetime. I will challenge myself and I will challenge my instructors to be better because a useful education is one that makes everyone think more.

I will read these words again and again until they are my own because nobody told me this before I enrolled in University.  Now I know.

Very sincerely mine,

Me