On the Civil War, the Constitution, and the Struggle

My personal struggle, not to disappoint but I haven’t studied for my finals yet so I won’t be elaborating greatly on the struggles of the Civil War or the Constitution right now.

While I usually struggle to accomplish things like essays and homework quickly, meaning that I have to carve a lot of time out of my week for school, I’ve never had trouble comprehending subject matters. I imagined that college was going to more intellectually stimulating and for most of my time spent here, that wasn’t the case for me. Grant it, had I studied a hard science or mathematics, the case would be very different.

I didn’t though and I expected more from most of my classes than what I ended up with. That is not to say that I have not learned a lot, but I was just never as stumped or challenged as I had hoped I would be, until this semester.

Lawyer, I will not be. If my constitutional history course taught me anything, it is that my brain and court rulings do not mesh. Of course, the reading load for that class looked like this: books

That stack of white paper? That’s all Supreme Court rulings. Double column, 10 pt font court rulings. I can hardly bring myself to even look at the final exam for this course but thank God it is take home.

And then my Civil War/Reconstruction course was challenging in another way. I am not completely sure what sort of crazy baggage and misunderstandings I was walking into this class with but I can tell you right now that no view of history has been altered quite as much as my view of this ~~30 ~~ year time span has been. Most of the reason it was so profound was probably just the lack of knowledge I had about the time period to begin with.

That coupled with a professor who loves to play Devil’s advocate after asking impossible questions made for a whirlwind, taxing class.

It is painful, for sure, but usually worthwhile to be challenged, even if it comes at the expense of your GPA. If anything, it breeds humility.

Going on leave from my server job was probably the best decision I ever made. Yes, I’ve dipped into my savings but not as much as I thought I would and I’m tracking my spending really well and calculating how much I will have to put aside each month to pay myself back before I need that money for graduate school. Essentially, I keep my spending below a certain number and I will still have enough money to pay for two semesters before I fully pay myself back. Small price to pay for the mental and experience based benefits I reaped from this decision.

I am grateful, in the midst of this twilight hour of one season of my life, that my goodbyes are limited. I get to keep the community I fell backwards into this year and I even get to intern for it. I cannot imagine having to leave this new UKIRK family just yet.

The Rev wanted to give the seniors something useful. A pen for a political scientist is the perfect gift. 

The joke I’ve sort of adopted is that I am experiencing 8th grade graduation all over again. Clearly, I’ve hit a milestone but not a whole lot is changing. I feel zero anxiety over that.

I recalled last night a memory from May of 2013 and another twilight period. My friends and I had a place that we called “The Spot.” It was a field elevated above the city that probably belonged to someone but was unused nonetheless. We parked our cars and looked at the city lights, more times than I can count.

The night before our commencement ceremony we met at about 10 PM and sat in the back of my Beetle. We knew we were all parting ways but we never imagined the gulf that would develop between us. I don’t mean a gulf in our feelings for each other. We are all still friends. It’s more a gulf in time. On one shore, the four of us are crammed into the trunk of Beetle, preserved at 17 and relatively carefree, looking forward at a black hole of a future that wouldn’t reveal itself to any of us. I don’t think a single one of us is doing what we thought we would be doing. I sure as hell am not. I didn’t walk across the stage in J. Fred, shake the Principal’s hand and say: “Thanks for the education I’m gonna be a bureaucrat.” Yet. Here I am, with a fraction of an MPA and no apprehension about it.

And on the other side, four struggling but somewhat thriving twenty somethings, barely recognizable to the world we left behind. You don’t imagine that life works like that when you’re 17 and the four years in front of you look less like a furnace full of refining hurdles  and  more like a means to whatever end you think you want. You don’t imagine that 17 year old you wouldn’t recognize 21 year old you until you’re 21 and barely recognize yourself in the mirror.

Here we all are. Sure in the un-sureness of it all.




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