A Personal Revolution

I am fundamentally different from the young man I was just 9 months ago when I stepped on the bus for the Sapere Aude pre-orientation study trip for the Humanities course. In my first year at Davidson College, I grew as a person in ways that I could not have predicted. For my prose work, I will talk about the personal revolution I underwent, along with a few short poems I composed during the year. 

I spent the first 13 years of my life in Kernersville, North Carolina, about an hour north of Davidson. Then, just before 8thgrade, I moved to Aurora, Colorado. So, I spent some of my formative years away from my extended family and older brother. Since I have returned to the Old North State for college, I have noticed the differences between my Colorado lifestyle and my Davidson one. I have been able to see my family, particularly my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and brother, far more than I did during high school. I have become closer with them and have learned about the value of seeing a loved one. The value of being there to support them and of having them support you. A few weeks ago, after hanging out with my brother, I pondered my new family values among other things in the following poem:

A springtime Saturday
Just like any other one
When you get a meal with your grandfather and brother
And you decide to break up with your girlfriend of over a year 
Then your brother tells you that he partied hard in college 
But he wouldn’t recommend it
You get high with him and walk through a park
And he tells you that he’s been diagnosed with depression 
You reminisce with him and have more fun than you’ve had in a while

Suddenly you are thrown back to the real world as you drive up the interstate
Back to problems and places
Where you have to think about the consequences of your actions
Where you hate your roommate
Because he refuses to speak to you and rarely leaves the room
And you worry about whether or not you have any real friends
And you drown in work
But what keeps you going is the knowledge that if you wait long enough,
You’ll arrive at another perfect day like today

The conversation and day jarred me, but it was still so important to be with my brother that I wouldn’t give that day up for the world. I also touched on another important part of my first year: the feelings of isolation that have been hard to suppress.

I do not have a good relationship with my current roommate. He is quiet, removed, and difficult to talk to. I tried to become friends with him in the first months of the year, but since October our relationship has declined to the point where we no longer speak to each other. I try to spend as little time in my room as possible. Additionally, I came into college in a long-distance relationship with my high school girlfriend. I tried to stay with her as long as I could, but I realized that in order to focus on my life at Davidson, I needed to move on. Finally, I felt isolated because of my struggles with shyness and awkwardness. I have always been a pretty shy person, although it has slightly diminished over time. Even so, I find it difficult to relate to people when I first meet them, and it takes me a long time to develop friendships with a true connection in which I feel a true comfortable expressing my feelings. Because of these factors, I have often felt lonely and isolated in the past year. In light of these feelings: I wrote this poem:

You look at me and
your eyes
grow wide

You suck in
a breath
and hold back
a scream

For you have seen me
Just like everyone else

Seen more for the
I am.

A ghost

However, I have been able to combat this feeling by realizing that I am not alone, and I have felt less and less isolated as I have integrated myself into Davidson. I am on the ultimate team DUFF and have formed strong bonds with my teammates there. I also have a strong source of friends in FIJI and have made friends with some of my fellow Humesters in the Humanities class. And I trust that over time, my current friendships will strengthen, and I will continue to branch out and make new friends in other areas. Here is a poem that I wrote celebrating the sport as a wonderful part of my experience:

A spinning disc
A quick clap of hand on plastic
Cleats kick up turf as they churn downfield

You prepare your cut
Feign left, dart right
You’re wide open
It’s flying right to you

You jump
And pull the frisbee out of the air
For one single moment
All thoughts and stress leave your mind

All thoughts and stress leave your mind
All thoughts and stress leave your mind

The last thing that has shaped my first year has been my development into a more “woke” person. Before Davidson, I was ignorant of the prevalence of such social issues as racism, sexism, mental health, and poverty. Through my studies, particularly in the humanities, I have become more conscious of the problems that need to be fixed and of my role in helping to create solutions for them. Of course, I am not some social crusader or a champion of equality. However, I do find myself thinking more about the presence of diversity in the media I consume and about the presence of bigotry in the things I say or people I surround myself with. College has definitely made me think more about the broader meaning of my actions and the actions of others. This is something that I am thankful for. As an example, here is the poem I wrote, pondering mental health, when I learned of the suicide of a friend I had in high school. I hope that this poem, even in some small way, can help celebrate his legacy:

How do you deal with the death of a friend?
Do you forget as much as you can, and try to live your life in honor of him?
Or do you think of him often, reminding yourself that his spirit, while out of his body, now lives vicariously through you in some abstract way?

How do you deal with the death of a friend?
Do you focus on school or work, tasks that seem silly to worry about when confronted with the fact that a life can end so fast?
Or do surround yourself with others close to you, holding them tight and praying that nothing happens to them either?

How do you deal with the death of a friend?
Do you accept that the world is a scary place that you will never understand, with no purpose?
Or do you double down, praying to God that he will provide the answers, and hoping that if you follow him, you will never have to be in that kind of place?

How do you deal with the death of a friend?
Do you chide yourself for not talking to him more, for not reaching out to him when you heard about the break up?
Or do you realize that you can only focus on so much, and it’s selfish and unhealthy to think that you are so responsible for others?

How do you deal with the death of a friend?
Do you continue to use comedy and entertainment to distract yourself from the problems and suffering and pain of the world?
Or do you drop your acts, finding some other way to cope?

How do you deal with the death of a friend?

On that sobering note, I will end my self-reflection of my personal revolution in my first year at Davidson. Despite feelings of isolation, I became closer to my family, and made a lot of new friends. I am more aware of the issues within the world around me. However, I am obviously not yet fully developed, and I am excited to see where the growth within the next years of college and life take me.