New Soul in an Old World
I have recently graduated college. And all of a sudden, I am on the precipice of a new beginning, a kind of beginning I have experienced only once before: on my first day of Kindergarten, believe it or not.
Let me take you back to Prairie Village, Kansas. St. Ann’s. Age 6.
For two years, I had attended pre-school conveniently down the street from my home. The classroom had been populated with neighborhood kids whom I had known since before I could remember. Today, I was a ten-minute drive from my home. I knew I was in for something new and I asked (or more likely cried for) my mother to hold my hand, come inside, and stay with me the whole day. Of course, she gently declined the latter suggestion and left me in the room with seventeen other children I didn’t know and another woman who wasn’t my mother but wanted me to sit down at a desk that was just my size. I followed because it seemed like she knew what she was doing and I surely didn’t.
For the first few seconds in that desk (which was not the table I had been accustomed to in pre-school), it was like feeling the cold wind that rushes over your warm sleeping body the moment your mother pulls the blanket off your bed in the winter to indicate it’s time to wake up. I was awake, and in the world anew. I had a new mentor to learn from who wasn’t my mother – she was my teacher. From here, I would learn to make friends, to complete my work optimally, and to develop an authentic taste for life. As my confidence grew, so did my desire to embark on new challenges that would test my limits and discover new experiences in which I could use my strengths. I was curious and I wanted to improve myself. I enjoyed working with people and writing.
I forged success in academia for seventeen years in four different states and four different schools. I met and appreciated those who were very similar and also those who were very different from me. Above all, I grew most comfortable doing a certain set of activities throughout this period of my life: work hard in school, and later on, spend the summer earning money and doing interesting things.
As I grew older, I understood the importance of branching out from academia to gain experiences that would differentiate me from every other degree-holder. Yet I was always grounded in the comforts of the classroom, surrounded by students and teachers who shared in my quest.
At my last academic institution – Rice University – all graduates complete their education by walking through the Sally Port, a renowned archway part of the oldest building on campus, Lovett Hall. When I crossed the threshold, it was a dualistic moment in which I was both at the apex and yet the base of things. From the moment I stepped foot in that Kindergarten classroom to the moment I processed through the Sally Port, I was working to equip myself to make something of myself outside of the classroom.
And so, I find myself, once more, feeling like I did in that small desk at St. Ann’s, like the wind is rushing over me, finally cozy in my desk, daring me to do it all again anew.
In the past few weeks alone, I have learned how to buy an apartment, how to buy a car, how to buy renter’s insurance, car insurance, electricity and cable; I have learned what a 401k is (well, kind of) and that’s just personal matters. I have a whole new world to learn at the Houston Chronicle, where I will begin my next journey of self-discovery and adventure. I can’t wait to do it all again, and yet, for the very first time.