In my last post I had explained a little bit about my first year of college. I mentioned the going and the coming back but now I want to share some of the middle. So much has changed since but I have learned to love what happened to me during it. If you were to ask me if I regretted accepting to move to the city on the day I had arrived I would have said yes. Without hesitation. However, now that I have had a chance to look back on it I would say that it was the best move for me. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a year of hell in some regards but it was needed to know what I know now.
I left my home with a very one sided perspective on life. I wasn’t fully oblivious to the struggles people have to face but I wasn’t as grateful for the chances I have gotten as I should have been. The one thing that really got me through that year? It was meeting the many diverse people that New York has to offer. I did a great deal of crying that year, not only by myself but with others in classrooms as well. The greatest chance that the college gave me was the opportunity to sit among students and professors of various backgrounds. My teachers encouraged us to share our stories. Share anything about ourselves that made us who we are. There was one professor in particular that had us go around the room at the end of the semester and speak of something that another student said or did to influence us. No one was at a loss for words. One girl who was pregnant shared her difficulty of waking each morning and making it to class while growing another human. Her biggest motivation was that class and how our kindness throughout the year made it easier for her to achieve her dream of getting a college degree while expecting a baby on the way. Another student who was a former soldier turned to this girl in our class who had a husband overseas in the military and broke down as he spoke in admiration of her passion and support he saw that she had for her husband. He explained that his former wife rarely shed a tear for him during his time serving and how he loved that this girl expressed so much love for hers. He could see the suffering, sadness and love in her eyes every time she entered the room and how he had wish that his wife had felt the same about him.
I heard so many stories that morning – all of them filled with love, pain, joy and so much emotion that left us all blurry eyed. When it came time for me to speak I knew exactly what I needed to say. I needed to thank each one of them for sharing what they had – not only on that day but each time they walked into the classroom. Before I had arrived in the city I don’t think my response would have been good. I would have probably been laughed at for being very simple minded. But maybe not. I expressed all I had felt that year including my basic life back home. I told them how although I had my own issues that I had faced that it paled in comparison to what they face everyday. They welcomed my story and reassured me that although we might not all go through the same type of struggle that it doesn’t matter – every story no matter how big or small is important. It was because of them that I can understand that now.