The English Program Stole My Joy (a post graduation reflection)

After a two year break after graduating high school I decided after a spiral of depressive and suicidal thoughts that now (summer 2013) was a good time to change my life, and go back to college.I was always an over achiever and I had taken so many college classes in high school that I had about 2 years worth of credit already so frankly I was burnt out by the time I graduated. Or at least that was part of it, the other part was I had never mourned the murder of my godfather, grand father, and great grandmother, all of which had died within less than six months apart of each other starting April 2009. I had ignored my train wreck of a life, deep sadness and abusive living situation by being so busy I couldn’t think.

But that is a bit more background than needed I suppose. Basically I went back to collage in 2014. Switching my major from Anthropology to English which I am still not sure about as I enjoy their studies equally. Book however, books were often a beacon of comfort and stabilizer in my life where most human beings had failed. Writing was a comfort and talent that I often hid from others, mostly because my parents had gone through my journals when I was 15 and then screamed at me about being delusional and crazy…again I digress. I did however win awards for writing and always, with the exception of once got A’s in English. So, I decided to follow where my talents lied, or so I had empirical evidence of where they were. I am a creature of almost stifling over analysis and thinking, it is just my nature. After applying for transfers and getting accepted for two of the three I went for, I chose the university further from my home, and that cost significantly less.

Let’s be honest I was disenchanted by the second semester and maybe it’s because I am a hardass but I was frustrated. I had never cared about the canonical works of so many dead whitemen and I figured that maybe I wouldn’t have to re-read such mediocre works as I did in high school but I did. And I fucking hated it.It became obvious for me while I was in a lit class where because it was a survey class of a specific time period their were some things we just had to cover, and I accepted that. What really grated me was that while my instructor was really great and facilitated wonderful conversations the people I was learning with, no offense, but full offense are boring and here’s why. We read Kate Chopin’s novella “The Awakening,” which is not a bad piece of work, but we spent almost 3 class periods of almost two hours rehashing this novel; it was followed by Zikala Sa’s “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” which was so long we only did part of it, and was very descriptive, as the author’s whole drive was to help people understand and humanize the experiences of residential era Native Americans, of which she was one.

That class ended early.

I was enraged to say the least, you see to me, this piece had so much more truth and rawness; it was an actual reality frankly I stick by that. I could not relate to Kate Chopin’s characters because at best in this story line I would have been some house Negro fondly recalled, and worst I would have been some faceless living mammy, watching a sad over privileged white lady drown herself. However i found it in myself to do critical analysis and discuss this person who I could not for the life of me find kinship to as her people would have murdered or bought mine. But I fucking did it, because I am not afraid of a challenge. These white people in my class could not even stretch themselves to get up the gumption to talk about “WOW I NEVER KNEW THIS HAPPENED.” So comfortable in their privilege and idea that their experiences are truly universal that they were unwilling and unable to try and reflect upon an experience outside of anything like their own. I had to do this in almost every Literature class, and every Philosophy class with the exception of one. Constantly I was stretched to my limits of comfortably, and still there is no one on this earth who could say i didn’t participate. I hyper participate, I can back to higher education to do this so I sure as shit wasn’t going to just laze through it

So for the next year and a half before I graduated this was my lot, to watch mediocre and hyper analyzings of the same repeated story lines and principles. I crammed and stuffed these into my brain choking down canon that ignore of glorified the destruction of my peoples. Furthermore because of this I had no room or time to pleasure read.

By the time I graduated with a less than great GPA, my mental health barely intact, and all the free time in the world, I had forgotten what I liked to read. Just as my return to academia had surely saved me from taking my own life it have severed something in me that has yet to return. The real joy sapped from just sitting and doing so simple regular ass reading. I still haven’t gotten it back and I desperately it.




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