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An Absurd Temptation

By Una Ada, July 07, 2018

It’s been increasingly difficult to describe my emotions in words as they slowly become more and more nuanced. A significant contributor to this is that I’ve never really tried to express myself as I actually feel rather than a filtered form of myself, which probably influenced the near uselessness of the short while I had a therapist a while back. It’s always much easier to build on a notion that someone already has, like an archetype, than to develop a full description from scratch, and I’ve always bought into this temptation. However, over time I have begun to find a method of describing myself that to some extent feels right. This is still, as most things, built on ideas with which I’d assume others would already be familiar.

There’s a lot of literature and discussion about this idea of consciousness as some sort of observer of the actions of the self, like there are parts of the mind that are actively involved in life and others that are merely watching. I feel for this idea insofar as I relate to the latter in an extreme. I never feel as if there is any part of me that is the “pilot” and that “I” am merely an observer of reality as it plays out. It’s as if the world is something that happens to me rather than something in which I partake. Of course, the exact way this manifests philosophically for me is very much influenced by the world I do live in, particularly with regards to the medium of observation. Traditionally I’ve been quite wary of viewing myself as some protagonist in a book as tempting as that may be. The issue with such an outlook is that it ignores the wills of others and that is still something I refuse to compromise on in my worldview. However, the idea of myself in the context of a story still remains, just that the story is not one of any person in particular but that of the progression of time itself, something that would be terrible in the creation of a story as it is so vague and unorganized no audience would ever willingly subject themselves to it, but the absurdity of reality is that we do not have that choice.

Regardless of the exact center of the narrative, life has arcs, episodes if you will. Often many such segmentations of time overlap, but nonetheless the structure remains. Relationships begin and end, you find and quit jobs, seasons come and go, we seek out structure in time. This then begins the core of the issue with my mood.

College was narratively rough for me. In high school I had taken advantage of a system by which I could take college courses not offered by the school at a nearby university. I took a few such classes, met a few people, establishes a mental map of the campus and its relation to the life I already had established. With the end of high school there would normally be a severe break in the narrative of life. High school is like a series arc, there are seasons and plots within it but it represents a whole framing of life that ends with graduation. While I had applied at a few other universities, in the end the only one at which I was accepted was that same college that I had already woven into a past narrative of my life. As such there was no break in my life between high school and college, but a short transitional period. Financial aid covered my tuition but wasn’t enough to cover room and board, therefore I remained at my parents’ house with the twenty minute commute I had already lived with for those few classes in high school. The end of this college age was equally unclean. Due to my lack of motivation to engage with a lot of the activities required of me, I ended up failing out of college after three semesters. I’d decided that I would just let this happen rather than appeal, I’d moved out to an apartment just across from campus for that third semester and figured I could use some time off there to get myself together. This ended up being the opposite of how things played out and I ended up back at my parents’. Needing a break from living with them I ended up filing an appeal and returning for another semester, but having not really figured my shit out I failed out once again.

This framing arc of my life being a complete mess is something that would in theory be completely bearable. The theory breaks down when this arc is put in the broader context: nothing happened after it. I’ve just been managing to survive since then, slowly growing away from everyone I knew as life just sort of moves on without me. I’ve had places to stay, I’ve had food to eat, I’ve managed to survive. Most recently, I found my way to living nearby another college (one that I’d applied to but was waitlisted not once but twice). In the end this is nothing more than a “I fucked up and now there’s salt in the wounds” sort of situation, but mocking my own perspective as simple and even typical does nothing to alleviate the fact that I must still live it.

Or must I?

The phrasing “fail out” is a bit of a simplification of what actually happens. In both financial aid and registration there is an idea of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), the ideas are often synonymous between the two systems but just as often have minor differences. In the case that these are not of the same standard, there is a possibility that one qualifies to receive federal aid but not to remain in attendance. I’m not sure this is an applicable situation; however, what is applicable is the way this idea is handled when you no longer meet the requirements for SAP: in the eyes of student aid you must now find some way of paying tuition yourself, in the eyes of registration you are no longer allowed to attend classes. Ignoring the former as there are many potential solutions there, the latter presents a massive problem. Academic suspension can be appealed, but if you appeal it and are then returned to it as I have there is a more severe roadblock in that you must wait two years before reapplying for attendance. Reapplying is a key point here, this is about going back to the same university. Which then brings me to another point… is it possible to transfer to another university while technically on academic suspension?

This is the absurd temptation that taunts me, there’s an admissions office to an R1 university within walking distance of me. But what can I do? After five years they’ll scrub any failing grades from your transcript and I’d assume this would also apply to suspensions, but I don’t want to wait another four and a half years to get back to something that I don’t even really enjoy. Undergraduate school sucks ass, it’s like High School++, though it is still a requirement to get to graduate school which I would be currently attending had I not went and failed out. What would I even have to do to get them to overlook all these glaring issues on my record? I don’t know, but that would be something to discuss with an admission (or transfer?) office. And so the path forward becomes this: go and beg for a way in, perhaps not even a way in here but one that could be used elsewhere as well.