By: Max Bruns ~Advertising Manager~
Dear college, this is an open letter of acknowledgement that stands to serve at least three purposes. One, it is an open admittance that I probably have made and probably will make too many mistakes to be considered excusable during my four years with you. Two, it is an entreaty for you to excuse me, knowing fully well that you will because you know what I am going through, but that the request for the excusals is the vitally important part. And three, it is a reminder to myself of why I am staying with you, even though I am making all of these mistakes and keep having to ask to be excused.
In my heart of hearts, I am not cut out for this world. Those of you who know me at face value are familiar with a certain quality of lightness, perhaps a tangible sort of joy, or at least contentment in the form of smile and the outburst of song. Those of you who know me on a deeper level may only know me by these things, too, and that’s OK. They’re not lies. I am very joyous and content and smiley about my particular situation. I love me, I love my friends and family, I love my opportunity and I am grateful for the things I have both earned and sometimes just been given, as arrogant as that sounds.
But in my heart of hearts I have cultivated a sort of calm, calculated, removed rage, resentment and anguish over many years. For those among us who will never have what they deserve because of who they are. For the fact that we can’t live with ourselves because we hate each other too much. For hate itself. Against the machine that I have to work for in order to have an education and a career and a house, a machine that perpetuates a system of violence against otherized bodies. A machine that creates and then sustains hegemony, cloaked in a society that pretends to value the individual.
Much of the time, in my heart of hearts, there is only nothingness, reaped from the cultivation about which I just spoke. This may seem paradoxical. You can’t reap nothingness from a cultivated soul, you might be thinking to yourself. But I assure you that you can. Allowing rage and resentment and anguish to fester often leaves me with nothingness, and that is how I feel.
So, why do I make so many mistakes? Why do I miss trivial deadlines for clubs and classes? Why do I have to ask for extensions from professors and write apologetic letters to bosses? It is because of who I am in my heart of hearts. It is because sometimes, I am so horribly overwhelmed by the pains and sorrows that I feel for this world, the pains and sorrows that I cultivate, that I simply stop everything. My life falls by the wayside and I make lots of mistakes. Miss lots of deadlines. Have to ask for lots of extensions.
As I said, in this letter I am also begging you to excuse me for these mistakes. And I know that you will, because life is difficult and I am far from the only one to need a little mercy when the going gets hard. But making the entreaty is the important part, because it shows that I have the ability to recognize that I have made mistakes and that I really don’t deserve as much grace as I am being given. I hope it also shows some humility, because I really can’t do this by myself and your grace is the grace that I need to keep going.
Finally, the reminder. Why the cycle of being overwhelmed, of making mistakes, of asking to be excused, every day (or so) for four years? Well, it’s because of the cycle itself.
I am in college because of the rage, resentment and anguish that I have been cultivating. It is my dream that someday, I will contribute to reversing the machines and systems around us that allow hate, otherization, degradation, war and violence to exist. I know these dreams are pipish, but I have them and that is why I am here. I think college is a stepping stone on the way to fulfilling them and so this is the cycle I go through.
To clarify, “college,” the body of individuals that grants me so much grace and mercy, refers to professors, to staff, to my parents and my friends and my family. It refers to my residents, for whom I am eternally grateful. It refers to my bosses and the people whom I work with in my various clubs.
And finally, it refers to everyone, because the phenomenon that I just described is absolutely not unique. If you are part of the human race, you are tapping in to the cycle that I just described every day. Maybe I feel it worse than others, maybe not as bad, but we are all part of it, and we need to remember one thing: everyone deserves grace.
Everyone deserves forgiveness, everyone deserves to be excused every once in a while.