I am not at college by default.
I used to be, on account of being a middle-class USian, but then I took my leave and thought long and hard about returning to this college, returning to any college, before deciding that yes, I would finish a degree. At that point, it was a pragmatic decision: I didn't want to be held back in the future by a lack of B.A. and I knew there would not be an easier time than now to get it.
Sometimes I wonder whether I'm not still in college just to improve my occupational outlook. But not that often. Because in between leaving and returning to this college, I found my major and collided with some disciplines that at times feel physically necessary to my being. (Wrapped in women's studies, I sleep deeply; anthropology feeds me when I am hungry...)
Pieces come together—gorgeous connections happen between political philosophy and culture theory, or introductory theology and history of astronomy. I read articles from academic journals when I want to know more about something, and I understand them and enjoy them, sometimes unnaturally so. I am learning the words and ways of thinking that allow me to understand and articulate and engage what is urgent to me. I get to read and listen and synthesize until I think I can't anymore, and I get to talk seriously to people my age about what we agree must be talked about.
I get tired, of course. But then there are nights like tonight where an idea gets whirling in my head, and I know how to explain it and I'm thinking of this quotation in that essay and how I just saw the perfect illustration and how it ties in with so-and-so's dialectic etc. etc. and my skull is boiling with excitement that wouldn't make sense to most people, but people care here, they care that much about what we are all doing and I understand and there's so much more to understand if only there will be enough time awake. And then I just knowknowknow that I am in the right place, and I am so lucky.