Am I Remembering This Right?

This past week we lost another one of our titan professors from our college days.  He was a remarkable man and if you want to understand him a little better, head over to my friend Amy's amazing blog here and read a little something about his heart and his impact on his students.  The aftermath of that loss and the grief process has involved a great memorial page for him on Facebook where all of us from over the years have shared our favorite memories of him.  We are all spread out all over the globe.  Seeing all of those stories has brought all sorts of stuff to the surface about those formative years and where we all were at that time.  Needless to say, some cool (albeit painful) dialogues have begun this week as a result.

 College was such a bizarre animal for my husband and I.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most selfish times in any one's life.  It was a time of figuring out who we were, wallowing in all of that emotional crap of "self" and how the world affected us personally, blah, blah, blah.  Especially in a theatre program.  We were all train wrecks (ALL OF US) that never felt like enough.   The perception that we had of each other ("She so has it together.  Just perfect.", "He totally has the world by a string", "She is the favorite", "He is so ridiculously talented") was so off base in so many ways and we all were looking through our own angst ridden filters.  

It was a time of absolute self loathing for me personally.  Seriously, I don't think I could've hated myself any more than I did then.  My body shame, my lack of talent, my apathy about the nuts and bolts of education, my inability to have deeper friendships with women, my terrible judgement about romantic relationships, my incessant need to be wanted and liked and belong somewhere.  I don't ever remember feeling proud of something at that time, just stressed, always behind the eight ball and inadequate.  When I think back, we were all there.   We were all in the same place of self loathing and it colored so much of that time.  

Forever the optimist, I also have some warm fuzzies of that time now that I have moved out of my own way.  I asked my husband last night if I was just making all of this up or if he agreed with the memories.  He agreed, but he also has the benefit of distance.  What actually happened there in that armpit of a city in the Midwest (in spite of our best efforts to muck it all up) was magical.  There was a collection of souls there that were seeking something more than themselves.  There were educators there that have integrity the likes of which I haven't seen since.  There were professionals that held students to higher standards and taught them to actually critically think and ask questions and get out of the damn way.  And now that there is some distance, we really did bring the best out in each other- supportive, accountable, and pushing each other to bring our best selves.  

If you had asked me that at the time, I would've denied it, rolled my eyes, and talked about what a viper pit it was.  But that was my 22 year old self.  My 40 year old self is a little more forgiving and way wiser (eye roll).  I just don't want to hold on to the bad.  I don't want to hold onto the junk that we all had.  It's exhausting.  I want to move forward and forgive all of the perceived slights and forgive myself for not being fully evolved yet to make room for the best memories of that time.  I want to cling tightly to the adult relationships that I have as a result of those four years and cherish them in every way I can.  Those people are still inspiring and bringing out the best in me.  I am just able to fully appreciate them now.

Saturday night at 10 PM EST, wherever on the planet we all are, we will all raise a glass of something wonderful and toast our beloved mentor and fearless professor, Dr. Dudley Thomas.  I will also be whispering a toast to all of the beautiful souls that have come into my life as a result of that time and thanking my lucky stars that I have been able to know them.  They helped shape who I am today, are forever a part of my heart, and I am so fortunate they are a part of my life. 

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