When I arrived in January and disembarked, nothing felt new. If you’ve read the blog I wrote in December, you’ll remember that my life was stretched with the tension of finality (essays, exams, etc.). January was like a sunny morning to which I awoke after a terrible, restless sleep.
I’ve spent the past few weeks sitting still, with my feet dangling in the shallow end of the pool, watching, waiting, hesitant. What will 2017 be? What will I be? While I’ve been frantically seeking the ideal day planner and trying to restore some sense of routine to my life, I’ve also been itching with the awareness that this is the beginning of the end. My last semester. (Hopefully. I’m planning to pass all my courses.)
Since September I’ve been counting my blessings and evaluating my university experience as though it’s already over. It’s tempting to duck my head into my turtleneck and disappear into schoolwork, to keep moving until I’m through and out. But something entirely fortuitous has prevented me from following my instincts and doing so: somehow — surprisingly, to my egoistic and obstinate mind — I am still learning.
This is perhaps the most significant revelation I’ve had all year, and it’s glaringly obvious. My degree has always been teaching me that our questions will never end, that we will never know all the answers, and that, at the end of the day, we realize how clueless we are. All the same, it’s been a long, long time since I got lost in Carleton’s tunnels. I’m comfortable going to my professors’ office hours, and the process of writing an essay, though never smooth, is a familiar frenemy. It’s easy to become complacent, and I have.
There is no place for complacency in learning. There is no place for boredom, superiority, impatience. There is no place for comfort. I am guilty of all these things.
Luckily, the world has intervened. I’m taking a class in Humanities called “Science in the Modern World.” (Science? What is science?) I am learning Old English, a new-to-me language. My 18th Century Studies seminar is essentially an exercise in doing real, archival, academic research. This is not read-a-book-write-an-essay. It’s not stare-at-the-wall-and-think-really-hard. I must learn and engage with concepts I have never heard of before and do not understand. I have to develop new skills and new study habits.
This is uncomfortable.
Thank God for that. It would be a waste of five years if I’d left here believing myself to be educated, but not remembering my limitations, not having humility.
This is the beginning of a new, not last, semester. Before I graduate, I want to once more relish the twinge of anxiety that comes with realising just how much I do not know.
Paige Pinto (HUMS/English), has just published an article in Persuasions.
Learn more about Paige.
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