The Confession | The College Dropout
"Told 'em I finished school, and I started my own business
They say, 'Oh, you graduated?'
Nah, I decided I was finished." -Kanye West, School Spirit
Sometimes I feel a tinge of sadness when I reminisce on my short time in college at State. Though I enjoyed it there and met many different personalities to boot, I often feel that somehow, my experiences at State weren't "valid." Could it possibly be because I traded my student life for a life of motherhood and domesticity? Perhaps. Could it be because once I left, I tried very hard to pretend that I didn't want to be there to begin with? That's possible. OR could it be that I felt the stories I heard from my friends who graduated held more merit simply because they actually graduated? That could be it. In fact, all of these are pieces to the truth. Others had "lived the life" to the finish line and had the right to discuss their times there with pride filled chests, arousing my undivided attention each time they called to talk about the good old days. And as much as I loved to listen to those stories, I was jealous that my participation in those days was minimal to none.
I felt like things that happened at said university from 2003-2007 could be told without even a hint of my voice or my presence. See how easy it was for my friends to talk about their time there with barely a mention of my short-lived tenure there? My friendship was easily replaced by the friendships of others, friends we all mutually shared with each other. For some reason unknown to me, it was so easy for my part of the story to be erased, disposed of, and discarded as if I never existed there. As if I had never been a freshman girl who stayed in Room 222 of one all girls' freshman dorm. As if I had become a ghost of those experiences that floated in and floated out of people's memories, depending on who was doing the recounting. The girl from Room 222 sometimes had a name, and sometimes she didn't. I guess it depends on what friend was doing the sharing. But if I didn't fit into anyone's stories, what does that say about mine? There's rarely a time when my friends or family ask me much about my time there. Though I was rather social and was quite involved in school activities, I was the most easily forgotten. And that was so unfortunate to me. I thought I had met some pretty cool individuals at the time. But since Facebook and Myspace had not yet blown up on campus at the time of my arrival or departure, I couldn't really think of a way to consistently keep up with anyone. I'm sure I wrote my number down more than a few times before I broke camp.
So what would become of those who never called? Would they not think of me anymore? Would they remember that I was even once a student there? Would they remember that I was the "dorm president of that freshman girls' hall once upon a time? Would they remember me from that group that helped coordinate campus activities and being the pusher girl for dear old Mr. G (they used to say "poor girl" underneath their breaths when they saw me walking alongside him on campus during work hours). Would they remember anything about me at all? Because I remembered so much about them.
I listened for hours as people pulled back their layers for the first time and privately, every time thereafter. We bonded over stories and experiences like none I had ever heard before. I kept their stories and their struggles near and dear to my heart, as if knowing them connected me spiritually to each of them. And because I rarely shared much of myself other than my time and my shoulder, I wondered if my presence was lost on them. You know, there's a noun for my friends that went to State and graduated. They are called alumni. And there's a noun for people like myself-- the dropout. Does that null and void my college experience there? I was not invisible. I was there. My presence had to have meant something to someone back then. But each and every time I've heard the word dropout over the last 11 years, I swear I've wanted to choke back tears as I think about the "thing" I couldn't get right the first time around.