This morning, I was officially released from my old degree and accepted into the new one. I’m a freshman again – with 12 years experience.
I live about half an hour from campus. The tram I took this morning arrived late and then got delayed even further, so I started worrying if I’d still make it in time. The closer I came to my destination, the more anxious I became and sensed a very strong urge to avoid the situation and just go home again. So I asked myself, “Why do you feel this way?” Time wasn’t the real problem here – after all, if I really would be late, the outcome wouldn’t be any different from the avoidance scenario. I quickly realized that I was projecting social anxiety onto the situation; I didn’t want to go because I had negative expectations for the outcome due to bad experiences in the past. I told myself to at least give it a try, and that avoiding the situation today would only make it worse down the road as the pressure for time would only increase towards the end of the month.
Ultimately, it was a rather quick procedure: with ten minutes to spare before closing, I arrived and, after a short wait, was called into the office. I handed in a statement written by the docent, the administrative secretary – who was friendly and unthreatening – made a photocopy of it and filled out a form which I signed, and thus a 12-year-long chapter of my life ended rather unceremoniously and a new one began.
What’s left of this period are a lot of ambiguous feelings and emotional scars. Looking back at the person who first started university in October 1999, I see someone who doesn’t have much in common anymore with who I am today except for a shared past. And as much as I wish my education had worked out better and at least somewhat resembled the vision I once had, erasing the years would do away with a lot of precious experiences or people I love. I am who I am for a reason, and that includes the failures and miseries – without them, I would not only be rather ignorant of what’s around me still, but equally clueless about myself.