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September Surrender: Day 12

What I’m Letting Go: Dead Weight

Sometimes I wonder what I even went to college for. It was just the natural progression that one does after high school, but what did I even get out of it? Debt, a piece of paper that I have no idea where it is, and a whole lot of cringey stories to tell. Also arthritis in my knees. Whatever. I suppose I’m glad I had the college experience and I met some of the world’s most incredible people, but I still wonder what, if anything, I really got out of my schooling.

I was hoping for four years of fun before I had to enter the real world. I never actually wanted to do the thing that put me there in the first place, which was fencing. I had a partial scholarship which got bumped up to fifty-one percent in my senior year. All my books were paid for. I traveled all around the country for free. Any medical need I had was taken care of, even a year after I graduated. But I just didn’t wanna. I complained literally every time I had to practice. I was insufferable when I had to wake up for weight practice at 7:30AM twice a week. If there was anywhere else I could be instead of exerting a little bit of energy so I could continue my education, I would have done it.

But this is such an unattractive quality to have. I don’t need to complain about things I’m obligated to do. I just need to do them. I can “not wanna” all I want, it doesn’t matter. I was getting up at the asscrack of dawn to drive to weights, but so what? I literally wake up in the middle of the night now for my job. And you wanna know something? All my fencing practices never turned out as bad as I’d ever make it. In fact, most of the time, my teammates and I had a pretty good time. So I suppose letting go of all this dread I build up while living in the anticipation can only do me good. That way, I may actually find something I like to do so I can stick around long enough to give it an honest shot. Worth a try.

What I’ve Discovered: Cutting it Down

In my time as a film student, I was able to assist on seven films. That’s a low number considering how many my classmates were able to work on. But that pesky fencing obligation always took over. Still, I was able to edit four films and do a bunch of other continuity jobs and script supervising. The school really encouraged students to participate in student films, and I’m glad I got to do so, even if it was just a scant few over a four year period.

One of my friends allowed me to edit the movie she directed. There was no real formality to it, though. She just kind of let me do what I wanted. But the truth is, I didn’t really “get” the movie. I wasn’t sure what she was trying to say with it. It was weird to say the least. Dark humor. I felt very much on the outside of it. Still, I put together what I thought was a decent and storytelling cut of the film. But the day before it was to be shown, she and the director of photography put together an entirely new edit that was far and away from my vision. He even gave himself an editing credit before my name. To say I was bummed was an understatement. It just all felt weirdly underhanded and disorganized. But then again, I wasn’t all that into it to begin with.

When it comes to art creation in this matter, I’ve found it’s best to be all-in from the jump start, so all your efforts and trials don’t just fall by the wayside. They actually will mean something if all your trying comes from a place of passion. I never really found that, I’ve discovered. Which is unfortunate, considering film was the whole reason I was at school in the first place. I suppose if I had more time to dedicate to the craft, I could have been a goofy film major too. Instead I was just a regular old student athlete. Not for lack of trying, though.

What I Hope to Find: Being a Part of a Passion

The first week of freshman year, we had a sort of “job fair” that showed off all the activities students could do on campus. I was immediately drawn to NSTV, or Northwestern Sketch Television, ping-ponging off SCTV, or Second City, right down the road in Chicago. We had watched a clip from last year’s NSTV program and I remember laughing my ass off. I had this weird little 18-year-old sense of hope that I too could create greatness one day. Northwestern also had an improv troupe, something I always wanted to try. Opportunity was right at my fingertips, and I had all the freedom in the world to chase it.

Unfortunately, all that came crashing down when I met with the students running the programs, and told me they don’t accept student athletes, because their priorities were elsewhere with the school. I was heartbroken. I knew I was there to fence, but it wasn’t the passion that lived in my heart. I was there to create, not ruin my knees over the next four years.

It feels like that was the last time I really wanted something. The last time I had a dream, only for it to be properly crushed. I did end up taking improv classes years out of college, but that never guaranteed me a spot on a troupe. I had a chance and it was dashed. I know it seems I’m putting a lot of weight into something I never actually had, but I hope the time comes again when I find something that deserves my attention like that. Something that ignites my passion with no one to tell me no. And no one can tell me I never tried either, even if was only in a simulated life experience like college.

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