Do I Dare?

Do I Dare?

Tomorrow, I graduate from college. 16 years of school. 4 years of hard work, and sweat, and tears, and stress, and wanting to quit numerous times…

“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky”

This is the end. I know it won’t hit me until autumn, when I should be buying school supplies, and ordering books. For the first time in 16 years, I won’t need to buy pencils, and notebooks, and backpacks.

“Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…”

Despite all of the bad, I loved school. I loved “being an English major.” I loved learning new things. I loved the race against time to get a project or a paper turned in.

“In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.”

Tonight was my last class. My favorite professor made my classmates clap for me multiple times, probably to make up for the fact that he can’t make it to graduation (and that he made me come to class from 6-8 on the night before graduation).

“There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,”

Tomorrow, I’ll walk across a stage (number 448 in the school of arts, humanities, and social sciences alone). This is the end.

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

On this, the eve of entering the “real world,” lines from my favorite poem keep running through my mind.

“And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?'”

There are things I’ve read in college that I probably would not have read otherwise. T.S. Eliot is a big one. I read Eliot in high school but wasn’t impressed. I remember studying “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and not understanding it (or just not caring). 

“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

In college? Eliot was enlightening. I read “Prufrock” again every couple months, and every single time I read it, I see something in myself that I need to work on. If I’d left high school and not gone on to pursue an English degree, I would probably never have read Eliot again. I would think a little differently than I do now, and I would be a little more passive. There are steps I wouldn’t have taken and chances I would’ve ignored.

“For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;”

“Prufrock” is all about passivity.

“I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?”

Passivity is a problem I see all around me. It’s a problem that is often attributed to my generation – to millennials. However, Eliot saw this same problem in his own generation, almost 100 years ago! He saw people letting life pass them by, rather than taking life by the horns. He saw people who measured out their lives in… coffee spoons? What a small and insignificant thing to measure your life by.

“And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.”

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” is a well-known line. I see it in cute little prints and coffee shop chalkboards, and I always smile to myself, because I know when Eliot wrote it, he meant it as a bad thing. This is why we should not take quotes out of context, people. 

“I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.”

In the poem, Eliot’s character, J. Alfred Prufrock becomes so passive, that he begins to question his ability to make even the smallest decisions. At the beginning of the poem, he’s alive. He’s even thinking about daring to do something as big as disturb the universe. At the end of the poem, he’s questioning whether he even dares to eat a peach.

“Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,”

One thing I learned in college is how to step out of my comfort zone. In college, I had to put myself out there if I wanted to meet anyone. Another way I jumped out of my comfort zone? Living abroad for over 5 months. I learned to conquer fears I didn’t even know I had. 

“And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!”

Another thing I really struggled with during college was anxiety. College is all stress, all the time. The more stressed I became, the more anxious I became. There were times I was too afraid of the future to sleep. Thanks to Jesus, and thanks to my Mama encouraging me when I genuinely wanted to quit school, I overcame my anxiety.

“I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

As I leave school and enter the “real world,” I want to be unafraid of taking chances. I want to make good decisions without always second guessing myself. I want to follow my dreams of writing fiction and being published, and I want to continue to do everything I can for the Kingdom. 

“Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.”

Here’s to the class of 2016. Here’s to following our dreams without fear. Here’s to making our mark on the world! 

xoxo,

Carrie

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The beginning of the end (or me starting to freak out and get nostalgic because I graduate in 12 days!)

Fun fact: I just wrote an entire blog post. Then it disappeared. What?! Where did it go? Sometimes I love the internet and sometimes I hate it. I keep checking, like, maybe it will have magically reappeared, but no. Ok, cool. Hopefully this isn’t indicative of how my week will go. Now for recreating said post…

Today I picked up my graduation regalia. It does not seem real that this cap and gown and sash and tassel are really mine. I haven’t been here long enough. This can’t be right. I only graduated high school… last year? Right? There’s no way it could’ve been four years ago. I’ve gone back to school every fall for the last 16 years. This year, I won’t.

I’m currently sitting by the Millersville pond, my favorite spot on campus. It’s a morning like a thousand other mornings I’ve had over the last four years. I’m pretending to read a book for my Drama class tonight, but I’m secretly letting myself be distracted by the swans, the ducks, and the squirrels (and the “TURTLES,” which the annoying girl down the bank from me keeps screaming every time she supposedly sees one).

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The Pond, complete with the school swans, Miller and S’Ville

As I sat here, reading my book, I realized this book of Eugene O’Neill plays is the last book I need to read before graduation. This is the final one. What?! Since I began my studies, I’ve read many books similar to this one. (And sometimes Shmooped or Sparknoted many books similar to this one.) They’re books that are interesting and literary and “part of the canon,” but also books I’d just as soon trade for a book of my own choosing. Too many times to count, I have whined, “Plays are meant to be watched, not read.” Today, I don’t want this book to end. I want time to move just a little bit slower so I don’t have to think about this season of my life being over.

I’m reading the book for my last Drama class, with my favorite professor, Dr. Carballo. Tonight is the last night that I’ll just get to sit, occasionally add some input, listen to him lecture, and be blown away by how intelligent he is, and how he seems to have 90% of the books in this world stashed away in the library that is his brain.

I was absolutely terrified to take a class with Dr. Carballo in the second semester of my sophomore year. He was the gatekeeper. You have to take Comparative Literature to get into the upper level literature courses, and at that point, he was the only professor teaching that class. I’d only heard bad stories about Carballo… throwing students out of class for going to the restroom, yelling at people for sneaking a snack during class, even supposedly losing his temper at someone for reaching for a paper rather than letting him hand it to her. Sadly, I never got to see these supposed displays of anger.

I did get to see a professor who expected much from his students, and gave them knowledge, and insight in return. I got to see a professor who demanded respect, and gave respect in return. I got to know Carballo on a personal level, and I love him. In fact, his friendship is probably the most important friendship I’ve acquired here at Millersville. Carballo complimenting me on a paper I wrote, or giving me an A on an essay exam, or writing me a letter of recommendation means more to me than any other professor or peer doing the same thing.

Dr. Carballo is retiring after this semester. I feel so sorry for future Millersville English majors, who will miss out on his wit and wisdom, but it also feels right that his retirement and my graduation coincide. I am glad he won’t be here teaching if I won’t be here to listen to him.

Tonight is my last class with my favorite professor. It’s my first “last class” of the semester. The beginning of the end. This is my last week of classes. Next week is my very last finals week.

I’m sad, I’m happy, I’m nostalgic, I’m excited, I’m stressed, I’m emotional, and I’m so ready to see what comes next (in essence, ALL THE FEELS). Here’s to the beginning of the end, and to embracing the future!

What I’m listening to today:

xoxo,

Carrie