Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Classes I can't remember, grades I can't forget.

I've been looking into a local graduate program here, and looking into the admissions requirements has been a bit of a kick in the cooch.

First, staying in Montreal is my only real option. I could pay for an entire master's program here for the cost of one semester our of province. That's fucking malarkey.

Looking at the highs and lows of my university grades is something. Hit or miss really. My final university GPA was 3.19, but the start was rough. Going through my transcripts was actually upsetting. I didn't expect that. It's an actual record of a time in my life I barely remember. It's a cold record, which does not care for me or my problems. It's an official transcript.

This  next bit makes me laugh, because it shows the difference between hard-theory and classes where I could use a more creative approach to the work. A professor I thought the world of taught Feminist Thought which was heavy theory (Émile Durkheim and shit like that). I took her two introductory classes while also taking classes that involved more popular culture and the possibility of creative projects.

As you can see, the heavier theory classes (first two) didn't go down so well. Pop culture stuff went great though!

The start of university was rough, but eventually things got better as I ran from Human Relations and settled into Women's Studies.

What's difficult to look back on, is the grades, failures and class suspensions during the first year out of high school. In Quebec we have a CEGEP program, which is like a pre-univeristy college. We have one year less of high school than other places. Instead, it goes high school, then cegep/college, then university. Or, high school, technical college/cegep.

First, I left high school and went into Liberal Arts. This was a huge mistake. I didn't even know what Liberal Arts really was. I took the title of the program literally (problem #1), and was surrounded by rich private school kids that didn't even speak the same language as me (not literally). It was so alien.

Shit then hit the fan with a boy I was in an unhealthy relationship with. I changed school, went into Social Studies for a semester, did terribly, felt worse, and then headed back to my original school, where I bounced around the creative arts until I graduated with a Arts & Culture degree.

Things were such a mess. I was in so much pain. I was manic. It's just hard to look back on.

This "rough patch" lasted throughout my college life. Roughly 3 years. University continued that, but I was on a slow incline. My time in graphic design followed that (I graduated in 2011) and the last few years have been the best I've had in the last decade. 

It really bums me out that these grades follow me around. As they do anyone else who had an accident, survives a trauma or has some type of mental break. Registrars don't give a fuck. 

I know I shouldn't settle on this. I'm trying not to fixate on the image and the low numbers. I know that eventually, I was able to stand back up and move along, but it's so hard. It's like remembering a wound. It's a type of ghost-limb syndrome. A muscle memory for pain. A general sense of uneasiness and a heat in the chest. 

Things got better. I eventually got better. I have more good days now.

I was able to graduate from university. This is a privilege. This is something I earned. That I paid for. That I accomplished. That's not nothing.

I did okay. Excluding chemistry of course - but don't expect too much from me. I'm in the fucking arts.

What I'm feeling isn't fear. I thought maybe it might be, since I'm looking at grad school now, and that means re-learning an academic language. It means more work. It means academic texts. It means papers. It means a thesis. It means work and school. It means long hours. But things are different. I have methods of coping now. I have a support system. I'm able to better manage my expectations, and don't overly commit to things. I know how to say no. I can drop out. I can work less. I can move things around. I don't feel the same pressure now, maybe because I don't feel forced into it. 

For a long time, I was in school as to be "doing something." I felt like for as long as I was in school, I wasn't actively ruining my life. It was a pause on decisions. It was a pause on the big moves expected of your 20's.

What I feel now, when looking at these transcripts is yes, some sadness. But I also feel empathy for myself, then. I still feel the twinge in my chest. It hurts. It's the reverberation of a devastation. It's similar to that feeling you have when you walk away from an upsetting documentary, only it's evoked by your own memory. 

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