Forgive & Forget

November 4th, 2010 by admin | Print Forgive & Forget

Prompt:  Something you have to forgive yourself for.

Ironically, my answer for this prompt and my friend Sonja’s answer are almost the same.  Like her, I regret my decisions and attitude during certain years of my college career, specifically my first and second year.

I came to college after having had a bad experience with high school.  Pre-high school, I actually enjoyed school and was quite an overachiever.  I loved learning and was a stereotypical nerd.  I had gone to private schools all my life, but when I hit high school, I went to the local public school.  It felt like taking a step backwards into the dark ages.  The work we were doing was work I had done three or even four years prior.  The students didn’t give a whit about their work.  The teachers acted as if my after-class questions were a burden rather than a joy.  The three years I spent in high school (I graduated a year early) very nearly crushed my love of learning. Unfortunately, this new anti-school attitude of mine overflowed into my first few years at a college where having a passion for your subject is absolutely, positively necessary for success.

Witness the scariness that was my desk during my second year.

When I got to Hampshire, I really didn’t want to be in school.  I had taken a year off and worked in retail, and had rented my own apartment in a city five hours away from my family.  I felt like an “adult” (oh how wrong I was) and going back to “school” felt like a massive step backwards.  The problem was that I kept associating college with “school”, when really, it was more like a meeting of minds. In my stubbornness, I somehow missed that, and I resisted my professors with all my might.  I didn’t like going to class, I did half-assed work, and generally cared more about everything else in my life than about my academic success.

This, predictably, bit me in the ass. I managed to almost flunk out of a college that doesn’t even have grades!  When classes got too “annoying”, I’d simply stop attending.  At the time I felt I was “showing the man how I felt”, but in reality, I was just being an uppity little shit, and not in a good way.  I barely passed my first year of college, and I struggled through the second.  I recovered somewhat during my third year by changing majors to something non-academic (switched from East Asian Studies to Documentary Filmmaking), but the core problem was still there: I didn’t really want to be in school.

So, I took myself out of college.  It was the best thing I could have done for my academic career, ironically.

I originally planned to take a year on medical leave, citing my bipolar disorder as the cause.  I was approved for the leave, and I planned on living in an apartment in the area, doing some internships to help bolster my academic record, which was pretty pathetic at the time.

I made it about a month before I desperately wanted to be back in “school”. I spent pretty much all my non-internship time (I worked two part time internships) visiting friends on campus, and I slept in my boyfriend’s dorm room at least three nights a week.  I talked to my parents and we decided that it was better for me to go back to college earlier than I had planned, and to take an extra semester by returning in the spring.  The next few months until I returned served to show me just how much I missed being in college, how much I needed the intellectual stimulation of being in classes, of having great discussions with my fellow students.  Being away from school made me realize how much I actually loved it. When I returned to college, I did some of the best work of my entire college career and gained the respect of some of the college’s best professors, and I attribute that to my newfound fervor to actually use the skills I had forgotten I had.

Those first two years have haunted me for a long time.  I feel like I pissed away my family’s money by having them pay to send me to a place I wasn’t really ready for yet.  I was older than most of my peers when I arrived at Hampshire, but my belief that I was thus also wiser was a false one.  My better-than-thou attitude and my poor academic behavior during those first years are things that haunted me for a long time, and while I regret them, I think it’s also time to recognize that there’s not really much that I could have done. I was too sure of myself to see that I was, in fact, not yet ready, and I would have blown off anyone who told me otherwise.  It was a realization that I had to come to on my own, and I think it’s time to forgive myself for not coming to it sooner.



  1. We do diverge a bit – I regret the social decisions and mistakes I made in college. The fact that I wasn’t academically successful is totally irrelevant to me, even though that was a nightmare in and of itself. In that sense, pure survival was the goal – and I finished. But I certainly could have more friends now if I’d made different decisions then, whereas I’d have the diploma no matter what. 😛

    • admin

      For me, I’ve always regretted not taking full advantage of what Hampshire had to offer until so late in my college career. It was really the perfect place for me, but I was too blind to see that until it was almost too late. Socially I did fine, but I feel that I could have done so much more, academically.

  2. Kristen

    I’ve been writing a bit of truths in my bedtime journal and it’s funny because this is almost exactly what I wrote. I loved school as a kid, but high school made it so unfun for me that I eventually opted for my GED and went to community college instead during my junior year. I don’t regret that one bit. But when I finally got to Smith, I squandered so much of my first year and half of my second year. I regret that so much and it was the first time I realized that there aren’t any do-overs. The only other thing I majorly regret was that I got out of music shortly after I began high school. I loved playing and writing music and within a year, I could barely read a note. I miss it now.