I scratched the day off with permanent marker.
The first day of the first of the dreaded fifteen weeks.
I had them all circled out. It would be torture, but I would make this private habit a part of my daily ritual. I would survive in spite of the odds deliberately chosen for me. I would survive in the midst of everything—even a part time job.
It was all wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be a battle. It was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be practice. A chance to do grown-up things, like worry about paying bills, wrestling for a favorite parking space and eating sensible food because junk food just wouldn’t cut it anymore.
Yes, those sorts of wonderful things.
But somehow, I didn’t like it at all. I knew something was wrong when I’d counted out the weeks—and circled the days.
It would be torture.
The first week was supposed to be the easiest. Not too much to start off, just enough to get my feet wet. By the time the rest of the reality came crashing in, I should be zombified enough that I wouldn’t care.
But I did.
The first week was virtually painless. It hurt to roll out of bed plant my bare feet on cold, wooden floors as I shuffled to the bathroom. It hurt because my feet ached from standing in lines that weren’t mine. The warm water in the shower would bring some life back into them and then I’d prepare myself for the day.
The second week came faster than the first. I also survived that one.
The third week.
Weeks flashed by.
I vaguely recalled throwing up in the toilet—courtesy of a late night and then the passing stomach bug. I spilled coffee on my favorite shirt and ruined it at the Laundromat. I learned to eat soup out of a can without bothering about a bowl. I brushed my teeth with my eyes closed.
There was nothing sensible about this—I couldn’t understand why I continued on.
The tenth week was more mind-numbing than the others to date. I was bored out of my mind and exhausted beyond comprehension. I couldn’t make my body function the way I wanted to.
I felt old.
I felt young.
I felt very strange.
There were project assignments due, overtime at work and some sort of family crisis when the weekend dared come around. I never knew what to expect beyond a weekly dose of misery.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
It shouldn’t have been.
But there were still five weeks left.
My sanity trickled away.
Eleven and twelve were numbers it seemed, rather than titles for the following two weeks. When I realized there were three left, I rejoiced with all the energy I could spare.
It wasn’t much at all.
But I was happy.
It meant the end was near.
So close that I could taste it.
So I dreamed.
I saw the dozens of things I would do when those weeks were over. I made lists of the things I would do.
And when the fifteenth week passed? I survived. I was no worse for the wear in terms of when I’d started. Older, yes, aged in more ways than necessary, yes, but I’d just lost three months.
What for? What had it all been for? What I had done? Why?
The answer was simple—and almost too easy. But no one had thought to pay the price I did.
I am a college student.
Life is not fun and games for me. I spend more time sleeping because it is the luxury I crave and when I am dreaming, I don’t have to pretend.
The fifteen weeks of each semester takes something out of me every time. I give everything I can, because I want to do my best.
Don’t judge me with those raised eyebrows.
I’m perfectly imperfect—and I did pull a three A’s and three B’s on that scorecard. It means I’ll get that scholarship. It means I have a chance at being a pharmacist at the corner drugstore. That I'll do what I love and make a living from it.
It means, maybe, that it was all worth it. That I can make something of myself
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