The 20s are all about surviving your most difficult days. It is a real wonder how we make it through some of the things that we endure. Every single day we are challenged by obstacles, tasks, and people. There's so much to do and so little time to do it. Sometimes it seems like the world asks too much of us. People want or need to much of us. We make mistakes; we say the wrong things; and we fail. We fall. We lose. We break down. But that's the way the world works, you survive. You do what you have to to be okay. You do just enough to make it through. You get shipwrecked but eventually someone saves you or you save yourself.

"Courage, dear heart" - C.S. Lewis
One of my all-time favorite icebreaker questions is "if you were on a desert island what three items could you not live without?" People are always surprised my answer because it's not what you usually expect. Often times people say quite superficial things or they go to the extremes of what would be necessary for survival.  If you give them a couple minutes to really think about it their answers can be really profound. The question is not asking what are the most important things to you but rather what do you need to live. I answer a DSLR camera, a black pen, and a pad of college-ruled legal paper. If I was shipwrecked on a desert island I would do what I always do, document my experience there. You see in order for me to live and I mean really be alive, I need to express myself. I have to have the means and the medium to do so effectively. It is what makes me ... well me, you know? Not to mention I could probably write a best-selling novel about my harrowing experience afterwards (Blue Lagoon anyone?). 

The concept of being stuck some place without access to anyone has come up for me so many times. Maybe I really like the imagery of the ocean which conjures up iconic scenes from the Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters (because I'm 12 at heart). Blue and white alternating striped sails billows in a gentle breeze, crystal clear cerulean blue water lapping at the smooth sealed wood of the underside of the boat, and the smell of salty sweet sea water - it seems so picturesque. A storm brews, chaos ensues, and you're left in ruin. Splintered wood, tattered clothing, scattered supplies, and the solemnity of being absolutely alone in drift in the aftermath of catastrophe. You make your way to land and collapse, gasping for air, feeling hot sand in places where it shouldn't but you're happy to be alive. Hours, days, and weeks maybe go past and you do what you can to be noticed. One of two things happens, you fashion yourself a makeshift jetty (look at me pretending to have sealegs) or else a passing by helicopter sees your bonfire and you're saved. The point is, no matter what, you have truly life-changing experience. Reintegrating back into society can be difficult (a la Arrow) because you're a different person, but we don't get to choose what impacts us. It just does. In this long extended metaphor, life, and particularly instances in college shipwreck you. They leave you stranded, bruised, and hopeless. You save yourself or others save you, but what's most imperative is what you take away from the entire ordeal. Shipwrecked, but not beyond rescuing.

This week had me crashing on the shores of the island known as failure and destruction (hey, Joey calm down with your literary prose). It was like I had been sailing into a storm and finally lightning struck and I was left distraught, disgruntled, and disheveled in the wake. From a night of hardcore studying reminiscent to my first year of college (a Teen Wolf Stiles-esque plot map) for an art history exam to riding the bus back and forth from campus to pull together my final project for my counter-storytelling class on debunking the myth of Africa as a country, Wednesday was almost unlivable. I made it through just as the wind figuratively and literally picked up. Thursday came around and I was sleep deprived along with emotional unnerved. I worked on my TV show, survived my journalism class, and a museum trip with my religion class to special collections that had me in close quarters with skeletons of last year (I'm feeling dramatic, just let it be).

I spent the late afternoon and evening preparing for my deconstructing male privilege event because I had a need, apparently, to swashbuckler patriarchy in the middle of the week. After a quick grocery run with Sam, I presented with Jake to a small group. It was fulfilling but I was ready to be done with the day. I headed home to start my essay and came to realization that I had missed the end of unit quizzes for art history. I had lost 20 points and with it all the sanity that I had been barely holding on to for the week. That was the moment the bow on my boat broke, it all fell apart (including me), and the sea of college threatened to swallow me up whole for a death by academic drowning. All the other things I had been pretending that I have could handle dragged me further and further underwater. I wanted to cry but there was no point. I wanted to quit but I had come so far. I wanted to sleep but I had work to do. I listened to some music, and rationalized my miniature breakdown. I was straight shipwrecked.
I woke up early Friday morning to send an email to my professor and TA for the class. I put that at the back of my mind and went to work tackling my seemingly neverending list of things to do. I knocked my paper out and started the rebuilding process on my makeshift imaginary island purgatory. It was off to class for me, more work in between, and a final paper delivery with some stops along the way. I had finished and survived my plight. I was okay. I had failed myself by forgetting that work. I had made a mistake but I would be fine. I ventured to Starbucks with my orientation friends, Lexi and Lila, to just vent. Honestly, seniors need some kind of support group but our struggles are too real, and mad complicated. It was good just to be and to talk candidly about our triumphs, failures, hopes, and fears. I even say my favorite first year, Cam, in passing.

5:30 pm hit and the students I had from my summer peer advisorhip came over for dinner, hanging out, and catching up. It was back to sail aka the grind of keeping up the fa├žade of being practically perfect. Lots of check-ins, hugs, and laughter later, I hit the books (on a Friday night, like Sleepover style) to make moves on some work before venturing out to chill with some of my fraternity brothers. Now that four hour romp is a story for another time. All I know is that I did it. I persevered through being shipwrecked by own strength (thank you big G for endowing me through you) and the aid of those around me. That experience of helplessness and disappointment will always stay with me but now more than I know how to process and overcome it.

My blog post question for the day is ... have you broken down this semester? Yup, usually it's not prompted by school but rather a lack of appreciation for the friendship I give.


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