-Bethani Thomas, Opinions Editor
I was on my way to my car to leave campus the other night when I came upon two girls in the Healthplex parking lot. One was helping the other put on a onesie, or as some would call it, footie pajamas. Now of course, this was a little strange, but most of the time I do not judge others’ strangeness, as I’ve been there myself. But both girls saw me coming and began laughing at the awkwardness of the situation. Upon recognizing me, they approached me at my car. The one now fully dressed in the onesie began an explanation as to why she was wearing this outfit, in the parking lot, at 11 at night; and it was simple—she was restless. This article is dedicated to her.
I’ve written about restlessness and discontentment before, about a year ago. If you’d like to read my first article, themississippicollegian.com has them all. It is titled, The Search for a Place Called Elsewhere. But now, a year later, I am drawn to the topic once again, but this time I want to rewind a little more in my life.
When I was six years old, I ran away. It wasn’t too far—I simply took to the woods. I grabbed my kid brother, who was four at the time, and my little blue suitcase, hurriedly stuffed with clothes, and trekked off through the neighborhood to reach the forest’s edge. Then mom found me. When I was around seven years old, we visited someone’s home and, once again, I yanked my little brother to the backyard, and we descended into a concrete-lined run-off channel using a “rope” of tied-together garbage bags. But mom, again, soon came after us.
Since growing up, or at least coming to college (I have yet to decide whether the two have been synonymous for me), I have written short stories about a character running away, and even about myself leaving or disappearing mysteriously into the night. I had some friends who renovated an abandoned shack in the woods, which we named “Elsewhere” and would waste long hours there ignoring life and responsibility.
I remember a specific day when I lay alone on a blanket in the woods across the street from school. I remember somewhat being caught in a daze (no drugs induced this, I promise) and hearing the train’s whistle in the distance, I quietly wondered if I would survive a jump onto it. I felt that if I could get away from the scratched record of everyday life, I would be able to see myself and embrace my life in a true manner.
But even still, I made it to senior year. And through the “making it” I have grown up a little bit. I am not a better person because I no longer have crazy urges in the middle of the night to explore abandoned buildings, and in no way am I much more mature because I go to bed earlier than I ever have in college. But I’m different. I’ve applied for a few “big girl” jobs, and I’m happy to have gotten an interview. I’ve deeply considered further education and will probably go to grad school next year.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve given up a part of myself with the giving up of my adventuresome, restless spirit. But after much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really haven’t given up as much as I thought I did—life simply changed. And with transition come decisions and things we have to leave behind. When I broke down my junior year it was due to change. It was due to the decision that I have to grow up and leave my childhood and my wishy-washy emotions and my futile attempts to run away behind.
During my unbeknownst-to-me breakdown, I talked to Dr. Miller. I had a class with him at the time that was challenging me, and several times I found that I was not meeting the class expectations. One day, I apologized and told him that life was getting me down. I described that in the class I was fine and felt good, but that upon exiting the classroom I felt an undertow that would pull me away into a current of reckless emotions and anger that wanted to draw me away from life at Mississippi College. He chuckled (Dr. Miller always does that) with coffee in hand and basically told me that what I described to him was perfectly normal, and in a way exactly what he wanted students to experience. We should be restless at school so that we can be drawn into the real world. We should be antsy and ecstatic, ready and willing, passionate and yes, even angry at times. We are discovering ourselves and how we think, and act, and gain pleasure, and are hurt, and incited. That is the beauty of growth.
So go ahead and put on your footie pajamas because you’re restless. Do not be alarmed at this need to do something and be something, or the craving to see new things. This is the sign of a healthy hunger to get away from the monotony of college life and to do, be and see life as it is. You can make it through and before you know it you’ll be going to career day wearing a pencil skirt and heels, wondering how the girl that was wearing a onesie in the healthplex parking lot made it through—but I promise you, she did.