Trying to Process When There’s No Process

I’ve just spent the last five and a half hours walking around my alma mater, visiting every place I can remember that holds some significance for me. I visited places like my freshman year dorm, the study lounges, and the music building where I took piano and voice lessons. I took over a hundred pictures, wrote down memories, and then lay on the couch and stared at the ceiling because I was so exhausted.

How do I make sense of all this stuff, and what do I do with it? Those questions have been plaguing me for the nearly four months I’ve been doing this project. I have stories and handouts from nearly every grade that I haven’t yet been able to share, because once I complete one grade, I start the next. If there happens to be time in between, I always have new material to write about instead of going back and documenting the old.

It occurred to me that school itself is like this. Once you’ve finished one assignment, you’re on to the next. When you’ve completed a year in school, you move on without much thought about what just occurred, and when you graduate, grad school or a full-time job tends to follow right away. We don’t tend to stop to reflect on and make sense of what we’ve experienced. And even if we try, there’s no established process for doing so. After talking with my Psychology professors, I have a lot to say on that topic, but I’ll save it for another post.

I’m leaving SCU in a few minutes, heading back to Sonoma after more than three weeks away. I’ll write in detail about college life tomorrow, once I’ve let it sink in. Although I can’t yet articulate what I’ve gained from spending time in familiar school spaces, I feel happy with my decision to go to college at Santa Clara. And though I haven’t figured out all the reasons why, as I wrap up revisiting my old schools, I feel much more at peace with my education, and somewhat more at peace with myself.

Comment (1)

  1. Margaret

    I’d be very interested to hear about the Psychology perspective on our modern society’s lack of ability or acknowledgement of the need to process daily and larger events! I think I spend a lot more time processing, but often downplay it as “thinking” or “turning things over” or “considering things.” Nice to know it could actually be a valued skill!


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