One week ago today, I graduated Oberlin College. This is my last ever post on Oberlin Blogs. It is time to say goodbye. I’m horrible with goodbyes. I am the king of attachment to both people and places. Even though I hated high school, I missed it during my first two years of college. I have even stronger feelings about leaving Oberlin. I think denial is preventing me from falling to pieces. Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled to be done. (I NEVER HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER EXAM EVER AGAIN!) But I have feels, many of which I don’t want to put on the internet for everyone to read. So, I am making a list of things I learned while at Oberlin rather than pouring out my sea of emotions. Obviously, I learned far more than this, but this list encapsulates what I’ve been pondering over the past week. Some of these I learned from personal experience, while others were taught directly to me by amazing Obies.
Oberlin taught me...
1. I make a terrible lesbian.
2. Psychologists separate emotional coping mechanisms into two main categories: active coping and avoidance coping. Active coping mechanisms address the issue, while avoidance coping mechanisms are ways of distracting yourself from the negative emotions. For example, if you see an email from from your boss with the subject line “bad news” you have two options. You could close your email and begin binge watching Desperate Housewives for several days. On the other hand, you could open it, read that the office fish died, and then maybe go talk to a friend about your unnecessary moment of panic. The former is avoidance coping, and the latter is active coping. Avoidance coping is associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. When in doubt, use active coping.
3. Avoidance coping is sometimes unavoidable.
4. It is far better to allow society’s transphobia to break my bones than to rot into a skeleton in the closet.
5. I’m a puppy. And a goose. And a unicorn.
6. It is my job to constantly check my white privilege.
7. Mason jars are the only practical part of being a hipster.
8. Grammar is a social construct that is often racist, classist, and ableist.
9. The brain is one unified thing. The obsessiveness that leads me to double check (and then triple check and then double check again) that I have my wallet in my pocket is also the obsessiveness that makes me a writer who considers every word I type. The need for sensory input that drives me to draw on myself with Sharpie also motivates me to spend extra time kneading my bread dough. Flaws are symptoms of perfections.
10. On your birthday, ask people to sing you something other than “Happy Birthday.”
11. Fantasy and science fiction are some of the best mediums for marginalized groups to address oppression. I can write a world in which drooling is a super power.
12. It’s better to have questions than opinions.
13. If you hit a bump in the road and land with your wheelchair on top of you, pretend that the chair is your shell and that you are Koopa Troopa who has been hit by lightning in Mario Kart and that you’re still in first place.
14. Say “thank you” more often than “I’m sorry.”
15. It is hard to learn American Sign Language. Like “Oh-no-I did-not-mean-to-say-I-like-Trump!” hard.
16. String lights are superior to all other lights.
17. Baking good bread is about having enough experience to have an accurate intuition rather than following instructions.
18. Kindness and selflessness lead to happiness.
19. When in doubt, drink Gatorade.
20. If you are lost, writing a list of your top five or six values, and trying to live by them, can help you get back on track. My top six are creativity, diversity, empathy, happiness, love, and resilience. When I’m about to make a major decision (such as what to do in the upcoming year), I think of these values rather than just listing pros and cons. Obviously, everyone’s values are different, but they’re all equally useful. Moving home for the entire year so that I could have foot surgery was the most logical option, but it would have been a terrible choice because it went against my value of happiness. If having surgery right now would break my brain, then my feet can wait. Living by my values helps me prevent self-destruction.
21. I own too many books, sleep with at least five stuffed animals a night, and go through about a case of Diet Coke a week. This is okay. I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be the eccentric human who reads The Ocean at the End of the Lane while drinking Diet Coke out of a Mason jar and petting a Care Bear.
22. To love and be loved as I am and for who I am is all I really need.
Thank you to everyone who has read my blog over the years and those who have mentored me while I wrote it. It has been a crucial part of my Oberlin experience. I hope everyone has a fantastic life!