It's a horrific time -- a celebration that you don't realize signifies the end of an ear, the completion of the years where you can act a fool and no one really says anything, and the end of, especially for those of us in Chico, a period in our lives where we literally do not live in the real world, and instead, enjoy living in a bubble (normally formed by Keystone Light). No one can prepare you for the emotions you are going to face when you graduate, because you really have to experience them yourself in order to understand it. It is a VERY strange time in our lives, and you really just have to go through it, try to remain positive, and remember that the good times aren't dead, they're simply different now, more...mature.
But in spite of all the depression that follows one of the most epic weekends of celebrating we'll ever endure (I actually talked myself up for the Feria de abril in Sevilla last week by saying to myself, "Think: grad weekend! If you can rally and do that, you can do anything."), there is a very, very bright light at the end of the tunnel for some of us! Hopefully all, but of course, blanket statements are ALWAYS bad (unless you are making a blanket statement about blanket statements;), and not everyone finds their way after they leave the college bubble. For me, this light really started to shine when I moved here to Spain to follow my heart and my dreams. I can now honestly say, something that will truly shock many, might kill some, and piss off others, that: graduating from college and moving out of Chico was THE BEST thing that has ever happened to me.
Yes, let me repeat that once more to make sure you are really thrown down into your chair..
Graduating college and moving OUT OF Chico was THE BEST thing that has ever happened to me.
Are you fully blown away? Good, I've got your attention.
Now, I will never ever look back on my time in Chico and think, "my gosh, I really wish I didn't have those years of my life." I met some of the most amazing people, got to live in a truly wonderful city, and love so much that I had those experiences, but now that I have been removed from that place for just over a year (which translates to many, many more years in post-grad life), I can really see how detrimental it was on so many different levels.
For one, why is it that we think we aren't drunk enough unless we are completely blacked out? Is it so bad to actually remember our nights? And when did blacking out become the new standard for drinking anyways? I really remember [the beginning of] each night of drinking, being in the process, and I can probably pinpoint at which shot I was sufficiently drunk (in most cases), but did not think it was enough because I was still pretty coherent. I mean, come on, how many of us have "cheers'd" with a shot in hand and actually said, "this will be the one that puts me over"? Yeah, now you're remembering all those times, huh? (*Cough, cough, last weekend, cough cough* <-- If you're still there;) I think it made it even worse that 90% of the time I could be blacked out, and wouldn't appear to be so to those around me, or even aware of it myself. We became experts at hiding how drunk we really were -- our true subject of study. So when you mix that with the desire to be as trashed as everyone around you so you too can make sloppy, bad choices, you get a great, big, awesome mess of a time! (I'm so sorry parents, grandparents, church people, teachers, employers, and etc who are reading this. Please know that I am no longer this way.)
Alcohol is literally the devil's drink. Now that I don't really drink very often, and when I do, drink much, MUCH less, I can honestly say that I think that I used drinking a lot of alcohol as an excuse to do things that I wouldn't do sober. How many people do we know that either made out with or actually slept with more than one or two guys in a night because she was too drunk to decide she probably didn't want to do that? Too many. How many of us have woken up in the morning with low self-esteem because we did something the night before that we would NEVER consider doing had we not been drunk? Too many of us. And how many times did we wake up trying to piece together our nights and no one really knows about large chunks of time? Too many.
THIS IS NOT NORMAL. We are so desensitized these days by movies, TV, and life in general, that it just seems so okay to get hammered and become completely disconnected from ourselves. Yes, of course, sometimes it is really necessary to let loose, forget most of your morals, and just live without inhibitions for a little, but every weekend? Every night? Not so necessary.
This is me on Halloween in Barcelona in 2009. I think it goes w/o saying that there was a lot of alcohol consumed before this photo was taken.
Here, is the same chick, at about six or seven am after a night of going out when I was in Bilbao just a couple weekends back. The difference? I didn't black out or consume way more than I should have.
And here I am once more, completely stone-cold sober.
<< Pretty incredible the difference, huh? O_o >>
My darling dino love said something to me once that really stuck, and is so completely true: "Alcohol disconnects us from our spiritual selves."
This might not mean much to many people, but to me, as someone who is now highly spiritual and really focused on it, that's scary. And since he said it, the couple times I've gone out and drank, without even getting wasted, I could feel it, and I could tell that I was completely disconnected from the me that I have been working to become. I did not like to realize that.
And it is because of this reason that I really feel that leaving Chico was the best thing that could have happened for me. I don't think I would have ever found this deep sense of spirituality had I stayed there. It's possible, because I was definitely starting to acquire it in the final months that I was there, but there, it's so hard not to be a rager when most everyone you know is.
When I got back from studying abroad, things were different. I still went out a lot, obviously still drank too much on given nights, and did some things that I would rather have skipped, but I definitely started to respect myself more, make some changes, and try. But trying can only get you so far if your surroundings do nothing to help. << Friends, I do not mean, in any way, that you prevented my growth. Spiritual growth is something that others can only assist you in, in the end, it all comes down to the person and their actively working to become that way. I love you all, miss you, and know we will have more good times in the future. Perhaps just a little more tasteful.. :) >>
My life and my mentality have changed so drastically since I left Chico, and all those former feelings of depression, confusion, anxiety, and fear that I had when I first graduated and left are completely gone. I feel so much more in touch with myself and the world, and that is incredible. And that is why I can honestly say that graduating from college and moving away from and out of Chico has been the best thing to happen to me yet. (Perhaps it also has something to do with following my heart and pursuing my dreams though? Something I highly suggest everyone do, no matter how scary and impossible they might seem!)
I know there are many who find this type of spirituality, self-awareness, self-love, and so on and so forth while they are in Chico. I mean, let's face it, Chico is a great hippie place. It's a great place to connect with nature, become one with the world, and really explore new things, but for me, being forced to leave was the best thing God could have done for me. I fully support "to each his own," and know that all I'm saying doesn't apply to every single person there (remember, no blanket statements here:), but for myself, and many that I know, to escape it and really discover myself, soberly, separately, has been such a blessing. I will always love Chico and thank it and the people there for those times, but I will forever be grateful that college wasn't more years than it was for me. :)
And those are today, and many of my recent days' thoughts!
Love yourself, love your neighbors, and especially..love OUR EARTH! <3