I’ve spent a lot of time trying to reflect on how I will view this summer. I’m getting ready to be back around campus, mentally preparing to be back in classes once again, but it feels a bit bizarre knowing this whole summer is slowly coming to an end.
The summer of 2020 was many things: coronavirus, the continuation of the movement for Black lives, the forest fires, and those are just the present events that are most immediate. The fires in particular these past few weeks, where I felt like I was living in a Blade Runner film, have only accelerated my eagerness to go back to Chicago. The air continues to be terrible to breathe in, but at least for now, the skies are starting to become more clear (in the greatest part to the incredible firefighters who are incarcerated and must be released).
I think about this summer in the way with which it’s removed the opportunity to be physically present amongst those I care about in these times. There is no chance to collectively laugh or grieve in person for all of the truly heart wrenching moments of this summer. While we all navigated the Zoom lifestyle of getting together, playing board games online, I also learned how to be an at-home student for my own interests. I read several books, dozens of articles, and listened to far too many podcasts and lectures. Learning on my own terms, with my own classmates, I discovered so much about the world. But I really would say that amidst all that has happened, the subject I learned the most about was me.
I don’t deny the amount of maturity I feel like I gained during the first two quarters of college. However, the way with which I’ve forced myself to reckon with my own ideas in isolation was something that accelerated that maturity. I don’t necessarily feel as though I ever became a new person, but I feel as though I am getting at approaching life with care, with a hope in seeing the best in people. This isn’t at all to say how disillusioned I have been about institutions (which has also grown a lot this summer), but I will say that I am trying to be able to think with nuance, without space for absolutes that people want to define for me.
Whenever I wasn’t doing my RAship, I was writing or reading or endlessly doom scrolling for answers to whatever I was thinking about. I would text friends at 2 AM asking about a particular sentence or topic in a book I was reading. So much of this search wasn’t just about learning about a different topic, but really forced me to understand the relationships with the people I know, the relationship I have to my communities, and the relationship I have to the world. It’s all sort of culminated in me realizing that the last thing I can ever do is claim I know enough. Of course I feel as though I’ve grown in my own radical mindset this summer but I am never going to settle in this ideology; I’ll only continue to grow.
What the hell does all of this mean for me as I start year two of college? No clue at all. I may feel restless in my classes for them not being nuanced enough. I may become even more laser-focused for my classes just to give myself more time to learn outside school. I may forge new friendships on campus. I may lose touch with friends. But I am okay with whatever ends up happening. I’m confident enough to say that this summer gave me the time to reflect and grow in a way that will only allow me to help find more ways to seek out to build a world that I want to be a part of. It’s just only a matter of time now as to where that ends up going from here.
Being Noah Tesfaye #148: Ending Quite the Summer
Thanks for reading this week! Follow me on Twitter if you want to ever discuss anything and hear my spontaneous thoughts. Also, if you want to see more of my work, visit my website!