Honey W. | V.W. Estate
Week Six, Day Two – Junior Year
Editor’s Note: Honey’s journal entries are numbered according to week and day of the week. As she does not keep daily entries, gaps appear in the numbering. Please see the Table of Contents for the full listing of entries.
“Congratulations!” Dr. Dean said. “I knew you could do it!”
She’d invited me to meet her at the café after class on the first day of the semester.
“I’m so proud of you,” she said. “I knew when I first met you that you had what it takes.”
I wasn’t feeling so sure. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve achieved academic success. Or maybe it has sunk in, but it suddenly seems not to matter.
“It’s no big deal, right?” I said.
“What do you mean?” Dr. Dean replied. “It’s a huge deal! It’s a really tremendous accomplishment.”
“I don’t feel accomplished,” I replied. Truth was, I felt sort of empty inside, at least in terms of my education. I felt great about my work as an au pair, I felt inspired by my new fitness goals, I felt as in love with music and the violin as ever–I just wasn’t feeling motivated or into school.
“Listen,” Dr. Dean said. “You have achieved a high degree of academic success, and you’ve done it early. For a long time–for two and a half years–that’s what’s been driving you. I’ve seen you moving forward with a single focus. And now, you’ve met that goal. As an undergraduate, you’ve reached the pinacle.”
I listened, and the feeling of emptiness within me grew.
“So, for a long time, what kept you moving forward was this goal, am I right?” she asked.
“I never had a concrete, specific goal,” I replied, after reflection. “I didn’t even really know what ‘academic success’ meant. I just didn’t want to drop out, so I pushed myself to be my best.”
“Well,” Dr. Dean laughed, “you did great, even without knowing what success was, specifically, you’ve achieved it! So, my question to you is, now what?”
I told Dr. Dean about my commitment to my au pair duties and about my interest in fitness so that I’ll be up for the demands of performing.
“But I really don’t know what to do for the next year and a half of school!” I said. “I mean, am I just marking time? Do I graduate early? What?”
“You still have another year and a half,” she replied. “But since you’ve already cinched the valedictorian slot, it’s not like you need to accomplish a lot. But there’s more to education than academic success, right?”
“What do you mean?” I replied. “Isn’t that what ‘education’ is all about? Getting good grades and increasing our skills?”
“No!” replied Dr. Dean. “There’s so much more to it! There’s discovering your passion, seeing who you are in relation to other people, learning about different ways of thinking! There’s so much more!”
I hadn’t even thought about that; I’d been so focused on developing my skills that I hadn’t thought there were other things to discover about myself, other people, and the world around me.
“Do you think I could take some time to just be?” I asked.
“I think that’s exactly what you might do!” Dr. Dean said. “You know, there are professional internships, and you might enjoy applying for one of those in music for your senior year. But what if you took this next semester to give yourself some time to explore and discover, with no pressure, no expectations, simply with curiosity and openness.”
“Wow,” I said. “I have never done that in my life!”
I put what I call “The Dr. Dean Discover-Me Project” into place the next morning.
At breakfast, I slowed down, and we all simply hung out and talked before the kids went to school. I learned so many new things! I learned that Jacques (M. Villareal) loves to play with toys! He invented this story with Luna’s golden pony that made all of us smile.
I learned that Luna and Hugo sometimes dream the same dreams! The night before they’d both dreamed about garden gnomes!
I learned that Max’s sweet side comes out when he listens to me tell stories about my own childhood.
When I went for my morning jog, I discovered how much I love the feeling of running. I love the rhythm. I love when my thoughts stop and I hear my breathing, my feet on the ground, the wind and the birds! I love the way the blood rushing through my veins feels. I love the sun and air.
While I was cleaning Luna’s room, Jacques came in and gave me a big hug.
“Ma fille,” he said. “You are family.”
After chores, I sat upstairs and read a romance. Oh! There are so many flavors of life I have yet to sample!
I felt young when I sat listening to music before my workout. I have so much yet to discover!
Think of life! Think of all of life before me! Filled with moments, and each moment, ripe, containing all-that-is, with so much potential! So much to discover!
I’ve been in college for two-and-a-half years, and I feel I am just now standing on the threshold of true learning, true discovery. My education has not yet begun!