In the world of universities, there’s scholars, administrators, students, administrative assistants. And then there’s me. I’m an oddball.
I always have been a little different, tying my shoes the opposite way—from top to bottom instead of bottom to top—when I was a kid and setting a brief trend.
When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to go to college. I applied first to a community college to test the waters. Then, I applied to the highest-ranking university I could commute to: Stetson University.
I started out as an English major at community college. Perhaps I should have stuck with that. However, as these things go, I switched my major to Psychology and then, after transferring to Stetson, added Philosophy as a major.
I have always had very broad interests. A jack-of-all-trades and master of none. When my first Philosophy professor told the class that there was nothing beyond philosophy and that philosophy deals with everything, I was sold.
But philosophy is hard. Quickly, I bought myself a philosophy encyclopedia and dictionary in order to grasp this whole new language I was trying to pick up and master. I tried like everything to make A’s. And mostly, I did.
I graduated from Stetson in 2004 with BA’s in Philosophy and Psychology. I took a year off to study. I wanted to go to graduate school and thought I should spend a year beefing up my skills in Philosophy.
I applied to the University of North Florida. I was accepted. Then, I emailed to Department Chair asking how to apply for the Teaching Assistant position. He said, “Consider yourself as having applied.”
I got the Teaching Assistantship. I had a lot of anxiety and I would be speaking in front of students earning their BA’s. I decided I would overcome these fears and be the best teacher I could be. These days, I am fairly comfortable talking to groups—a skill that very few people seem at ease with.
I had decided, too, that I would try my very best to make all A’s in my graduate work. This would be tough, I knew. I would attempt to do my reading, turn in my work early, and solicit feedback from my professors so I could make the grade.
All the while, I was hammering myself in the head with logic. I became an informal logic machine. I could assess arguments, identify fallacies and see objections.
Being an informal logic machine is not my natural state. It’s not a healthy state for me. When I had my first psychotic break, it was because I could see so many different arguments and objections as I was writing my MA thesis that I became paralyzed. I simply broke.
That was on top of the personal obligations I had, which made my situation worse.
It was a perfect psycho-social storm that made me break from reality.
I hoovered around academia for several years, thinking I would make my way back in. At this point in time, it seems that will never be the case. I have had to take time to heal, adjust and align myself with new goals.
The oddball in the university—the one who broke from reality during her years in graduate school—has now blossomed into a writer of sorts. I do writing exercises every day. This is one. In my writing, I’ve come to understand other people and myself more fully.
My life—the one I’d pick for me—is currently a life living in a RV at a campsite, doing creative remote work for a living. That’s as sure of myself as I have been for a while—perhaps ever.
John Nash said that living with schizophrenia is a matter of living a quiet life. I think he was right. I may have had more grandiose visions for myself in the past. I may have even managed to do some remarkable things. But, at the end of the day, I just want a quite life. A humble life. And that is what I’m currently aiming for.