A while ago, I was a student at a conservative Christian university, an environment that, to me, was just as taxing as being in a relationship with an uncooperative polar opposite. The two years that I was there did not go well. At first, I was hesitant, but did my best to accommodate. After chains of arguments leading to nowhere and my own identity and self-esteem being compromised, I resorted to thorny survival methods. I screamed, fought, slung mud, purposely broke rules, and at one point even called a suicide hotline.
It’s been a few months, and I think the hate and exasperation stage has finally died down to a calm of acceptance. I see the updates of this school in my life, but I can now wave them away with apathetic acknowledgement. And though I will not be returning, part of me actually is looking forward to the eventual re-encounter.
I look forward to seeing my friends again, perhaps walking on campus and getting a Jamba Juice or coffee, chatting up with some old employees and coworkers, and breathing in the cool Malibu air again.
I pride myself on being very diplomatic when it comes to break-ups of romantic encounters.
From a distance, I can now appreciate my school for the good things it had. A premium education despite some religious or conservative biases. Some very warm people and random acts of compassion. Professors that begged me to stay, different minds that I learned a lot from. Cozy dorm rooms suitable for soft music and homework.
This school taught me a kind of tolerance that I would never expect from attending any normal university. I was immersed, albeit unwillingly, into a strange environment that constantly grinded my gears and made me want to scream at every person. But I had to adapt. And today, the things I saw, that would conjure up mirth from my friends who had public or liberal arts educations only produce a sort of familiar shrug from me. The conservative Malibu barbie mentality became bearable. I am more patient and sympathetic with the gripes of those who do not support gay marriage or abortion due to steadfast religious beliefs, though I disagree with them nonetheless. I am more open to people from different parts of America because I know the stereotypes are not true for all. I got used to hearing music that was universally shunned back at my old high school and community. Sometimes I hear country music and enjoy the lyrics.
I can look this school in the eyes, nod, and thank it for the experiences that I had, both positive memories and hard-learned lessons. Sometimes, I admit that I even miss it.
But I will never go back.
I value my sanity too much, and as beautiful as that school could be for some people, it will never be compatible with me. I will observe it from afar, tolerate it, and coexist. As for now, and probably this decade, I still can’t see us becoming friends. We’ll keep in touch and continue to comment and assess each other. But finally, we are at peace with our past.