The Constant Student

Photography by Joseph Brannan

There has not been a single moment in my life when I have not felt like a student.

A student is someone who is learning, has learned, and needs to learn something. I am certain that I have always fallen into one of these three categories.

That stage when I was fourteen and thought I knew everything? I still felt like a student, albeit a well-learned one. I was the one that people went to for advice when they had a problem, and the one that was unafraid to ask the teacher a question when she had a problem.

The stage I have reached now, twenty-two years old and feeling like an idiot ninety percent of the time? I feel like a student who has not quite learned enough yet. There is so much to know out there. I cannot possibly cram it all into my brain, despite wanting to. I feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of things I do not know.

I happen to like learning, which is why I am both dreading and yearning for the school year to start.

I dread the inevitable stress. I remember the pressure I felt last year, and of course, that thought is begetting more stress. Well done, me, for that unnecessary loop of heart-racing.

But I yearn for it because I feel like I have lost a sizeable chunk of knowledge over the summer. During that time, I had some moments where I proved to myself that I could still think critically, but that tower was built on a rusting base which I still need to maintain. I hope that returning to university will help.

I have tried to keep on top of things; I worked full-time hours, earning money for my tuition and books. The knowledge base I gained from my job is rewarding, but also limited, and any free time I have is to be put towards tasks that prepare me for my future. So my time learning and experiencing the present is also greatly affected.

When I was in high school, I enlisted in a co-op that allowed me to take university courses and work as a research assistant while earning high school credits. One of the major factors that made me decide to do the program was the fact that high school drove me nuts, and I wanted out. I did not feel like I was getting the most out of my time there. I needed experience, something I could learn from, and I felt that the high school system was not the perfect avenue for my particular brand of learning.

That is part of the reason I constantly feel like a student, even outside of school. I am trying to learn as much as I can while navigating through a system designed for the mass majority and not for the individual. It has to be this way, since there are so many of us students in this world, and it makes sense to set it up that way.

Yet there lies the flaw; we are all individuals, so it is for none of us.