I’ve never skipped a class. Not once. Except once I forgot I had class and didn’t go… But that doesn’t count. I have never just not gone to a class because I wanted to do something else or didn’t feel like it. Not in high school, and not so far in my two and half years at college. Up until now I have been to every class I’ve had, except for the occasional sick day or doctor’s appointment and I’m pretty proud of this accomplishment because it feels impressive and consistent. When I tell people they often don’t believe me, because I’m normally pretty relaxed about rules and rule keeping. But this is the one rule I’ve never broken. And it’s not necessarily a good thing.
In high school it would have been easy to skip. Most of my friends skipped at least a couple classes a week. Some skipped daily. We had an open campus and so leaving campus to wander downtown was easy to do. Parents got a call that evening if you were recorded absent from a class, but that wasn’t enough to deter most kids. I guess it was enough for me.
Now in college the temptation to skip class is pretty much a daily thing. I have to talk myself into showing up to each class. Often the reason I go is that I’ve already done the homework and don’t want my work to be wasted. Sometimes, I decide to skip class and then somehow still end up going. Something I can’t control takes me there because I can’t let myself skip.
I realized the other day that maybe never skipping class could be bad. Sometimes skipping class could be good, because sometimes going to class means I’m not taking care of myself, but I’m taking care of my pride. Sometimes I drag myself to class, slump in a seat and just endure until it’s over. I’m not present, but I didn’t skip. Which is all my pride cares about.
My exhaustion from school and not taking care of myself doesn’t just affect me, it affects my friends, including my roommate, my team, my family when I don’t have time to talk to them and my best friend back home when my frustration and tiredness leaves the communication department in my head broken.
Much of the reason I’ve never skipped a class is out of pride. I’m not a class skipper, so I don’t skip class. This is a part of my reputation that I’ve made and I’m unwilling to relinquish it. Even if no one cares, I care. I care that I seem like a good student and person by doing good things.
Sometimes what I need is not to go listen to a lecture on nihilism when I’m considering becoming a nihilist myself. Or to not go to another critique session when I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t critiquing myself. Or to skip the class with the professor that drives me crazy when I’m already on the verge of tears.
Maybe skipping a class would actually improve my performance in that class later.
Maybe I’m forgetting what college is for: to learn who I am and how to be better at what I love because it makes God happy when I do things with excellence and joy. There isn’t excellence or joy in frustrated exhaustion. College isn’t a degree, although that’s useful. College isn’t grades, although scholarships are pretty helpful. College is a way for me to honor God with who I am and what I do and a part of that is taking care of myself.
It kind of hurts me to write this. I feel like an anarchist telling the kids to push the school bus over and set the school building on fire. Please don’t do that. High schoolers are scary when they’re mad. I don’t want you to skip class. I don’t want me to skip class. But I do want to remember what is primary in my life and keep that in its place, rather than demoting it as secondary.
And though I risk sounding like a motivational poster or Christian pop song, I’ll say it, mostly to myself, but to you too.You’re more important than the things you accomplish. And I’m giving myself permission to skip class and occasionally fail massively at life.