What My Sense of Melancholy Means to Me

What My Sense of Melancholy Means to Me

It reminds me of change, adaption, and to take a minute to look at the world outside of my window.
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Now that I'm well into my second year at Emory, I don't reflect on my college application experience (aside from recruitment when I said about 30 times that the recruitment process was exactly like the college application process). But there's one facet of my experience that I always think about because it remains so rooted in my life and psyche.

I wrote my Common App essay in 30 minutes. After spending two months working with a writing coach, the piece that should have been my final product made me want to scream. It was entirely about me, but it sounded nothing like me. Ever since I began writing essays and papers in class, the one piece of consistent feedback I got was how distinct my voice was (even when this was a negative criticism reminding me I really should take a more academic tone). And here was this piece that should have been the most personal manifesto I ever wrote and it sounded like a piece of cardboard reading a script from another piece of cardboard.

So I sat down two days before I was supposed to apply to college, much to my parents' shock and slight dismay, and wrote the one thing I had been dying to explain for years. Somewhere in the center of my chest, there has always been this heavy feeling that I tried for so long to put a name to.

As I explained to any college counselor who read my application, the first clear memory I can recall with this feeling is on a random day in May: I was nine years old and we had had guests out on the patio for a late lunch. It was the time of year when the sun didn’t set until close to eight at night, and I remember seeing the sky turning orange behind the trees in my yard. I had cracked open the bottoms of the windows in my room, and my thin curtains were pulsing in and out with the breeze. I sat staring at this scene in complete silence with my feet propped up on the windowsill.

I remember, as clearly as anything that occurred yesterday, the sound of my mother closing the garage, walking up the stairs, and sighing deeply. With no warning, I began to cry. My mom walked into my room and asked me what was wrong, but nothing was. Everything in my room was as it should have been; everything in my life was as it should have been.

And yet, I couldn’t stop feeling this weight.

As I grew up I began to discover movies, books, and songs that could trigger this sensation with no rhyme or reason. Some days, I allow this feeling in by intentionally revisiting the things I know will set it off. It's not a sadness so much as an extra weight, or a heavy filter on my image of the world. Others, I find myself taken by surprise when something new prompts a reaction and I become unable to separate myself from the melancholy.

I should explain: this feeling is not constant.

I'm not always festering, all mercurial and existential. It's hard to explain, but it is as if the sensation is a part of me, one that lies dormant until directly addressed. I am never going to be me without my melancholy, though I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing. As I explained in my essay, I do my best writing when I'm in a melancholic mood.

But more than that, and more important to me than it would ever be so someone deciding if I should be admitted to their university, my melancholy reminds me of home. It reminds me of change, adaption, and to take a minute to look at the world outside of my window.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Sharp

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Pay Attention To The Signs

There's always a higher purpose.

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The other day, I was having a rough night, one of those nights where you feel like you did everything wrong. I sat down to text a friend about everything, and as I did, I noticed that the time was 11:22. For those of you who know me, you know that the number 11 is so important to me, and the fact that 22 is a multiple of 11 made that number stand out even more.

Because of all this, I decided to look up the meaning of the number 1122. The words that I found online were ones that resonated with me greatly, and brought me to a greater understanding of the situation I was in and what I needed to do to move forward. The things I found online encouraged me to let go of people or things that are toxic to me, and to rid myself of negativity.

As I sit here two days later, I know that it is no coincidence that since then, I felt compelled to open up and share how I was feeling about another situation with a friend of mine.

Whether we notice it or not, our lives are consistently being shaped and guided by patterns and signs that lead us to our higher self and higher path.

All it takes is a certain awareness of what is going on in our life. When we take the time to notice the signs that are all around us, we are led to remember that this world is bigger than we are, and that we are constantly being supported and guided by forces greater than we are.

Whether you call that force God, the Universe, angels, or just believe in the general common good and sense of life purpose, the same idea applies, no matter who you are.

Sometimes, we just need some reassurance that everything is going to be okay, that we are still on the right path, no matter what is currently going on.

Let yourself pay attention to the ways in which the little things in your life, whether it be numbers you see, quotes that stand out, that person you just happened to run into who told you something you needed to hear.

Whatever it is, pay attention to those everyday signs that remind you how strong and capable you are.

In the end, I truly believe we are connected to something greater, and that common purpose unites us all and gives us the ability to be reminders for each other.

Recognize the signs in your life, and if they compel you to act, do so. If they compel you to stay right where you are, do that too. Here's to letting go of that need to constantly control everything going on and instead, being open to be guided to our path.


Talk soon,

Sam

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