My time at The College has given me a lot of things. It's fostered many passions, advised simultaneous skepticism and open-thinking, and granted me chances for both exploration and (just as necessary) failure. All of these things, while granting me many different types of knowledge, have given me a special window to learn about my personal growth.
Professor Berger always teases me as a Psychology major, prodding that each one of us comes in "broken", trying to figure out what's wrong with ourselves. His joke is easy enough to brush off; Berger is a man indebted to hyperbole (in one of his lectures, I've seen him compare the War of 1812 to Jurassic Park). But there is perhaps a shard of truth in his joke. I don't think you'd be able to find a single Psych major who isn't honestly curious about some of the thoughts in their head.
While I've been given the foundations needed to develop critical and analytical thought and a knowledge base to examine human behavior, the subject that I've become the most familiar with is... me. I've been given many lessons outside the classroom, testing and shaping my caliber as a man. During my three years in college, I've seen my younger brother serve time in state-detention and the effects it had on my parents and family. I've struggled with the pressure to make good on my parents' investment and succeed. I've seen two of my relationships crumble, and dealt with the consequences and isolation that they conferred. I've felt the helplessness of someone watching a friend coping with crippling depression. I've seen friends at their lowest after a night of drinking, and had those roles reversed.
All of these things either happened while I was on campus, or would come to affect me during my time there. As humans, we react to these kinds of events in many different ways. The months and years at The College have given me ample opportunity to examine the swells of my different anxieties and depressions. These things that I've mentioned are not typical moments in my days (and indeed, I’ve seen many students clashing with much greater difficulties than my own). But in spite of all the wonderful moments I've had during my time here, none of us can hide from the inevitable tides that shake our realities and create flickers of doubt.
It’s taken me time to learn just how lucky I’ve been to be given these challenges in a wonderful training ground as The College of Idaho. In a conversation I had with Jen Nelson (Director of ResLife) the summer before my junior year, she described the college environment as a petri dish for human behavior. This simple description lodged itself into my head, and I’ve found myself expanding on it as I move through the seasons. Researchers use petri dishes to store samples, testing different cultures, monitoring progressions and combinations. In the same way, we students are like scientists, playing with different strains of behavior and attitudes. Sometimes these explorations go awry, but mistakes in this hypothetical laboratory are rarely fatal. Just like the researcher, we can clean out the remnants, adjust in light of what we discover, and continue.
As I begin my senior year, my mind feels more compelled to consolidate both the things I’ve learned within the classroom and everything that I’ve seen around it. Every time where I could have hidden myself away, I had a community that enveloped me, and taught me how to value moments of happiness and keep resolve with the bad. You can’t expect these things to place themselves at your feet (you have to be willing to seek them!), but ultimately to that which you give, you see returns.
Andrew is a senior Psychology major from Boise, Idaho.