I don’t know what I’m reading.
I stare and stare and stare at the book given to me by my professor but can’t bring myself to open it, because I don’t know what I’m reading. It’s not in a foreign language that I’m having a hard time translating, because ironically, that would be far too easy. It’s in my native language, the words registering to my brain like breathing, but I still don’t know what I’m reading.
What are these authors saying, as they twist and weave their words into a world that everyone around me seems to understand? I can see the surface level of what the author is trying to say, and if I try hard enough I know I can scratch at it to see the layer right underneath, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough.
“Don’t give excuses,” my professor says, and I know it comes across as an excuse as I try to explain that I can’t tell anyone what the underlying meaning of this scene means, or the symbolism it’s supposed to represent, since it goes flying over my head like a bird narrowly avoiding collision.
“You need to participate,” my professor says, and I know I need to try but how can I when everything that takes ages for me to think of is said within the first five minutes of class discussion? What takes me an hour takes my classmates a minute; what takes time for me to raise my hand for takes my classmates to the next topic, my contribution long past relevant.
How do I survive college this way? How do I get by when writing is what I’m good at, but I can’t understand the writing of other authors and poets who put just as much work into their stories as I do? I am a fraud; the looks of confusion and shame I receive when I state my major to the world are well-deserved.
“Could you share with the class?” my professor asks before we are dismissed, the eyes of my classmates tearing into my soul as I try to bring the words to my lips that I know will never come. What could I say to everyone that expects an intelligent conversation from a college senior?
“I’m sorry professor,” I say. “I can’t.” And I sag under the weight of disappointment.
It’s not my fault, after all. I don’t know what I’m reading.
college is getting to me. send help.