Out from under my umbrella (ella ella)

| Staff Columnist
Mike Hirshon | Student Life

Mike Hirshon | Student Life

I realized the other day that I’ve gone through three umbrellas since I’ve been here at school, quite a change from home, where it rarely rains after May. I never carried an umbrella before this past August because it simply wasn’t necessary, but now every Thursday and for other long spans of time in between, I find myself standing under my umbrella. None of them has lasted against the torrents long enough to create a legacy, though the first (God rest its soul) perished outside Seigle on account of a rogue spring, and the second fell in combat during its tenure as a shield in an epic Nerf war last Saturday. The third umbrella now looms over me like “Fantasia’s” Chernabog, spreading its black wings to defend me in my hydrophobic endeavors.

These umbrellas serve as nothing more than mere excuses, shielding me from the pressures and reality of college.

I came to Wash. U. with high expectations. I knew that it would be one of the best experiences of my life, filled with more euphoric moments and happiness-obliterating instances than I could even imagine. Along with that, though, I knew I would have to work because, well, it would be hard.

Like most (if not all) of the students here, I never had to study for tests or try too hard on homework in high school; it just came easily. In spite of my knowledge of the difficulty of Wash. U., I still came here with a high school mindset.

I slept away the afternoons without doing homework. I waited until the night before a paper was due to start it. I didn’t study for exams worth 30 percent of my grade.

When my papers came back with less-than-desirable grades or I stayed awake until 3 in the morning reading Augustine, I didn’t accept responsibility. I told myself, “You’re at Wash. U.,” or, “It’s OK, you’re just getting adjusted,” or, “Well, I’ll never read Cicero after this, anyway.”

But that is complete garbage. Honestly, it’s because I’m too afraid to actually try anything.

What I’ve come to see is that all of these ridiculous excuses about why I’m not doing well are merely some nylon sheath fighting back the truth as it pounds overhead and soaks my pant legs.  They have no validity and do nothing but enable me to continue to be lazy and scared.

My new umbrella is so obnoxiously large that it actually echoes back the sloshing of my feet in the water as I walk. In the same manner, my excuses are beginning to reflect back at me my own failures.

Three weeks remain in the semester, and yes, my grades have improved dramatically, but I’m still not doing my best. I defer to others in my seminar classes to answer the questions because oftentimes, I read through my texts too quickly and don’t want to look like a moron when I speak. I’ve been hiding behind these stupid reasons of why and why not, and the echoes are growing too loud.

I can tout my ability to reason or write or walk and chew gum at the same time, but until I actually commit to any of them and stop procrastinating and under-qualifying them, I will never actually prove to myself that I can survive here, because the fear is too much.

Too often, we fear failure, so we only act half-heartedly to safeguard ourselves from disappointment and embarrassment. What we wind up with, though, is wet feet and a disgruntled attitude and frustration with ourselves.

The only solution to this problem is to actually try.  Give it everything we’ve got. Maybe that’s a bit contrived, but it’s the truth. We will never be able to fulfill our potential if we don’t invest ourselves more than partially in our endeavors.

As the structure seems to follow, my new umbrella will break soon enough under the weight of the miniature clouds that fall from their parents or from the rapid-fire of foam darts. I can handle it, though, because I am tired of hiding from the rain. Yes, it may be cold. Yes, it may make my hands and feet pruny. Yes, it may smear the ink in my notebooks. I have found, though, that life just is not as fun if we don’t play in the puddles and the downpour.