Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Last Semester Plan

I am going to be a cautionary tale.

That is my actual plan.

Most people end up being a cautionary tale by accident. They go through life doing stupid things and racking up the inevitable consequences. Then concerned mothers point to them and say, “Now, remember, children, don’t do X, Y, or Z, or you’ll end up like that person.”

It follows, then, that someone purposefully doing something stupid with the intent of teaching others a lesson will be much more effective because they have the end goal in mind.

That’s why I’ve decided to make everyone hate me.

Most seniors live their last semester in the shadow of the looming reality of graduation. They gradually pull away from the general population of campus, stop trying to meet new people, and slowly fade from the memories of underclassmen before they’re physically gone.

This is a totally normal coping strategy. “It won’t hurt as much to leave if I won’t be missed,” the thinking goes. “Why bother investing in others if I won’t be able to keep up with all of them after graduation?”

Therefore, I have decided to take this reasoning to its logical extreme. “It won’t hurt as much to leave if I am actively hated. Why bother interacting with others in a positive—or even a neutral—way if I won’t be able to keep up with them after graduation?”

So, now that second semester has started, I refuse to be friends with anyone.

At first, it will just be neglect. I will not go to events, and I will ignore invitations to hang out. If I come to meals at the dining commons, I will not contribute to conversations, except for the occasional derisive laugh.

Then things will escalate. If you try to say “hi” to me, I will ignore you. If you’re lucky. I may also trip you and say mean things about your mom. I will not respond to Facebook messages, emails, phone calls, or direct confrontational interventions by my roommates. All blog posts after this will be exposés all of the deep, dark secrets and hidden weaknesses of people I know on campus.

Basically, I’m going to do everything I can to cultivate ill will toward myself. Cutting insults. Punches in the face. Bombs in packages deceptively covered with smiley face stickers and delivered through campus mail. By the time I’m done, this college will want to spew me out of its mouth.

Everyone around me will have learned a valuable lesson: don’t be like Amy. She is an extreme example of what happens when you chose not to love others because it might hurt you. She was supremely selfish, and look at the destruction she left in her wake.

All of the freshmen will nod somberly and resolve, “When I’m a senior, I will not do that. I will try to be an example and mentor to those younger than me, making good use of the time I have left. And, when I graduate, it will hurt. A lot. But I’ve seen the alternative, and that is much, much worse.”

And, despised and pitied, I will think of these freshmen and smile. Because they will have learned from my intentional stupidity, startled into the realization of how easy it is to pull away from people in the last few months of college. And the world will be a better place.

When I ran this plan past the women of my apartment, they weren’t very enthusiastic. Not because the logic wasn’t convincing, but because A. they don’t think I could pull it off, being almost hopelessly dependent on the friendship of cool people and B. having a cautionary tale as a roommate isn’t really that fun.

So if it turns out that I can’t enact this plan, I suppose I’ll just have to use words as a warning (far less effective, but with fewer negative consequences, probably).

One of the most powerful kinds of bravery is the ability to love before leaving. To say, “I chose to invest in you even though this friendship may only be for a season.” It’s always a risk to love others.

Please. Take that risk. Pursue friendships that might be over soon. Get to know someone better even if it will hurt more when you lose them. Pray that God would increase your emotional capacity so you can love more people, or love a few people more deeply, regardless of the consequences. (No, really, I’m serious. I did that this fall, and God definitely answered that prayer.)

In heaven, we won’t have to say goodbyes. It is an act of faith to believe that, and to not let goodbyes here tear us apart and keep us from loving.

And feel free to get to know me better as part of this theological exercise. You’ll find out pretty quickly if I actually decided to put this plan into action or not….

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