Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Symbolic Rituals

Last year I told my friend that I wanted to get a symbolic exorcism once I left school, and that no seemed to understand. My friend said that not everyone is into symbolic rituals.  I told them that I'm not into rituals, and they said, "I think you do like symbolic rituals. Last week, when you said how happy you were about deleting the campus housing email, that was a symbolic ritual because the act of deleting the email didn't actually do anything."

I always thought I wasn't symbolic because holidays are all about fun for me, rather than meaning, and I've never been into school pride rituals, but I realized then that a person could be symbolic about things that mattered to them. When I received the campus housing email that I could delete (because I would not be returning to school the next year), I was ready to throw a party and didn't understand why my classmates who also hated the housing process didn't feel the same way. But now I understood - the fact that we didn't have to deal with the campus housing draw again  had been true for a long time - only someone who is symbolic, like I am, would really feel something about deleting that email.

Looking back, I realize that I have been symbolic all my life. A few years ago, my mom told me that she liked my shoulder-length haircut, that when I wore it long, it looked like something I hadn't let go of from my childhood.  And even though I liked it shoulder-length, I grew it out that year because I didn't want to be letting go of something from my childhood. I don't stop doing things that I like just because I'm older. Even though I liked it at shoulder-length, I grew it out because I thought my long hair represented the real me.

After I finished college, I did a long cleansing of my computer. I deleted everything I didn't want to keep, and went through my customized dictionary on Microsoft Word and deleted words that I only added for school. I know logically that documents don't take up much space and my computer wasn't running much faster because of it.  But it felt faster, and I felt cleansed.

When I told another friend about this discovery, she said that she had always thought of me as symbolic. She said, "Nothing you say scares me because I take it symbolically." I could not believe that two of my friends actually knew this about me before I did! Being symbolic or non-symbolic are just not qualities that I ever noticed in people.  Learning that being symbolic is a trait that varies among people has helped me understand so much, like why certain things make me feel really good when they don't have the same effect on other people. It reminds me of when I first learned about introverts and extroverts - everything is much clearer.

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