Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Ability that my College Classmates Never Had

If someone said to me that they are a private person and do not want to share personal information about themself online, but a friend was pressuring them to get a blog and write really personal stuff on it, I would be really upset that their friend was pushing something on them that is such a personal decision, and I would fully validate and support the person in saying that their friend needs to respect their boundaries. The fact that I have a personal blog would be irrelevant to this person's situation, as I am doing this by choice and they would be getting forced into it.

If someone told me that they signed up for what was labeled as a fiction-writing class, only to find out that the professor is expecting everyone to write true stories about their personal life, and this person does not want to share their personal life with the class and would have never signed up for the class if they had known that this was what it would be, I would be really angry at that professor for misrepresenting the class. I would stand by this person that it is not okay for them to have to write about personal stuff in a class that was labeled as fiction-writing. The fact that I love to write personal stuff and am planning to publish multiple memoirs in the course of my life is irrelevant because I am doing it by choice and they would be getting forced.

This is the skill that no one at my college had. If they liked something, they just did not see a problem with that thing being forced on anyone who didn't like it. They couldn't validate anyone whose feelings were different from their own. In the example I described above, what makes the situation right or wrong is all about consent. Did you choose to share personal info online, or did someone pressure you into it? Did you choose to write a true story to share with your class, or did your professor force you to share something personal without warning you in advance that that was a requirement of the class? What makes it right or wrong is whether or not you consented. But my college classmates just did't think that way. They would decide whether an activity was desirable or not, regardless of what people actually wanted to do. They would simultaneously bash someone for sharing personal stuff that they wanted to share, while invalidating someone who got pressured to share when they didn't want to.

I understand it was a bad fit. I was nothing like anyone at my school and I never belonged there. But I how I was treated as a result of not belonging was objectively bad. It's just not how you treat someone.

When I called my college the summer before freshman year to get information about the orientation camping trip, I was told that there were going to be bathrooms and showers on the trip. There weren't. And I did not find that information out until I was already on the trip. And when we got back from the trip and I told everyone that I had gotten incorrect information, no one cared. Literally, not one single student validated my feelings or agreed that there was anything at all wrong with the fact that I was given the wrong information. They all had a ton of fun on their trips and they just couldn't see past that. And that is not just a bad fit. It's possible to be okay with something yourself and to recognize that everyone else is not okay with the same thing and understand that they have a right to not participate. But that's one skill that the students at my college just didn't have.

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