Maybe it's the crucible of finals, maybe it's coming to the end of things and wondering what happened to all the time I thought I had to live up to some idealized self I still cling to so dearly, but my sentiments toward PTS crystalized for me tonight. Maybe it was looking at all the awards on the website that I won't be winning. Maybe it was coming to write a paper and not knowing at all what it was I wanted to say, and realizing that I had in fact become stupider while at an Ivy League grad school. The incredulity of it all was pretty astounding. The sentiment that emerged, after gathering all the other disparate negative emotions into itself, was disappointment.
When I got the letter saying that I was accepted here, I was elated and terrified at the same time. The future was pure possibility. What I could achieve was limitless. Though I had a terrible transition from college, nothing could diminish my excitement for PTS.
When I arrived, I was so excited. Everything was new and yet historic, regal and decrepit, in a word, possibility.
But Junior year, something happened. I felt beat down by the system here. I was made to feel stupid by my peers, some of whom had spent the last four years formally studying theology and ready to go to the next level, whereas I knew the Bible, Greek, and lit crit but hadn't the slightest idea about archane theo-jargon. I was made to feel stupid by classes that were at once rudimentary and yet graded as if darts were thrown at a board with different letters pasted about. I was made to feel that it wasn't enough to love God and my neighbor, but that I had to love denominations and a way of doing things that was so much more like jumping through fiery hoops than growth in peace and wholeness. I was made to feel that the power structures in place here did not have a place for me unless I was interested in a narrow set of things I guess I was supposed to be interested in. I had no church community, had little sense of community in class except bonding over how terrible the instruction was most of the time. I made friends that made me very happy. But for some reason I cut myself loose from caring about being accepted by this place. I decided that I would not be made to feel anything, after all - that I was the master of my destiny and would not play the power games that run this place from the ground up.
Don't get me wrong - there are many people here that I love dearly. There are many whom I will miss sorely. There are people here who shaped me, for good or ill, and I can't change that.
But I can't shake the feeling of disappointment - feeling that I expected PTS to be something different (and better) than it is, and that I expected myself to do and be better while here - to excel. I'm just plain pissed about the ways I feel this place limited me - and then in turn the ways I limited myself. Did I do important growing here? Yes. Would I have come here if I had it to do all over again? Probably. But I can't help but feel that I was somehow passed over, forsaken.
I know it's easy to blame systems and other people instead of myself. I do want to take responsibility for what I did to not live up to my potential while here. But the feeling of betrayal runs deep. It's not easy to push away. And it has festered for a while.
I hope time can soften the intensity of my disappointment. I am grateful for all I was able to learn and experience while here. I guess I should just be grateful I survived this place. I'm definitely grateful for finding the love of my life here. I think that's the note I want to end on.