Twenty years without a break. From the time we're five to the gods know when. Always the pressure to keep going or be poor and useless. High school sucks, and unlike our parents, we aren't even done after high school; we have to spend those torturous years looking forward to more. Twenty years during which we can't miss a day without permission; can't eat without permission, can't pee without permission. No adult would keep a job like that for twenty years straight, but we expect our kids to do it. We aren't that shocked when our postal workers or stock brokers snap under the stress, but man, we're horrified when mere children can't handle it.

My dad told me to take a year off between high school and college; and he told my brother the same thing. Both of us did take a year off; then I did two years of college and took some more time off. My dad is proud of me. Me, I'm giving my kids a couple years off in there to just travel, or visit family, or something.

Could it be that Columbine is just what happens when partially developed humans are subjected to monstrous, continuous stress for the entire first quarter of their lives?
To me, college was a break. I had spent two and a half years working alongside going to school and bowling every Saturday and Sunday morning, and before that it was the same without the work. I was an introvert, with very little of a social life, but that was fine, as the person I was then couldn't deal with a social life. I think I was getting ready to crack, going to that damn hell known as high school which is a boot camp in its own way.

Then, I left for a small little college, eight hours away from home. All of a sudden the amount of responsibility decreased - keeping myself clean, my room clean, my clothes clean, and going to class and doing the assignments. Ripped out of that rut I was in, forced to grow and change. Meeting friends, and not the minor kind many people have in high school. Friends that I spend almost as much time with as I would family. Friends that get to watch the changes. I believed college was the real world, but it's not. It's even more of a bubble than it was before, as you don't need to leave the campus. The rest of the world disappeared in front of my eyes.

I am in the real world now. Sure, I have money, and my own place. But I have to work, I have so many more responsibilities, bills, and the like. The future can no longer be set aside until later, it stares me in the face every day. I'd go back to college in a heartbeat, especially since the changes that started there took until afterward to really have their biggest effects, and I'd love to spend more time there, adjusting to the person I'm becoming, being able to experiment with who I am some more...

Maybe it's just the type of school that can do it... maybe going to that state-run megacollege is what can do it...

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