Sand Bagger

My cross country coach in high school used to call the students who would sprint the last quarter mile of the course, the part where all of your friends/teammates/family members were standing cheering you on, Sand Baggers. He said if you had all of that energy left in the end you didn’t try hard enough throughout the rest of the course. Ya, he’s probably right.

I think my college career has been of Sand Bagging nature. I started off great, excited, everything sounded so scholarly and I didn’t actually believe that it was happening to me. Biochemistry? No, I’m just taking classes, like high school. What does it matter if I like this or not. You just take classes, begrudgingly study, and then you graduate with a degree, right? Well there I was living in the library, moving from class to class as though I were a zombie, programmed to move from Center Hall 206 at 10:00 am to Peterson 108 at 11:00 am. I took notes, you know, wrote down what seemed to be important. I used highlighters, that means you work hard. I answered the questions the TAs would ask, only by reading off the notes I had taken, they usually asked questions with answers that I had highlighted, so it made it easy, or maybe not easy, but logical. People thought I had it together. I fooled them because I got dressed in the morning. Rather than come to class in my pajamas and UGG boots, I wore pants and sweaters, button up tops and scarves. This is partly how I was raised and partly because I am self-conscious of my body and if I look put together, I think I can mask my flaws. Furthermore I talk a lot, if I talk enough I’m bound to say something right, especially when I’m reading off of my “notes.” So I did this, miserably, I would break down during finals every quarter, that is 12 times in my college career. (11 actually, I still have one more round of tear-filled torture, accompanied by excessive amounts of caffeine and angry phone calls to my Mom). I would break down, and fight with myself and my family about changing my major. We would decide that college was just stressful and you have to do something hard to get ahead in life. (What “get ahead in life” means I’m not so sure, but it sounded convincing, especially when spoken to me in Arabic by a mother whose voice could put out a forest fire).
Now I am in my last quarter in college. I am realizing that I have hated this all along. I have been miserable and it has stopped me from doing things I love. I have kindly declined hanging out with friends or attending events I would have enjoyed for the incessant feeling of needing to study. But I have also realized that I need this education to get to my next step. Which I think is grad school. No matter what it is I just need to get through, and I might as well give it my all, as I’m here, and I like to give things my all, if I commit to them, they deserve my 100%.
I received an e-mail from my brother yesterday. He is out of the country on a volunteer mission doing medical and dental relief. He ended his long e-mail with “How is school and life going for you? You have less than a month left, you better be working your ass off you sand-bagger, this is the final sprint!” He’s so right.

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