Farewell Column: Heart on my sleeve

Bret Belden

Wow. Four years here and I feel the same as I did leaving high school. Yet, so much has changed – in my life and in my own personality.

I think many of us are so relieved to finish high school that, like Buffy, we think, “We saved the world. I say we party.” Of course, we’re only referring to our own personal worlds. It feels so huge to finally be officially an alumnus of something – and weird.

Okay, I didn’t party as much in college as a lot of other people did, but I definitely partied more than I did in high school: which was zero. Honestly, college was a breath of fresh air when I started because I was so exhausted from non-stop AP homework and all day classes, besides a part-time job that I really didn’t like. At UNH, I had two part-time jobs I did enjoy and breaks between classes. It got pretty stressful again after all those years, but I still have more de-stress time than I used to.

Now that I’m about to leave college, I feel more like, in Buffy’s words, “I’m standing on the mouth of Hell and it is gonna swallow me whole.” Maybe I’m more ready than I think, but since I’m still searching for a job, let alone for an apartment, I’m pretty much in “Yikes!”-mode.

So yes, I do rely on music lyrics, book, movie and television quotes to handle life. That’s how I survive it. I’m not delusional though; I know that not everything you read or watch on TV is real. However, there’s a lot of inspiration and wisdom to be found there, so that’s what I take from them. A lot of the time, wisdom is knowing when to laugh at life and myself. A healthy sense of humor is very important in life. Joss Whedon is really good at that – and at teaching me how to do it too.

I’ve been known to wear my heart on my sleeve. A lot of people I know make fun of me for that or tell me that it isn’t practical. It isn’t practical, but I still think they’re wrong that it’s bad. Vulnerability isn’t bad. Naïveté isn’t bad, it’s just sad when we lose it. Then we get jaded and bitter, so we hurt others when they’re naïve in the way that we no longer can be. One of the most important lessons from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a narration, done in the voice of the character Angel – but shown throughout the episode by Buffy herself. Here goes,  “Passion…it lies in all of us. Sleeping, waiting, and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us, guides us… passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments; the joy of love, the clarity of hatred and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d truly know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank… without passion, we’d truly be dead.”