Yesterday I went to school with a stack of papers that have been awaiting signature a tad too long. My grad advisor is abroad, and the department head agreed to sign on her behalf.
In PSU’s urban campus, I am closest to myself. The old buildings, damp pedestrian crossings, cafe’s, human and automobile traffic-the fusion of idealism with realism. There, as my shoulder brushes against someone else’s with both of us maintaining our separation, I settle deeper into my own skin.
Entering Neuberger Hall, I noticed immediately how especially tense I was. Not only have I had my papers ready four stories ahead of time, I had them stretched out as if the papers were on fire and I was afraid for my safety.
What is it, I thought during the elevator ride? What is it about acquiring signatures that scares me? The more I thought about it, the greater proof I found on how formal signatures freaked me out: signing checks, credit card receipts, contracts, and now my graduation papers as well as bi-arrangement forms.
From Neuberger Hall down to Unitus, and up to Smith Memorial, my heart banged so hard against my chest. Whenever a paper was signed and approved, I felt exceptionally grateful as if the other person was doing me a favor-an illegal favor! There was a definite sense of guilt from my side, like foul play was going on, and someone was about to find out!
I could not make out why I feel how I feel about formal signatures? Could it be due to my cultural background. In high school, college, work, official gov’t quarters, signatures were always related to someone doing me a favor. Someone allowing me a privilege that I am not eligible for, but it came as an act of kindness. Could the vague and undefined relationship between me as a citizen and as a female and the authority be the cause of how fearful I am when signing or acquiring signatures?