Adapt, Overcome, Succeed
It was only about a week ago that I said goodbye to my entire hometown for at least the next four months. Growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, the journey to college hours away in New England was a radical change of scenery. It felt that all I had to ever love, hate, and everything in between was going to dissipate into a past of inconsequentiality. More than feeling like a new life, it rather felt like a dismissal of a past history of comfort, of a place that I understood and wasn’t shadowed in ambiguity.
With the start of the new school year, whether you are venturing off to college or even just continuing in the same institution, it’s often normal that we feel some sort of fresh beginning, that we hit a reset on a clock that is ourselves and what surrounds us. I know I did as I opened up the door to the cramped dorm room I’d be living in for the unforeseen future. While for many of us this can feel like a fresh and welcomed opportunity, it can be equally bittersweet as our normalcy is now altered upon a path untraveled. A past of memories means the goodbyes become difficult as the attachment you’ve bonded can feel severed by the separation. However, it’s become apparent to me that new beginnings don’t necessarily have to call for the finality of the things we love and appreciate. We can instead be fully focused on what is ahead and be comfortable with ourselves while not letting go of the past. With that being said, I hope this article can shine some light on what change really means, and how we can better confront those feelings that arise with a new beginning. Life persists on, and we must keep up with its ever caprice nature.
Onto the Next Mountain
“When do you get to be happy?”
It seems like such an odd question, because we largely don’t think of emotions having strict boundaries and time restraints. Maybe the better question is, “When do you get to be satisfied?”
For many of us, satisfaction comes with every checkpoint we accomplish and then swiftly departs as we set our eyes on the next prize. First you tell yourself satisfaction will come with a good SAT score, and then when you become club president, and then when you finish all your college applications, and then when you get into your dream school. Trust me, I’ve experienced the seemingly never-ending carousel of “One-more-thing and then I’ll be satisfied.” Fast forward to today and I’m at the university I worked so hard to attend, am I forever satisfied with my life? No, of course not. Life progresses forward each day, and no one accomplishment will satisfy someone for eternity.
The essential point that I’m trying to make is that our expectations and situations are never static, that we must derive our satisfaction in a continual manner rather than through rigid accomplishments. I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression, “Love your work,” or something along those lines, but I think statements like that make it seem like work is a separate tangent of your life. What I really think that the sentiment is trying to convey is the sense of present-ness that comes with enjoying the little moments that are currently happening. Concerns about the past and future are completely valid, but letting them consume and corrupt the present is when this worrying becomes problematic. By the same token, it is also reassuring to know that you aren’t alone in these feelings of anxiety. For many of us, we forget that what we experience and feel is largely ubiquitous. Those first day jitters of college I realized were something that everyone around me was experiencing, and knowing that made it a lot less stressful to go up and introduce myself. It’s those emotions that connect us as a community, and it’s imperative that we be mindful and take notice that we’re not isolated in adjusting to a new normal.
Your Best Friend (Surprise: It’s You!)
“I wonder if you have people like that in your life, people whose love keeps you going though they are distant now because of time and geography and everything else that comes between us.” Often, one of the many reasons change is so hard is because the people you treasured the most will now be separated in some sense. While I can’t speak against the beauty of intimate connections, I can say that even if you’re not in perpetual contact with someone that doesn’t mean their existence has no impact on your present self. The memories and lessons you exchanged shape you as a person, and they’ll live dearly in that person you become.
Likewise, the one person that will never leave your side no matter what is: you! It’s hard to trust in the future because the future is inexplicably dynamic and impossible to predict, but trusting in yourself to respond to whatever you may face is something that can be conjured. It’s once you begin to question what comes after the present, that you begin spiraling down a list of unanswerable questions, that you have lost trust. Be thoughtful of what is currently around you, and take everyday as a gift. Change is inevitable, but how we react isn’t.