I’ve always been someone comfortable with change; I thrive in new environments and gladly accept challenges related to thrusting my comfort blanket aside and facing newness with determination and poise. Throughout school, I was antsy for August to end and the new school year to begin. The possibilities that came with each new grade were endless from new folders to new classmates to new teachers to new learning opportunities. Similarly, I always enjoyed rearranging my bedroom. My tiny 9-year-old self could be found pushing my full-sized bed across my bedroom and nailing photos into clean walls on any regular Saturday morning. I even had a reversible comforter that could spark my creativity and ignite a serious level of variability into my daily life…
Yesterday marked my first run in exactly 4 weeks. If you know me, you know I like to run. Running has been my escape from the responsibilities of life ever since that first day of college. No longer a member of a team sport, I was forced to find another way to exercise and so I turned to running. From leisurely Sunday runs with my dad when I’m home to finishing the challenge of a half-marathon, I have had numerous fabulous experiences with running. So when I self-diagnosed myself with IT band syndrome last month after feeling some minor knee irritations, then waking up one morning with excruciating pains and being unable to walk without a limp that had me looking like an 80-year-old woman, I was devastated. The next week (after stretching and icing my knee to a point in which I could walk normally) I climbed onto the stationary bike with a feeling of both spite and dread.
I had met a change that I wasn’t ready to face with anything close to poise.
Over the past four weeks, I have realized that changes aren’t always going to be as exciting as they were when I was moving to a classroom down the hall in elementary school or rearranging a few lamps in my bedroom. Sometimes, they’re going to hurt. They might require shifting how I go about my daily life in a way that initially seems like an annoyance. They might require training myself to rethink about how I do the seemingly simplest of tasks – like keeping my body healthy.
The next 8 months of my life may include the biggest changes I’ve ever experienced. College was a big one, but that’s different because I had gone to the same school for 9 years and was desperate to get away. This time, I’m not really dying to go anywhere. Yet, I’m leaving.
For the first time in my life, I’ll no longer be living at home this summer. I’ve accepted an internship with Sharecare, Inc. – an online healthcare platform – in Atlanta, GA for the summer. I’ll be living with a friend from Vanderbilt and won’t get to come home to the familiar smell of roasted broccoli or the playful barking of my furry pugs each day. The realization that I’ll probably never live in Easton again is something that scares me to a certain degree. Of course, I am exhilarated by the prospect of opportunity outside of my tiny town, but I was born in the Easton Memorial Hospital and have lived there for my entire existence. I know that leaving means I’m leaving a part of me behind, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to let go of that part of myself quite yet.
On another note, I am moving to Barcelona, Spain at the end of August (!!!). For four months I will be required to only speak Spanish in my five classes, as well as in social settings. Studying in Spain has been a dream of mine since reading the Students Across the Seven Seas (S.A.S.S.) series as a middle schooler, and I am positive it will be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I definitely have the travel bug, and being situated in Europe will only fuel that burning desire. However, I’m wary of how different it will be. Rumors of “culture shock” and “a different way of life” have me wondering about how those first weeks of adaptation will be. Will it be interesting and thrilling, or will it be frustrating and difficult?
The remainder of 2016 will offer some of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. From my first real job in a new city to my first true cultural immersion abroad, I will be living life to the absolute fullest. Part of me wishes I could pause time (yes, in the middle of finals week) so that I can bask in this state of exciting anticipation forever. I’m already worried that time will pass too quickly and I’ll be here, sitting in my Vanderbilt dorm in the spring of 2017, all too soon. But in the deepest parts of my mind, I’m thinking about the looming change and strategizing how to face it.
Regarding yesterday’s run, it was great to be back in the familiar environment of the track. But at the same time, a part of me missed the bike…