RFM Essentials: Back to School Reflections + What I’ve Learned So Far
Is it just me, or does anyone else sometimes feel like they’re just floating through space and doing life without really experiencing it? Like you can’t quite comprehend what’s happening or what you’re feeling although you know it’s all there?
Yeah, me too. Sometimes this feeling passes in a day but this time around, it’s been with me for weeks. It’s been uncomfortable and scary, but I just kept telling myself that it would leave soon and I’d be back to myself in no time.
Finally, I have found the voice for all that I’ve been feeling. I’ve pushed through the muck and found clarity and can FINALLY begin to blog again and do all the normal Hannah things in my life. Can I get a hallelujah?!
The air is gently beginning to cool, the people have returned to the city, and a chance for another fresh start is presenting itself. With fall classes rolling around and freshmen crowding the streets, all I can think about is where I’ve been and how far I’ve come in the past two years of my college experience. It amazes me how fast time seems to fly, reminding me that if we don’t stop and enjoy the moment, we’ll certainly miss it.
I remember moving into my dorm room, seeing the excitement and terror on my parent’s faces as they said goodbye to life as they knew it and said hello to empty-nesthood. I remember my confidence in myself and my excitement to finally get out of my hometown and start living life on my own terms. The first year was a whirlwind of emotion and I definitely got lost in the unfamiliarity of everything around me and all the uncertainty that accompanied it.
When life as you know it and always have known it takes a 180-degree turn, it’s only normal to become reactive. As humans, it is nearly impossible to handle such stress in a healthy manner because we are not taught these coping mechanisms and if we haven’t experienced them before, we have nothing to draw from in the past. It’s okay, and it’s normal: just accept these times as they come and meet yourself where you are without judgement.
For me, the first year was one of trial and error: I’d spend time with certain people who I didn’t really connect with just to feel like I fit in somewhere. I wanted so badly to find where I belonged that I kind of sacrificed parts of my true self to accomplish that goal. I couldn’t recognize that piece of the puzzle, but I did realize I was unfulfilled in my relationships and what I was doing and that something had to change.
I’ve always been a Type-A kinda girl, but I began to feel purposeless and unsure during and after my freshman year: I felt like I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing, though I knew where I wanted to be. And let me tell ya, that ish is scary and it WILL happen. But when it does, you have to look inside yourself, get real, and decide what actionable steps you can take in the right direction to change your situation.
Between my first and second years, I took my first trip outside the country and returned with a whole lot of free time and a house to myself in a new city. For the first time in my life, I could truly live on my own terms and I think the idea of that scared the heck out of me. With my go-go-go personality, I always have a compulsive feeling that I need to be doing something or else I’m just wasting my time. Yet the most important lesson I learned that summer is that some of the best things you can do to grow is just be with yourself, do less, and feel more.
I started taking a lot of yoga classes, meditating daily, and reading in my free time; things I had all done before, yes, but this time I made it intentional and got serious about the why. I’d go out on my own and explore the city on bike, on foot, or in the car. I’d observe, be, and a lot of times, I’d feel uncomfortable with being alone. And that’s okay. You have to spend the time and effort sitting with your discomfort and unfamiliarity before it becomes a part of you, and I think this is one of the keys to remember when trying to solidify who you truly are, not who people want you to be.
With my friends in a different place, I was forced to get comfortable with myself and create a home where I was rather than what I had been familiar with in the past. Sure, it may not have been the most exciting summer, but it was absolutely essential to my self-discovery; many times, the less exciting parts of our lives tend to have the greatest lessons embedded in them.
Yesterday I started my junior year of college and at this point in my life, I finally feel as if I’m right where I need to be. There’s a lot of feelings I’m experiencing that can’t necessarily be put into words, but all I know is they are so strikingly different from those I was feeling two years ago.
I walk around campus feeling at peace for lack of a better word, recognizing faces wherever I go, and knowing that there are people out there who love and support me as I love and support myself. I do what I need to for my own happiness, socialize when I need people around me, and keep to myself when I need a break from the noise. I know that there is a time and place for each of these things and respect how I feel on a day-to-day basis, as I know every day will bring something different. I’ve found what works for me and that may not work for you, but I encourage you to do the self-exploration to find your own niche; I PROMISE it’s worth it.
By no means do I have it all figured out and I will happily admit that until the end. All I’m saying is it feels dang good to be solid in who I am and what I’m doing. It took me years of hard work and not-so-great experiences to get to where I am today, and the main takeaway is that it is OKAY to give yourself credit where it’s due and to be proud of your accomplishments. In today’s society I think we put ourselves down and get vulnerable as a means of connection, which is fine, but we far undervalue the power of owning up to our achievements. It’s okay to admit you’re freaking awesome, because you are. Own that ish.
I’ve finally stopped apologizing for who I am and it feels so darn good. I won’t be sorry for being myself because I know what I have to offer and if that doesn’t resonate with someone, I respect that but I will not change because of it. In this season of life, I am wholeheartedly enjoying this experience as it comes to me and accepting myself as I grow and change into the person I was meant to be. I refuse to tone myself down or repress parts of me in order to be right for other people because if they’re not willing to accept me as I am, they’re not worth my time in the first place. Take me as I am or watch me as I leave, am I right?
No matter where you are in your journey in life, I write this post as a reminder that everything will be okay. The main thing I’ve learned in these (almost) twenty years of my life is that we as humans share the same experience and when we can realize this, the world feels a lot less lonely and a lot more connected. Whether you’re on chapter 1 or 200, there is always somebody else in the exact same spot as you and when you can realize this and find people to share your experience, the world opens up in a whole new way.
What I’m basically trying to say is that life is a wonderful thing and we are so lucky to all be living this experience together. I think we need to embrace whatever is happening to us at this point in time, good or bad, and make the most of it. Even when the worst case scenario occurs, it’s never really as bad as we make it out to be. Let’s start growing more, loving more, and living more: we deserve it, after all!