New Normal

The 20s are all about embracing change. Other than ourselves changes the one constant thing in our lives. Change comes whether we like it or not. Sometimes it's for better and other times it's for worse, but it comes nonetheless. Change doesn't ask you to do it work but it does ask you to come along for the ride. Change happens with or without your permission. Change is whatever you make of it, so make it work for you. Everything changes. This is your new normal.

This year absolutely everything has changed. C.S. Lewis said it best, "Things never happen the same way twice," and boy was he right. Every year of my college experience has been drastically different. The one consistent thing is that I've never ever felt settled in both who I was and who my friends were. This year that has been true a certain extent with my friendships still in flux, but I know who I am for once. I know who I am not. I know what is right for me. It is the most empowering thing I have ever felt. This new normal is too damn good. I knew that 2014 was going to be a year to remember (as they all are) but this particular year has provided many a surprise, challenged me in ways I never could have expected, and changed my perspectives on various things. I've had to grow and adapt to big changes and now they come left and right. It's not the little things anymore; these things have gravitas. Things are getting real. The stakes have been raised. The bets have been placed. It's time to cash out. This is my new normal.

The people that occupy my life are drastically different than any other year. It's unbelievable how many people that come in and out of my life, but even more so the people that have permanently departed. I thought I had a handle on who was going to be a keeper but this year proved that maybe I'll never know, and I'm okay with that. If I forge ahead without some people, if they are meant to stay with me, they'll catch up. I think most of all what has changed in me is being okay with just being there for other people and not expecting them to do the same. I realized that I don't necessarily need other people to talk to hash out what goes in my head, the things I deal with, and what worries me. Now more than ever this blog is that outlook. I stopped feeling underappreciated and overlooked and started being grateful for being able to have a memorable impact on people's lives. I get to be an everyday superhero, and yeah it can be lonely at times but I'm okay, scratch that, I'm better than okay. I'm doing really well. I'm not just surviving, but I'm thriving. I'm the best version of me. I'm putting my trust in myself and adjusting to that being the new normal.

The new normal this semester has included many an opportunity to do things out of the ordinary. I'm meeting different people, being more spontaneous, and finding that I'm more capable of doing the things that have always scared me that I had ever realized. Let me catch you up on the latest happenings in my jam packed life. Last Monday I served on a "Major Decisions" panel which actually was pretty cool to be able to convey the story of me coming to religion. Met some first years that I definitely hope to be connected to in the near future. From there I had my first 1in4 Men's Education Program presentation which had me shaking nervously but I performed well. I was confident, clear, and engaging. The topic of sexual assault is heavy but it's been so good to be part of doing some important work with advocacy  and education. Also the men I get to present with somehow have become another rag-tag band of brothers that I get to be part of. I've found my place with them and distinctly connected most with Shawn, Zander, Taylor, and Elliot, but enjoy the company of them all. My new normal includes a vastly expanded cast of characters to interact with.
 
The next morning I was up early to help facilitate a space in which novelist Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie made an appearance in. I was shaking with nervousness, beaming with smiles, and jittery with joy to be able to speak with her. It was a rainy day but nothing could get me down. My new normal includes happiness, genuine uplifting happiness on the regular. I was invited to go to lunch with her and some great others, especially my friend Sonia who shared some powerful personal stories as well. Wednesday came and that had me tabling for my fraternity and asking people to conscious of their costume choices in not patronizing a culture. I worked on an anti-sexual assault pledge with the other IFC executives and hit a dining contract meeting. I had dinner with some of my favorite people, Henry and Benjy. We broed out going hard with chicken wings and just taking a breaking from life. It was way too good. My new normal has meant normalized hangouts on a weekly basis.
 
Thursday came up way too fast and I started my morning but attending the investiture of Major Jackson, a renowned poet, and English professor. I connected with the grandchildren of the man who sponsored the endowment who live uncannily similar lives of being African-American, heavily involved, and attending a pre-dominantly white institution. That was the fourth or so time that week that a faculty or administrator had mentioned being a journalist prior to their current position as well which I interpreted as definite signage for my post-graduate plans. I even was able to catch up with the university president and his lovely wife who invited me over for dinner! I shot another episode of my TV show - check out the first one here - #NoFilter Series Premiere before heading off to my classes for the day. I made the journey downtown to the post office to retrieve some packages and the trip was definitely an adventure. I cooked dinner, enjoyed YouTube videos, and catching with my friends from my first year, Dzenan, Kyle, and Sam. It's unreal to look back and see how far we've come and to realize that we're about to graduate too. Our new normal is going to be joining the real world soon enough.
 
Friday was Halloween and after class I partook in a research study on racism and sexism on my campus. My other class was cancelled for the day so I went home in the early afternoon. Evening fell and that had me going to a showing of Dear White People with Sam. The movie was worth watching. It was poignant, self-aware, and way too relatable. Content-wise I was surprised because it was not what I had expected after spending a year building it up in my head, but it did not disappoint. It prompted discussion and real self-reflection. If anything it got people talking about race, and even more diversified blackness in a way that has been so necessary especially with this nonsensical "post-racial America" crap. There was a facilitated talk afterwards and I spoke about the ultimate privilege of a dominant identity as being able to be an individual in respect to it. I was so nervous, flustered, and fired up but I knew I had to say something. I couldn't just be silent. My new normal includes me pushing away my inhibitions, and taking it there.

Guess there was a lot to relay to you in this post, but I've been living the busy life. Saturday  was my day of academia. I hit the books hard in writing 7/10 single-spaced pages for my senior research paper on blindness in the gospels. I was sequestered in my room and cut off from the outside world for a solid 8 hours straight that reminded me that I was still able to do such things when I needed to. My old roommate Patrick, Sam and I hit McDonald's after a failed attempt at retrieving Chipotle in a timely manner before the all-male a capella group, the Top Cats' Halloween Show. Secretly I just really want to be able to sing. Those dude can belt out tunes like nobody's business. We all have our talents, that's for sure. That brings me to Sunday with the Delta Upsilon, a new fraternity on campus, and their colonization ceremony. I really clicked with their national representatives who have been doing a phenomenal job in bringing back their chapter on my campus. It was so good to support some like-minded guys on their quest to lifelong friendship and fraternity. I had a late lunch/early dinner with one of my little brothers, Tanner, at Panera which was a long overdue catchup session. Made it through fraternity related meetings, including an extended elections meeting that shook things up. The night ended with a trip to Five Guys with Dom and Zach, before watching How to Get Away with Murder (the show is everything and more). My week finished with the announcement that my niece, Quinn, had been born.

I just cried tears of joy. I couldn't stop smiling. My heart felt love instantaneously. My new normal now includes a new family member and for that I am truly grateful.

My blog post question for the day is ... what is different for you this year? The crew as you can tell has changed to be almost unrecognizable. Some old faces have been making reappearances while others are fresh on the scene. Either way, I'm loving it.

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