Sojourner

Truth - Being on your own can be absolutely mortifying but it's one of the most satisfying things you have to do in life. Every single day leaves things up to you to choose. With no one else around, you ask yourself in those moments who you are and especially now that no one else is watching. What kind of individual do you want to be? What's the impact you want to make in your communities? What do you look like in these changing contexts. Things never stop changing, all of it is temporary but that time is all important nonetheless. Call me a sojourner. 

 "People change and forget to tell one another" Unknown

Does anyone else talk to themselves or is that just me? The past few days, at least for me, have been nothing short of chaotic. I don't think I have ever been so scared in my entire life. Context - I moved to Cleveland for graduate school. From the outside though, everything looks perfectly fine but in all honesty, I have never felt so out of place, disconnected, or unsure like I do now. What irks me most is that I knew I'm okay. I know that everything is going to be fine. I'm aware that I'm just nervous, anxious, and afraid because everything about this experience is new in addition to I'm alone for the first time in my entire life. I've never had a job before, or the responsibility of a car let alone myself with no one to check on me/rely on. It's all the novelty hitting me at once. It's manageable but to me it feels like in this constant panic mode. Everything feels like a big deal. Everywhere and everyone is new. I don't know who to trust. I don't know what normal here. I don't know who I'm supposed to be here. The irony of all of this is that this exactly what the students feel in coming to college (and what anyone feels in a new environment). I'm going through what I'm going to be learning about. My saving grace has been knowing that in reality all the things I'm feeling are perfectly fine, that people are just a call/text away, and most of all that time changes everything. That's the best part about being a sojourner. 

That word sojourner means to stay somewhere temporarily. It's so relevant. I'm here for two years studying higher education and student affairs before moving on to another insitution. This is my chosen career path. This is how it's going to be every so often - moving from place to place. It's my first time and I'm working on processing all these feelings of helplessness, confusion, and mortal fear. Everywhere I turn there are people. I've never lived in city before and the rules are different here. People don't say hi here. They don't smile back awkwardly when you accidentally make eye contact. They cross the street as they please, expect you to always have quarters to parallel park into tiny spots, and lay on their horns like it's their day job. As someone who takes everything to heart with this gift/curse of empathy - it's all too much. I just want to turn it off and stop feeling everything all the time, all at once. All around I see people who are all so different but they walk past one another as if they're not there. I see you, do you not see me. The divisions of socioeconomic class, race, and sexuality are so apparent. Areas of gentrification, racialized boundaries, and restricted outlets of self expression abound. Everyone I see I want to know about. What is your story? Why are you who you are? What gift have you been given to contribute to the world and how do you use it? All of these thoughts go through me head as I'm listening to my navigation system direct me, adjusting mirrors, and watching out for jaywalkers. This is my new life. 
Is this real life? Is this how life is always going to be for me? Is this my truth? Will I  always wonder about the people of the world? Maybe it's a good thing. It definitely affects the way I interact with people always. Even when faced with cross short-tempered people I remember to speak with genuine compassion in my voice and mean it. What must be going on for other people for them to be so out of it. I know what's going on in my head and it's perpetual catastrophe, I bet others have so much to think about too. I guess what's both scary but also has been empowering for me has been the constant reminder that I have to do this, not even just I can do this. If things don't get done no one else will do them. I have to be so much more conscious and the world is different than when I last really had a good look at it. I'm an adult but what I have realized is that I get to and must be that (whatever that is) my own way. I'm not the person I used to be. I'm also not the person I will be. I'm me, here and now, and that's good enough. I'm going to make mistakes, be a mess, and be confused. I'm also going to figure things out and get to know this upgraded version of me that adults regularly. 

The hardest part for me has been my changing relationships. I can see how other people have changed but am unable to see the differences in myself. It's funny to see who I still talk to and those who reach out to me. It's changed, drastically. Even those best friends have changed into updated versions of themselves, neither better not worse, just different. I think I will always struggle with friends and knowing if they are in it for the long haul. Everything changes and that includes friendships. Nothing prepares you for it. I caught up with old friends before I left home. My friend Maddie who I hadn't seen in just about four years gave me some obvious perspectives, everyone but me has always seen my potential, my power, and my passion. Seeing my best friend Chelsea helped me remember to take care of myself, know my surroundings, and to be honest as often as possible. Others have been nowhere to be found and that's disheartening but still others have stepped in to be who I need them to be. My old roommate Zach is my go to friend who gets my unfiltered panics. I find myself still smiling every time I get a snap or text and getting to have those worthwhile life conversations with kiddo Connor, Cam, and new Cam. And my family, stronger than ever. The day I left I saw all four of my siblings, and my parents. I get to carry them all with me daily and often feel their thoughts, prayers, and love for me when I need it most. My sister especially is my refuge and sharing a parallel experience with her starting college in a few weeks is comforting. I know these adjustment periods are temporary but you really contemplate sometimes if they'll last forever. 
This big move has been good for me in ways that I don't fully understand yet. In working to get a parking pass, navigate a place I've never been, and set up a new life I've found I can do things I never thought possible. I'm more resourceful than I thought. And big shocker, I'm still me. There's wasn't a big transformation overnight. Striking out on my own will challenge me in so many ways. It's going to be hardest thing I've ever done but that last part means I'll actually have done it too. Wish me good luck and scare your worries with me in the comments. Writing this also let's me know that I have to make time to blog. If don't write it out, I can't figure it out. X

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