Front and Center

The 20s are all about opening your eyes. The world is massive place and there's a seemingly infinite amount of things to do, places to see, and people to know. College is like a microcosm of the world at large and it's an opportunity to really branch out. The thing about is, you will only see what you allow yourself to see. Tunnel vision may keep you on a straight path where you'd like to go, but you miss out on what's around you which can and sometimes is more important. Take the side-blinders off, stop and observe what's right there. It's front and center.

This week has continued my personal journey into rejoining the world after a semester long descent into social hibernation and resentment. My experience on my college campus, just like everyone else, is a unique one. I would say mine even more so is uncanny in my unbelievable social identity. Walking around campus I decided to keep track of the number of people who greeted me. In one day it was just over 60 different people - like how is that possible. I don't think I'd really noticed it, at least not to this extent. It was like people were coming out in droves to say hey, stop and catch up, or sit down for a full conversation. I don't think I realized how much time I spend surrounded by people. It's actually uncanny. I must have seriously been disregarding those basic interactions as nothing more than common courtesy when in reality that's how most people show their affection and connect. I have to get out of my head and notice that people are choosing to be around me and there's a reason (regardless of if I see it). By Jove I think he's got it. People like me. (That's a weird statement if I've ever written one). Instead of my strict guidelines to what companionship looks like, I'm opening my eyes, ears, and heart to what's been front and center this entire time. This week I've relaxed my stringency and kind of have been going with the flow of just letting things happen and the results have been stunning.

Finals week is kind of like human hibernation. You get your books and you study, and that's that. Friendship - ain't nobody got time for that. Food becomes the least of your priorities but you have to leave your room sometime. How is possible I hadn't noticed this craziness until now? I went to dinner with my roommate Jake, second time all semester, but it was a lighthearted good time. I went to the library afterwards with my fraternity brother Connor and hit the books hard to prep for my physics exam (who knows how I did on that wretched thing). Another day I did dinner with Sam and Tina, the latter which I had an inkling but confirmed that we might be the same person at least when it comes to friend roles (explained at the bottom). It was honestly so refreshing to find a kindred spirit and someone who understand my struggles to figure out where I fit socially. I got a scare hug (aka sneaking up on me and invading my personal space bubble) from my buddy Christian (let it be known there are a select few people who could get away with such a thing). I took some time to rant about social justice with my friend Aya and the blatant invalidation of experiences from certain privileged identities (cough *middle class people) with their classism (because skiing/snowboarding doesn't require some access to resources or isn't self-selecting/exclusive). I went to lunch with some of the people from RHA at the top of the administrative building as a last minute goodbye and it was a grand ole time. I took the bus back with Sam's successor (alas she's take a recurring character role in this life story known as my blog as she's studying abroad in London) Sam (from now on if I mention a Sam, it'll most likely be this guy) and had a good conversation - excited to get to know him better. I went to another dinner with my floor, almost all first years, and come to find out they may or may not be obsessed with me. Apparently, I stay slaying them with my posts on my facebook. All this time I didn't even think they knew my name. It was probably the highlight of my week, being totally out of my element with new people but enjoying myself nonetheless. I went to sign my lease (uh-oh, big boy alert) to live with my fraternity brother, Zach, next year and got to see my big brother, Gabe, and the gives none hilarity that is Dom. Hung out there for a bit, stopped by the front desk of my building to see my friend Tyler (probably one my favorite people, to be honest - he has a kind soul). I spent my last night in Vermont packing and cleaning up before hitting breakfast with Sam and saying our goodbyes. I'll miss her, but she has to go - I'm sure it'll be a life changing experience for her. Now I'm left, front and center to carry on.

When you're front and center there's an unwritten rule that means you've got to be on at all times. I'm talking like BeyoncĂ© (speaking of Queen B - random album release cause NBD) slaying the national anthem at President Obama's inauguration on. Everyone has a story to share but sometimes articulating it can be difficult. Some people are masterful storytellers. This semester in general but more specifically this week, I've come to understand that. I think people like me for that reason. My ability to weave a colorfully engaging story quilt makes me the unofficial grand-daddy (like Bob Barker status - yo, the dude is 90 and still making moves, and nudering dogs #shade) loom master. There's moments when all eyes are on me and I'm just talking about the random things I see and hear and happen to me. My life really isn't that interesting (say the guy who publishes his life in a blog), I'm just pretty good (if I'm saying so myself)  with words. Everyone is listening intently, either waiting for the punchline/climax delivery or even a truly touching personal story that pulls that your heart strings. I feel like an entertainer and I think people unconsciously expect me to liven things up and break the ice. Maybe I've come to put that role on myself (Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari and Chris Delia have nothing on me #jokes). The thing I try, and I mean actually make a conscious effort to share the air space. I can talk, we all know that, but makes me so enchanting? Maybe it's the quirky slang, purposeful intonation, uncanny knack for timing my scratchy voice? I play to the crowd and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at it. The flipside of that could be I just am talking about myself all the time, and people are only listening because I'm monopolizing the atmosphere. The thing is I truly love hearing other people speak. It's exciting or moving when someone let's the attention fall on them and speaks about themselves. People don't do it enough, and some of us do too much (looks around and points to self). Nowadays being front and center has taken on  a whole new meaning for me. I use my voice to not only let but get others to speak. We all deserve to be heard. People just need to be give the opportunity (not everyone wants to take it for themselves). When we step back and create a comfortable environment, you never know much people will surprise you.

Friend Role - "Thoughtful Friend" - fiercely loyal - almost to a fault; constant worrier; tries to fix everything and everyone (pretty good at it too); good at: listening - giving advice, standing up with/for a friend, planning activities, gifts; gets annoyed with: lack of appreciation; always initiating socializing; invalidation - needs thank you's

That description is literally my existence. I wonder if I take a different role with any of my friends that different than that one? Am I incapable of being the "Adventurous Friend"? I'm fun but in my own way, but spend most of my time supporting other people, and when I do do anything it's planned  which has it's limitations. Wait, and am I actually super boring? Dun dun duh ... To Be Continued

The 20s are all about all about coming to realizations. College is more than just a place to take classes, get a degree and (hopefully) find a job. College is where you the seemingly inherent truth of your ideas are challenged, where stereotypes are broken, and where you're tasked with leaving your comfort zone. Our experiences truly are determined by the attitude we bring to them. It's up to us to lighten up, take a load off, and look around. When you do so, you may see more than you could have ever imagined. It's all just front and center.

My blog post question for the day is ... what kind of person are you? According to those online quizzes, I've gone from introvert to extrovert and I just don't understand it. Anyone?

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