You guys, the strangest thing has been happening lately. You know those moments; you’ll be walking to the library, or making lunch in your apartment, or sitting in class, and all of a sudden the rush of things you have to get done just washes over you and you can’t breathe for a second? Well lately, those thoughts occur to me and… I don’t freak out. Some rational part of my brain that has, apparently, been lying dormant until this point in my life intervenes. It nudges the neurotic parts and whispers, “…who cares? You know it’ll be fine, right?”
And my anxiety-prone brain listens! It’s the craziest thing, really.
I’m trying to figure out what’s changed (and whether it’s possible to bottle whatever chemical is released in my brain that calms me down and then sell it for millions of dollars). I think it’s a change in perspective.
This time a year ago, Hannah and I were probably the least relaxed that we’ve ever been. We averaged 3 and a half anxious fits a week and spent all of our waking hours either working/studying or complaining about working/studying. We were applying to study abroad, and completely freaking out about it. All of the weight of the world seemed to be contained on this mile-long campus and we felt it as if it were placed right on our shoulders.
(This is us in this thick of the most angsty of our semesters).
In the past year, my world has gotten a lot bigger. I left campus behind for a semester, saw more world than I ever thought possible, and found out that there’s still an incredible amount left to see. Looking back on how much I dreaded leaving my comfort zone of a school, I realized how important it was that I tore myself away. (Plus, I came back with a whole new appreciation for this place. I love you, campus.)
There’s also the thought of leaving, and graduating, and moving on. It feels like the blinders have been lifted. The impermanence of our last year has a calming effect.
The middle years of college were just so intense- because we were so in it, you know? We spent the first year jumping in, getting comfortable, building our niche. And we’re spending our last year coming out of it. But the middle years, we were locked in. The universe began and ended on this campus, and it made everything feel like the end of the world. Now that we know that there will be a life beyond this, it puts this life in perspective.
It allows us to see beyond this, beyond ourselves, beyond our midterms next week. Our freshman year, Hannah and I talked a lot of things out. (It’s one of our biggest coping mechanisms, I’d say. If ever we’re overwhelmed in a situation, we usually meet for lunch and talk about what it all means until life feels a little more manageable. Philosophical lunches, we call them.)
During our first fall at UNH, when we were trying to make sense of college, we deemed this campus a bubble. It’s an awesome bubble, probably the most fun bubble I’ve ever lived in, but it felt just a little bit removed from the rest of the world. You don’t really have to leave, if you don’t want to. There’s your classes, your best friends (who sort of double as your family), and food, and a gym, and a library, and your entire social life, all contained within this mile-long campus.
We were always aware of the bubble, because we knew this life was too awesome to be real.
Now we’re aware that the bubble is about to pop. Or at least, we’ve got one foot outside of it. One foot where we are, one foot where we’re going, as Hann put it. We’re applying to grad school and looking for jobs and realizing we only need to take two classes next semester in order to graduate.
It’s a lot of unknowns to deal with, but we’ve stared into the black hole before. We’ve felt this same anxiety before coming to college, and before getting on the plane to study abroad, and both times it’s turned out just fine. Better than fine, actually. Fine would be a spectacular understatement. Who’s to say we can’t make that happen again?
So I guess that’s what’s been happening to my brain lately. Unfortunately you can’t bottle perspective, or I’d be a millionaire by now.