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endings

The last blog post of the semester. Before you read on, I would highly, highly recommend you listen to this song, which the title of my post is derived from. For one, because it’s so beautiful, I think, and two, because things will make more sense if you do. I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, thinking, singing along, crying. Wondering why I’m here, where I’m meant to go, who I’m supposed to be. And if I’m anywhere close to those things.

“You had to find it…”

I guess you could say that’s what this year has been all about for me: finding myself. Finding myself, and, as of late, being not just okay, but proud of the girl I find. I found myself at the beginning of the year through running again, training for my second half marathon. I found myself on those Long Slow Runs (oh, how I long to be up to running for two hours, nonstop again! The thinking I could accomplish! The (legal, running-induced) high I would get!): I discovered a girl with chafe marks in weird places, a purple toenail (oh, how I long for it to turn that color again! The mark of a real runner!), blisters, and a pretty mean appetite for homemade chocolate chip cookies. I loved that girl. But then, after the race, I kind of sank into a funk. I stopped running. I let dietetics stress take over my life and my fire was put out. I didn’t sweat in the morning but slept instead. So, over winter break, I found myself sad and anxious. Like to the point of stress-vom anxious. Unhappy with myself and the fact that I took the easy way out.

“To recreate us…”

Then, to make my nausea worse, I decided to make the Big Change. I wasn’t happy in dietetics. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but I knew it wasn’t me. So I decided to give in to that tiny voice in my heart and run with it. For weeks I cried and worried and wondered if I had made the stupidest decision of my life. At midnight, the night after I changed my major, I emailed my old advisor asking if I could go back to dietetics. But I held on through the uncertainties and didn’t go back, instead staying true to that voice as I tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I kept moving forward.

Enter the Lenten season. I was done at this point. Done with making excuses for not running. For not talking to people. For being so hateful to myself and unable to accept whom I was. For eating more than I probably should for somebody not running. And during the course of those forty days, the same messages kept coming up: I needed to stop selling myself short. I knew I was better than the girl I was pretending to be. I knew the Real Me was buried somewhere under the fears and anxieties. So I made it my mission to recreate myself, to unearth that girl.

“All things grow, all things grow…”

I started running again. Not only did I start running again, but I took things a little further. I started running with a group of strangers, even though I was scared to. And slowly, I’m beginning to see flashes of the Real Me, every time I hit the road again: I feel stronger. I feel happy. I feel like a Real Runner. But most of all, I feel happy, ridiculously happy. Happy to be blessed with such a full life, with legs that can carry me as far as I want. Happy to be, well…me. Nobody else but me.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, in my mind…”

Spoiler alert: I’m not perfect. I eat too many cookies (although, I have modified them enough and last weekend successfully made them vegan. BAM.), I skip runs, I cry a lot, I prefer wearing my brother’s really old super ugly sweatpants from who knows when over jeans (my mom HATES that I do this), I’m a little too honest on this blog (however, it is free of grammatical errors, so I have that going for me), and I get scared to try new things and meet new people. Sometimes, like this winter, I find myself in a rut. But I’ve discovered this year that my imperfections and my ruts that I find myself in are the best gifts in the world, in a way. They force me to question myself, to really grow and become who I’m supposed to be. The unhappiness I’ve faced this semester has led me down paths that I am so grateful to have gone down: I’ve discovered comfort through running far, my unhappiness in my major led me to switch, my unhappiness with who I’ve been throughout my college career has led me to ask myself if I’m really living up to my full potential, and if I really give myself enough credit for the person I am and the things I’m capable of doing.

While I know what I want to be when I grow up now (!!! So happy), I still have lots of questions. Where will I live? Vermont? Boulder? Denver? Oregon? Washington? Or will I stay here? Am I selling myself short by staying here, when I know how badly I long to be somewhere open and natural that makes me feel full, as nature tends to do? These are the questions that have been plaguing me these past few days for some reason. What do I really want out of the life and the potential that stretches before me as I come to the close of yet another chapter in my undergraduate education? What does the Real Me wish for? And will I have the courage, like I did in making the Big Change, to stay true to the Real Me and follow her desires, no matter how scared I might be to do so?

I wish I knew how to un-awkwardly close this big, thoughtful post. But I don’t. All I can say is that I’m grateful for this year: for the ups and for the downs. For the tears, for the gigantic smiles, for the questions, for the answers. For revealing to me, in the weirdest ways, the girl I’m supposed to be.

And for helping me to finally realize just how much I love her.

“All things go, all things go.”

-Carly

“Chicago [Acoustic]” by Sufjan Stevens

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I’ve heard that our sense of smell has the power to bring up certain memories: your favorite perfume, for example, may bring back memories of a certain first date. While this certainly holds true, another one of my senses possesses the unique ability to pull me back into the past: my hearing. When I play a particular song that I was obsessed with during a critical point in my life, I’m instantly transported back to those days and the emotions I was feeling. With all of this weighing down my mind (along with random nutrition facts and chemistry tidbits that I’ve been dutifully studying for this week), I decided the best way to sum up my very first year of college was a list I’ve comprised of a few of my favorite albums this year (I even included a link to my favorite song from each one!).

  1. XX- the XX
  2. No Color- The Dodos
  3. The Age of Adz- Sufjan Stevens
  4. The Orchard- Ra Ra Riot
  5. Champ- Tokyo Police Club

…I could keep going. If I had to choose my absolute favorite song from an album off of this list, it would probably be “Keep It Quiet” by Ra Ra Riot. This song helped me get through the difficult transitions this year, and let’s face it, the whole transition into college was a lot more difficult for me than I thought it would be. I thought I was ready to leave home! What I didn’t think, however, was that I would change as significantly as I have. I know I’m getting all cliché here, but it’s the truth.

In my honors rhetoric class this semester, we studied fan cultures. One of the essays we read was about textual poaching—the idea that fans will take a work and turn it into something they can relate to. So forgive me as I attempt to textual poach Ra Ra Riot’s lyrics here:

“How can I want to stay around…?”

My interpretation of this line: I’ve changed a lot this year. And while it makes me feel uncertain in some ways, I know there’s no turning back to who I was in high school and the life I had back then. When I go back home for a few months, surrounded by all of the memories of who I was, how could I possibly want to go back to that; to stay who I was? Does that make sense? Maybe not to you, but for me, this song and this line have soothed me in the times I’ve felt most afraid of change, gently nudging me on to do bigger and better things than I did as a high school kid in a small town.

While I’m ready to go home for the summer just because I’m through with this homework business, I’m already excited for next semester and what other changes are in store for me.

Have a great break, everyone!

-Carly

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