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Change Makes Me Cranky But At Least It Keeps Things Interesting!

February 6, 2021

Aishwarya Krishnaswamy ’23

Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation. – Mahatma Gandhi 

As the weather is much colder, the crunchy noises of the fall leaves are replaced by the crisper sounds of ice almost crackling beneath my boots as I battle my way through blistering winds in amazement, looking at the snow-covered Oberlin fondly called ‘Snowberlin’! I can’t believe I dreaded the cold and the snow so much when now all I feel is euphoria and gratefulness to be experiencing the subtle snowy glory of Oberlin. 

A snowy Oberlin picture

With all the hubbub of add/drop week settling, I got some time to reflect on the past couple of weeks. In the last week and a half, I have moved across oceans, time zones, seasons, people, and emotions. Two weeks ago, even thinking of traveling internationally, quarantining, and then setting up my dorm room at the peak of the class shopping season, aka add/drop, caused the muscles between brows to crinkle up with stress. Tired of my instincts to get anxious, overthink, and overplan, I have come up with a way to keep the anxious thoughts at bay (rhyming yay!), and that is with a simple power phrase (albeit not the most original) “One step at a time.” This simple phrase slams the brake on my racing thoughts and helps me focus on one thing/thought/task/trouble at a time. The COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear to me: to embrace change and overdose on adaptability.  

A cute snowman
A cute snowman made by Obies (whom I do not know to give credit) outside Burton Hall in the north quad

A week ago, even thinking about being practically confined to a room for seven days in quarantine made me feel anxious. I would look out of the window longingly as students excitedly greeted each other. The first few days, there was a strong desire to step out, feel the chill winds numbing my fingers and making my hair look all funny, re-exploring my favorite parts of Oberlin this new season, and sipping on my favorite chai-latte. The next few days were mellower as I got acquainted with my new normal. Relishing Stevie meals and the Zoom calls, Netflix shows, and summer applications keeping me occupied. Then came day seven, the day I knew I was about to do everything I have been looking forward to. However, with the excitement came this niggling fear to once again reacquaint to a different space, surrounded by different people and adapting differently than I have been the past week. Just as my mind began to spiral into all the things I needed to get done, the boxes to unpack, the chores to run, I chanted my power phrase, “One step at a time.” Yes, there were many tasks and classwork to get done, but that was in the future. The only thing in the present was to feel alive once again as I connect with nature. Staying in the present allows me to explore the realms of mindful intentionality, with the occasional glimmers of hope keeping me motivated and aligned to my goals. 

Today as I am finally done setting up my room, I know that once again, next week is going to be different, with new challenges pushing me to grow and shift differently. Looking back at 2020, I am amazed at how adaptable we human beings are, including the kids at the Oberlin school district who navigate through hybrid classes this semester, the juniors in college coming to campus for the first time after the pandemic, the faculty and staff members as they implement new strategies with changing times, health officials as they bring in vaccination to the market and deal with the latest variants of the virus and mother nature as she patiently endures the disastrous effects of climate change. Before I once again loom into the future and its uncertain possibilities, I want to take a moment to appreciate our mind, our body, for being so resilient and adaptive, picking on the slightest cues, making the smallest changes, and fabricating hope and possibilities to look forward to. 

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