This semester has really been an emotional roller coaster - with the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.
It would be impossible to try and contextualize all my experiences here, and I'm not gonna try. The point of this blog is to try and share what I learn throughout my Oberlin journey, and in the process, document how I change and grow.
And this semester, (*forgive the melodrama*) I've learned a lot more about myself than any semester before, and I have a pretty good idea now of what I really want to do.
So... where do I even begin?
About a month into the new semester (after I resettled into the groove), I think I discovered what was really meant by the term 'sophomore slump'.
I lost the will to go to Swing & Blues dances, which had been how I'd been spending basically all of my Friday nights in my Freshman year. I grew uninterested in my classes (but not as a result of their content, or the professors). My schedule no longer aligned so perfectly with some of my friends, and I felt myself growing apart from them.
Even though there were still so many exciting things in my life, I didn't feel it. I was bored - but it was more than that, it was a feeling of malaise, a feeling of nihilism and despondency, and a feeling that I was disconnected from everyone and everything.
I remember the worst it got was going to the study away fair, returning to my room with 16 different meaningless pamphlets for programs I wasn't interested in, feeling absolutely, completely lost in this world.
But then something magical happened.
I had been organising a weekend-long Intro to Tricking workshop, and it finally happened.
We brought in this absolutely inspiring, totally down-to-earth Oberlin alum: he had been the Captain of Tumbling Club in the generation right before me, and he was now working as a professional stuntman.
It's kinda hard to put into words how much of a 180 that weekend did for me at the time. I was reminded of how passionate I was for Tricking and got to spend a full weekend doing this crazy new thing that I really, really, really love.
If you're curious to see what this thing is, here's a montage I made of every video I recorded of myself tricking over the past year, where each clip is in chronological order for that skill. You'll notice that I suck at the beginning, but I kept doing it anyway. Don't ever sell yourself short, or stop doing something that you're passionate about because you suck at it. We all start from nothing.
My entire perspective shifted. I looked around at my life at Oberlin, and I really saw how many things I had to be excited about.
And then it was all sunshine and rainbows right?
Not quite. That's not how life works.
A lot more things happened this past semester - another absolutely incredible Fall break trip to Red River Gorge with the climbing team, *the election* (yeah... that really happened), Pittstop (a weekend of swing and blues dancing in Pittsburgh), my Dance major declaration, Thanksgiving (where I went to my best friend's house), and the OCircus Fall Show, which I had been looking forward to since, well, the last circus show I was in - way back in May.
But let's flash forward to the Sunday night right before finals. Some personal drama that had been building up since Fall break had come to a climax, something that had kinda consumed me, and I had finally addressed it, both within and without myself.
I found myself sitting on a bench out in the cold at my most vulnerable, sobbing into one of my best friend's arms. Snow gently fell, and time felt like it had stopped altogether. It was probably the lowest emotional point of my life so far.
And at the point, I knew who I was.
I found a resilience, a drive, and an optimism inside myself that I really didn't expect.
I knew right then that no matter how much I might have wanted to sit on that bench forever, I couldn't. I was still going to wake up the next morning and continue pushing myself to work harder and go further in everything I did, because that's just who I am. It might sound cheesy - but no matter how bad things will get, I'll never be able to just quit.
And I knew what I really wanted. I finally understood why I had declared my Dance major - I loved all forms of movement arts, and I just want to explore different movement possibilities, get on the biggest stage I can find, and share my passion with anyone who would care to see. This past semester I've performed more than ever before, and I've realized just how much I love and crave it.
It seems a strange twist of fate: all throughout my schooling, I've loved being in a classroom, and I've loved the hard sciences (and I still do).
And yet, here I am - an 'arts kid', through and through.
And finally, I knew that I really am an unabashed optimist. However bad things might get today, I will always have the power to make tomorrow better.
But above all of that - I realized that the most important thing to me is having real connections with people. And looking back at this semester, that's what I'm most grateful for. I had some really meaningful relationships with professors that went beyond just the coursework, which I'm excited to develop. And while I may have grown apart from some friends, I grew closer to others.
Maybe this all reads as a bit melodramatic and sensationalized, but it really feels important. (I also have a strong penchant for nostalgia and 'meaningful reflection' at the end of semesters in case you haven't noticed )
Maybe I'm not actually that different a person now than I was a year ago, or two years ago - maybe, I'm just a more refined version of myself. But now, at least, I feel like I know who that person is. I've figured out what I'm really drawn to (performing, movement arts), and I have no more uncertainties standing in my way.
But what do I know? I'm still 19 (almost 20, that's terrifying), and a sophomore in college. Every time I think I've got everything figured out, something comes along to make me think. Then I figure it out a little bit better for next time.
It's been a wild ride, but I can't help but be excited to see what tomorrow brings.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I'm going to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the month of January, for a Spanish-language immersion program. I'll be living with a host family that doesn't speak English.
I know no Spanish...
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November 11, 2023