Oberlin Blogs

Wild 'n Wiser

January 21, 2014

Alexandria Cunningham ’16

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." ~Alan Alda

Where is the wilderness of one's intuition exactly? Is this imaginative pitstop half as chaotic as it sounds? Can it really be the case that to be (re)acquainted with ourselves we must journey to the "wilderness" of what we think we know and start searching for our inner self? Yep, all of that rings true. Self-discovery is a dynamic process that compels us to look both inward and outward in an effort to take stock of our experiences' reflexive impact. Even more so, self discovery lends itself to self narratives that strengthen communal ties with a level of creative expression that I cannot fully delve into with this short post.

The early morning days and longer nights coming from my semi-hectic work schedule are entirely new for me. Whenever I get a free minute to take stock of my time here in New Orleans, I think about many of my personal goals and aspirations. Each day that I come into my internship I observe or experience something that challenges my convictions and belief systems, for better or for worse. Personally, a lot of things are starting to be re-evaluated and so the plunge into the trenches of my own wilderness begins.

And here is what the wilderness had to offer... understanding. Let us take career choices for an example. Awhile back, I toyed around with the idea of working in a high school setting as either an administrator or a teacher. Then I moved onto considering being a professor or an educational policy maker at the federal level. Well, as far as working in high schools, I am no longer digging that. The extended hours, planning, differences in philosophy and ideology, extreme personal investment in uncontrollable situations and everything else that comes with it is just something I am not down to work in long-term. However, I have incredible respect for the people who this life is perfect for. Sadly, I am just not about that life and it is okay. For me, I cannot do the type of work that fulfills me most in this kind of space but that does not mean that I need to divorce myself from it entirely. At the end of the day, I will always have a passion for education, youth work and streamlining resources for people of color, specifically, to be able to do their best and maximize their opportunities. And it is totally all right for me to feel that way. So here goes the beginning of my wonderful discovery.

As Alda so beautifully articulated, life is a process. It requires you to step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and really be open to your experiences, which is easier said than done. For an overall takeaway, what I got out of his quote relates heavily back to the life is a journey concept. Many times it feels like self-discovery/the whole getting-to-know you thing is played out. I get that. Who wants to keep losing themselves and finding themselves again? However, I push back on that just to say that sometimes to get lost is to find the way. I have my youth and curiosity to feed my desire to overlook the oceans of opportunity, swim the seas of success and all of that other metaphorical wonderfulness. But really though, my journey is my own and I am excited for it. My journey is unique--from the insight, wisdom and support I have to the bumps, twists, highs and lows--it is all mine. What is even better is that whether I get lost in the wilderness of my own intuition or just fake it until I make it, I still get to the greatest treasure in my life. Me.

So once again, Winter Term, you have proven to be that necessary growth period that I needed to come into myself once again in order to re-up for yet another challenging semester.

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