Digging In

I’ve spent quite a few showers pondering what next to write. Typically, I come across universal problems in my life, and then solutions, and then share them. However, lately, there haven’t been many, of the former that is. Sure, there’s day to day challenges…did I remember to put on deodorant? Did I really press “whites” when I was washing my darks? Or even, did I succeed at capturing the desired theme in my essay? Did I make too many rash statements when meeting that new person? Did I eat enough or too much?

But, the thing is, they don’t stand out. They don’t seem like such problems as they do seconds in a series of moments that compile a story I’m lucky to write. I don’t harp on those that seem negative, not in denial, but rather I put my energy into taking the next best course of action, and therefore, find myself in recollection with far too many positives to explore.

This is all new, though, so it took me a while to even recognize what was happening. I kept thinking to myself mid-shampooing, “Am I missing myself?” Then I realized and I tried to search further. “Things are good,” isn’t enough to share. That’s not entirely relatable. That’s kind of boring. I’m taking a creative writing class again this semester and my teacher repeated what I have heard before, “Don’t write about the race you won. No one wants to read that. Write about the race you lost. That’s human; that’s connecting.” But I am a firm believer in truth, as well as in rule-breaking. And, besides, this is my shiny reflections. So, here we go, an ode to my current happiness, because it exists and it has not always…

Though I was hesitant in my transition, things have gone better than I could have ever foreseen. In terms of food and life, I did not expect to expand this much nor enjoy it this immensely. The thing is, I’m used to shrinking back. A consistent belief I used to have was the inevitable, “I am too much.” Every time I came close to feeling the truth in that statement, I fled. With food, I deprived, with relationships, I distanced, and with feelings, I denied. Then, in recovery, I began to walk closer to the edge, testing out the seemingly shakier surfaces. Yet, in this last transition, I, in many ways, unknowingly began to run, full-force into the land of too much, embracing all of the “bigness” I can find. This is what I have learned: the edge is actually a pedestal.

In so many ways, I am a lot. I talk loudly, and quickly, and frequently. I walk in a diagonal and am, thus, I am known to walk people off a curb. I sometimes get excited when I eat and will drip things on myself often. I am dramatic. I swear more than I’d like and I make jokes that are mostly not that funny. However, in approaching all of the ways I am full, I have also opened myself to a simultaneous set of truths. I care a lot. I have a lot of good ideas. I can get along with most people and I am a good judge of character. I feel and love a lot, and perceive the world in an ultra-sensitive and perceptive way. I have a lot to offer.

Though the former used to seem like a set of barriers, in stepping into all of myself lately, I have come to identify all of the above as connectors, and this connection has brought me a ton of happiness. The edge I choose to walk upon has made my reality one I couldn’t have foreseen for the mere fact that it is so much more than what I knew to be possible.

Since coming to school, I have reconnected with so many supports from the past who have helped me transition, and I have also created new ones. I have made friends with a group of girls who are all incredibly sympathetic, genuine, kind, smart, and quirky in their own ways. We eat almost all of our meals together, go into Boston to try out restaurants weekly, and I have allowed myself to connect over food, making myself vulnerable and opening up my set of insecurities and stories to a new set of people. In return, I’ve felt safer in my environment and the positivity of continuing to plant more powerful, meaningful relationships.

I have also fallen in love with learning and with life in a learning setting in a way I haven’t known before. I have begun re-identifying what role education plays for me and have chosen to focus myself on getting all of what I’ve always loved out of school: the enhancing my knowledge, expanding my awareness, and understanding myself and my surroundings more thoroughly through my studies, while eliminating the parts that worked to my detriment: the working for/stressing about grades, taking classes that I don’t enjoy to fulfill an image I thought I wanted, pursuing too much that didn’t interest me, etc.

It’s been challenging having to shrug off the insecurities and natural tendencies to somewhat hyperventilate when I get less than a perfect score on a test, but what I’ve discovered is how much more efficiently I work and how much more I get out of the work I do when I’m following my interests. I’ve discovered my procrastinating has been eliminated because I actually look forward to the work I’m assigned. This, in and of itself, has kept my sleep schedule consistent, along with my food schedule. I’ve stayed well-rested, well-nourished, and my mood has been impacted positively.

The same phenomenon has been present in my social life. I have sought balance and decided to only attend and involve myself in events of interest. It has also been equally difficult in this department. The fact of the matter is that I no longer enjoy going out late and partying with strangers. I don’t believe in the binge-drinking culture prevalent in American higher education and I’d rather watch Orange is the New Black in bed or go out to dinner than try to make conversation over music blasting from iTunes Top 100 list. Though, I’ve had to question my intentions and determine whether or not this was healthy, I haven’t had to search much farther than the outcomes. I am so much happier this way. I wake up in the morning at a decent hour after going to bed before 12 and that makes me happy. I hang out with people during the day doing things that I like and that makes me happy. I feel good about who I am and that makes me happy, and I know I’m making the decisions that are congruent with the life I want to live: a life that makes me want to live.

The same is true in the reverse. In seeking out things I like, I have found a massive number of clubs and activities that interest me which I’m getting involved with. I am a proud member of Notorious D.I.G., an intramural volleyball team my friend started. I have joined WOM (Word of Mouth), a public speaking forum that meets weekly to develop a community where each person has a chance to practice and get feedback on speeches they produce from a prompt given the night prior. I will be writing a guest column for The Heights, the school newspaper, and have joined The Rock, an online publication for Boston College. I’ve also joined a series of other clubs with lower commitments like The Philosophical Society, The English Association, Think Tank, and other female empowerment clubs. In this I’ve had to question, “Am I doing too much? Am I avoiding something or trying to flood something out with the excess?” But, again, I’ve had to watch for the results. So far, I have kept balance. I have prioritized and only attended what I can fit in my schedule. I have kept room for alone time, appointments (which are their own extracurricular, in and of themselves), social time, and time to watch OITNB, and I am happy. I don’t feel obligated to do the things I’m doing, but, for the first time, am pursuing things that motivate me, and I look forward to participating.

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All of these things have changed the way I approach each day and now, more than ever, I feel the overwhelming protection over my life. It is precious and I am finally discovering what it means to have one. I think back on my past and I can’t understand how I couldn’t see what massive gap lied in the center of my universe, yet I have compassion because I didn’t know. However, it feels like another lifetime in an inexplicable, confusing, and also incredibly amazing way. Some days, I grieve the life I led when I was so lost. Other days, I fill with gratitude at having known what that was like, with the realization that every day is more powerful because of that. And, still, today, I feel incredibly passionate about telling all those who might awake in pursuit of hopes and dreams that fall flat, that consume you with terror and pain, that it changes; to let it change. You must let it change.

Sure, there are still bumps and twists and turns. Did I really just get food poisoning from Mac (the cafeteria on a campus)? Did I get off at the wrong stop on the T again? Did I seriously get the BC Plague (a sore throat and congestion that lingers)? Did I set my alarm clock an hour too late? Did I make a good first impression? But, at the end of the day, I go to bed with things to do, rather than those to avoid. And, in the morning, I awake with excitement instead of fear.

Cheers!

Alexandra

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