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Surprising Myself

5 October 2011

The brink of adulthood is thrilling.  It’s uncertain and surreal.  One moment I have everything figured out and the next, I can be unsure of my path.  I am young and my life is filled with opportunity – I have the luxury to decide what kind of a person I want to be.

Being a nineteen-year-old college student is terrifying.  It’s electric.  It’s out-of-control and topsy-turvey, with a flaming neon exclamation point.  And I like it.

For me, nothing is set in stone.  I have the flexibility of youth to figure out who I am, what I want to do, and how I’m going to do it, and I have encountered some incredible and worthwhile surprises along the way.

In high school, I played field hockey but dismissed my seemingly un-athletic exterior by delving deeply and passionately into music and the arts.  I never made a Varsity team (even though, at my school, almost everyone did by their senior year), and always discounted myself, telling myself that it was okay not to be competitive, and that I really only needed exercise to stay slim.  I thought I was going to major in Music, Spanish, or something equally right-brained.  My reputation consisted of one sucessful musical performance after the next – I was known as the girl who sang, or the girl who played the flute, but never the girl who led her team to victory, or who could sprint a mile in under seven minutes.

This fall, you can most likely find me studying in the science library, eating at the gluten-free dining hall, and on a boat speeding down the Connecticut River.  I could not have predicted that this was how my college experience would unfold, and I am genuinely surprised and pleased to say that I love every second of it.  This is, in fact, the first time that I’ve been at college where I feel like I get it – I have no urges to go home at every opportunity I get, and no incredible sadness to hide behind an unconvincing smile.  I feel happy and fulfilled.  Who knew that doing a sport and studying science would get me there?

I joined the crew team on a whim.  I needed another activity, and I already had developed into an morning person (another surprise) and figured that rowing would be my ticket to a better semester.  So far, I have flourished.  I find myself motivated to improve and looking forward to practice every day (even when it means waking up at 4:30am).  I want to row in the top boat in the upcoming regattas badly.  The competitive, atheletic, and intense side of me has begun to emerge.  Now I enjoy pushing my limits, and feel incredibly proud when I break a personal record.  I still practice yoga three times a week, but I feel this newfound drive to be the best at everything I do, not just with what affects my GPA.

Last year I have a vivid memory of talking with another student and telling her that I would never in my right mind touch a Chemistry textbook again.  Studying science held a certain stigma to me, and seemed like a waste of time for the girl whose destiny seemingly lay in art.  But guess what my favorite class is this semester?  Here’s a hint: it has to do with quantum mechanics.

What gives?  I even groaned when I registered for Chem in early September.  I knew I needed to take the course because a desire buried deep in my psyche had bubbled up to my conciousness this summer that could not be ignored.  In a moment of clarity, I realized that I want to work in holistic medicine.  In retrospect, it makes sense in conjunction with my character and interests, because I am passionate about health and wellness. To me, I know that science combined with spirituality is the way to go.

After months of lamenting how I might never get a job out of a liberal arts college, a plan simply occured to me.  Who would have guessed?

I still haven’t chosen a major, and I don’t have to until April.  I can still pursue Musicology, or I can go in a different direction and study something like Nueroscience.  Anything is in the cards if I want it to be.

Although I am developing new and diverse interests, there are things about myself that will always hold true as well.  I love music, and I love to write.  I love to read, and I love to cook.  These are passions that I’ve known about for ages, and have only intensified with time.  It’s reassuring to know that I can always fall back on these things if I lose sight of who I am, and who I want to become.

It’s incredibly liberating to realize that I have the capacity to become anyone I choose.  I can change habits, pursue different interests, and always, always surprise myself.

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