I’m sitting in a tiny room, sipping gifted wine from a plastic cup. The only things in the room that are actually mine are my clothes, books, and photo frames (I can’t even claim the bed since my mother paid for it). Is this my new reality?
Two months ago, I was cosy and secure in my environment – both physical and mental. But with the conclusion to my degree came the conclusion to my sense of “normalcy”. Within a month I started a new job, moved into a tiny room in a shared house (with both humans and dogs as tenants), and made an entirely new group of friends whom I still need to learn a lot from and about.
In new, stressful situations like this one, my immediate reaction is usually to cry and run. Where some people resort to drinking in times of stress, my emotional control shuts down and I’m a sobbing mess. This is shortly followed by the resolution that I need to run away and change my situation ASAP. However, this time around I’ve realised that the first step to accepting a problem is to admit you have it in the first place. Quitting, in this and most instances, isn’t the solution.
My resistance and reaction to change has followed a steady pattern. As my father pointed out, the cycles of life and change are cycles for a reason. The foreignness of new situations changes into a plateaued state of acceptance, and finally a heightened sense of being happy and in control.
My first few days at primary school saw me clinging to my mother’s neck, and afraid to get out of the car. A few months later, my friends and I were exchanging sandwiches at lunch and organising playdates after school. Fast forward to my first year at university and I’m calling home every night, asking my mother to come pick me up. But finally leaving my residence in third year was a bittersweet affair and I still recall res evenings and tea dates with melancholy. From these cycles, I’ve come to realise that the low points are never larger than the high points, and that the low points stem from a sense of being powerless and not in control.
So this year, and most years to come, I’m celebrating change and the unknowability of where life will take me next. I’m embracing the unfamiliarity and the sense of being powerless. I’m embracing the fact that I still have A LOT to learn and that I’m not necessarily the brightest and smartest in the room.
My new reality is thrusting me so far out of my comfort zone that the only possible solution is to simply flourish. And that I will.