It’s good to be back.
After a year of constant transitions – including completing my freshman year of college, driving across the country for my dream internship, moving to a place where I knew all of two people (via Facebook – I never actually talked to them before arriving), driving back to Indiana only to completely change my training, mindset and perspective, to take on intense treatment for my tibial stress fracture and then to pack everything up once again to move down to Bloomington – it’s nice to finally settle in, if only for two semesters.
I’m out of the dorms this year, but am still living on campus, this time in an apartment. I’m living with my best friend, who’s also my role model and mentor. And it’s fantastic. We moved in less than a week ago, but I already feel at home.
Coming to Bloomington was a bit of a shock to the system at first – I spent the majority of my summer being a bit of a hermit, training, working and then religiously watching The Mindy Project alone in my apartment. I went to bed early, woke up with the sun and enjoyed following my own schedule with zero distractions from anyone other than my roommate and the bunny we pet-sat for a couple weeks. I was able to focus on placing myself first, something I neglected last year at IU, and I formed some great habits. I took care of my body, relished in simplicity and rekindled my love for cooking. What began as an eight-week internship with my dream publication became eight weeks of self-discovery, healing and prioritizing, with a nice internship on the side.
Now, it’s time to test these lessons I’ve learned, and the exam has already begun. With Welcome Week.
Welcome Week is known to be a bit boisterous, with a lot of activities, drinking and partying. Essentially the opposite of my summer. Needless to say, it has been and continues to be fantastic to catch up with friends, meet some new ones and be surrounded by tens of thousands of others my age, but it has also been overwhelming. Gone are the quiet streets of La Jolla. Instead, hoards of girls in high-waisted shorts and guys in bro tanks fill the scene. Beer cans, empty liquor bottles and red solo cups line some streets and yards, and as comical (or depressing – depending on how you look at it) the scene of a large public institution may be during a hot and humid week in August, it’s also reassuring. It reminds me that while, yes, the party culture is present and thriving – so is another culture, a culture of watching a documentary with my roommate; of going for a bike ride with friends, or catching up with those you’ve missed over pad thai and frozen yogurt. A culture of going to a party and encountering intellectually stimulating conversations, laughs and zero pressure to drink. This is the culture I have found and embraced at IU. This is why I am proud to call myself a Hoosier.
A large part of this week has been welcoming the freshman class of the scholarship program I’m a part of at IU. Thinking back to a year ago – the thoughts and anxieties that ran through my mind while moving in, the first party I went to, my first friendships, and the inevitable mistakes I made – has forced me to experience an upheaval of emotions this week. Some regret, some angst, some fear, but also plentiful happiness and a lot of gratitude. Gratitude for the patience of those around me and for my own patience. College is tough, but it is also magical time. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you cannot live with regret, with mistakes come knowledge, with knowledge comes preparation, and with preparation comes a brighter tomorrow. While there are some things from last year that result in me shaking my head, they also result in me stepping forward with greater confidence, experience and knowledge for the exciting road ahead.
Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future. – Fulton Oursler
The pangs of regret that we all inevitably experience at one, or several, points in our lives do little to promote our happiness. The fears we have of the future, its darkness and entrapping corners, do little to help us navigate it. While banishing regret is easier said than done, especially when triggers arouse emotional responses and memories, it’s a worthwhile effort. Living each day without fear, fear of consequences, the unknown, regret, is equally as challenging and rewarding. With a new school year comes new beginnings, and these beginnings start with me. I’m making the conscious decision to banish regret, live without fear and begin each day with a bold step forward. A step toward my dreams, toward the unknown.
Here’s to another year as a Hoosier. Another year of self-discovery, newfound passions and cream and crimson. Another year of hard bike rides, healthy runs and bigger dreams. Another year of friendship, learning and exploring. Raise your glass, whether it’s filled with cheap beer, water or a protein shake, to year No. 2 – the best year yet.