The best way to tackle change is to allow yourself to feel, reflect, evaluate, and elevate.
On August 26, 2018, for some reason I hadn’t considered anxiety as a feeling attached to this big moment. There was an uneasiness indistinguishable from last minute packing and errands. Repeated and dramatic exhales filled my day as my departure crept closer and closer. As I awaited my flight alone and my heart beat sped up each minute, this feeling demanded my attention. I was at the Philadelphia International Airport heading to study abroad at NYU Berlin. This was a life changing moment. And although I felt like I was supposed to be ready for it, my body was well aware of the truth.
All summer I was asked with such excitement “are you ready for Berlin?” And I always responded modestly but with uncertainty. As the first person in my family or community to do something like this, the pressure of enthusiasm was real but not my reality. I’ve tackled and overcome so much in my life that I felt I should be ready. But, it was undeniable that I was stepping into unknown territory. And upon arrival in Berlin, with extreme gratitude forever lingering over this experience, the excitement I wanted was overshadowed by the foreignness of this territory. I was so disappointed in myself.
This disappointment grew into sadness as orientation week felt like hell. My days were planned for me. With unfamiliarity, I was restricted from moving freely around the city alone like I normally would to just process things on the regular basis. My alone time was limited. I was just on edge. And when I finally got a moment to myself, I cried at the thought of this opportunity not being what I dreamt it'd be. I cried because I felt alone, lost, and simply afraid of what was to come. I cried until I found clarity and was able to name why I was feeling like this. It was because my independence was under attack and so was my serenity.
I never knew the two were so attached to one another until now. I never knew they meant so much to me either. And don't get me wrong, independence is great, especially for establishing individuality, self love, and self care. But personally, I might have too much of it. It took everything in me to FaceTime someone in the airport to express my anxiety let alone name the feeling before that moment. My independence led me to feel like I was suffocating in the discomfort
of being around people everyday of orientation week. And to be honest, I feel like this has held me back from building or maintaining meaningful relationships. I’m often so caught up in my own world that I don’t actively seek to be a part of the worlds of others and that’s not ok.
My independence was built so fiercely for protection and survival growing up in Olney. But now, my needs have shifted. I demand fulfillment and quality of life. I have to be able to speak my needs and fears and not be ashamed that I have them in the first place. I aspire to be able to open up to people more, especially because carrying everything myself isn't conducive to my growth or overall well being. I want to move from being aware that help is out there to actually feeling like it's ok to use it without being in crisis. I want people to feel like it’s ok to check on me and not seem like a rock that will forever be solid. A healthy balance of independence, dependence, strength and vulnerability is what I claim as I approach my 21st birthday and womanhood. Coming to this realization, Berlin seems to be the place where I can say I stepped deeply into this adult chapter.