It has been over a month since I moved to Champaign, Illinois, for grad school — the longest period of time I’ve been out of Florida.
Champaign is a charming city in the middle of the state that reminds me a lot of my hometown. I’m confident that I chose the right program for me, and I have the opportunity to practice what I’m learning in a supportive environment. On top of all of this, I’m lucky to live with one of my best friends and experience this new beginning with her.
All of this, and still, I don’t deal well with change.
I had about a month between arriving to Illinois and starting the semester, and I thought time truly stopped. In the weeks leading up to my move, I was in a haze of preparing for the move, throwing away my old, broken furniture and making decisions like which spoons I would be packing in my car. I was coming off of months of little sleep and put off the thought of actually driving 16 hours across the country.
Then I arrived, and time became wide open. I recovered from my sleep deprivation by sleeping late into the morning and made a habit out of it. That month, I woke up in the middle of the night almost every day. I would stare at the crack of light on the wall from the window and wonder when I would really rest.
I felt too idle during the day and experienced anxiety over every logistical housekeeping task I took care of, and over everything else. My mind was brimming with worry constantly. I had little relief. One worry would just trade shifts with another.
Yet, I wasn’t completely idle, as restless as I was. I ran and ran and ran. In those few weeks before my orientation, I ran nearly 54 miles over 14 tracked runs. I was searching for calm in the open fields south of my new campus, exerting myself until at least my body would relax. But it still wasn’t enough to finally let me sleep for a whole night.
At the end of those first weeks, I was upset that I spent my time the way I did. I could have been doing so many other things instead of worrying and focusing on my fears — crafting a care package for my parents, writing letters to loved ones at home, getting to know Champaign.
But I didn’t, and that’s okay.
I am transitioning, and my gratitude for even being where I am also means accepting change. It means accepting how I experience change. I never thought I would leave Florida for school, but actually making the decision to do it has shown me what I’m capable of, that I am pliable. And that gives purpose to the shift.