Staying present has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I am a worrier (but, hey, at least a self-aware worrier), so I spend a considerable amount of time mulling over the past or the future instead of where I am now.
Lately, I’ve done a lot of this mulling over packing and unpacking boxes as I move out of my now former apartment. There’s a lot to think about — I’m in the middle of transitioning to grad school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As I type this, my belongings are piled in my parents’ living room waiting to be squeezed into my car for the 16-hour drive to my new home.
I am in a strange state somewhere between nervousness and exhilaration. I feel nervous smoothing out all of the logistics of moving to a new place yet excited about the prospects of studying English as a Second Language and growing as a student. I am a marble rolling between these places, experiencing the lightness of excitement over the anxiety of preparation. I’ve taken feeling “all over the place” to a brand new dimension.
While I have thought A LOT about the immediate future — a.k.a. my to-do list — I have only thought in small glimpses about how complex of a change this new beginning will be.
I haven’t thought at length about what it will be like living in a completely new area across the country studying a field that intrigues me as much as studying English and Spanish did as an undergad. I know I’ll feel refreshed to be immersed in the inner workings of teaching as a student and teaching assistant. Yet, even though this will be a reality within the next month, the change feels so radical that it hasn’t completely settled.
When I have experienced big changes in the past, I tend not to feel their vigor until I am in the moment. Before the “big change,” I become engrossed in the practical tasks necessary to reach it. This one is no different; instead of acknowledging the grand scheme of this change, all I can manage to think about is what’s right in front of me (in this case, the pile of boxes).
I want, instead, to work toward a mental state of presence and belonging in the wake of this transition. I want to trust that I will take care of the logistics as I did in the past, rather than become distracted by them and miss the light ahead.
In order for me to be present right now, I have to accept that change can be stressful. That part I can’t ignore. But it can also be thrilling and hopeful and inspiring, and I've decided I don’t want to miss it as it happens.