Overwhelmed, But In a Good Way
Time flies when you’re having fun. The more stuff I pack, the more I realize the truth in this statement. Though I have a little less than a month before I move, I’m taking 90% of my stuff home to Pennsylvania with me this weekend. That way, on July 29th (my last day at my job), I can just toss what’s left in my car and hit the road.
I’ve lived here for 2 years. To some people, that’s not very long. But these have been the 2 post-grad years. My first years as a non-student; the years they say shape you more than all of that time you spent in the classroom.
I’m not an emotional person. Seriously, I didn’t even cry in P.S. I Love You or The Time Traveler’s Wife. But as I was packing away my work clothes Tuesday night, I almost got a little emotional. I was folding each pair of pants, none of which I had before I started this job. I thought of all of the coupons I used and money I saved to help build my work wardrobe. I thought of the meetings I attended and the classes I spoke to while wearing them. Not to mention the pounds I lost to fit into those pants in the first place.
A lot has happened in these two years. It was the first time I was truly on my own and far enough away that I couldn’t drive home for every holiday. The first time I bought a car and the first time I had to call AAA to fix it. The first time my life required a professional wardrobe, other than the 2 summers I spent in scrubs while checking old people’s eyes for glaucoma.
I’ve grown up, plain and simple. Sometimes I don’t like to admit that I’m growing up because either A) I’m over the age of 18 so I’m supposed to already be a grown-up or B) admitting that I’m a grown-up [or even using that term in a sentence] is frightening. But the truth of the matter is, that’s what happened. The girl writing this on the porch right now is a whole lot more mature and less naive than the one who stepped on this porch for the very first time. She’s a lot more confident and won’t let anyone walk over her. She’ll share her opinion but still try her best not to offend you. [Ok, enough with this 3rd person craziness. I’m creeping myself out.]
Are things all sunshine and butterflies? No, not quite. There’s good and bad and happy and sad; and that’s what life is all about. I’m sad that my fluency in French has dwindled away and the little Italian I spoke is nearly a lost cause, but my faith has grown by leaps and bounds, and for that I am eternally grateful. I’m a bit nervous about what’s next but hopeful in the journey ahead.
Looking back can be a little overwhelming. Just a few highlights of the past 2 years include:
- changing my entire life path; becoming a candidate for ordained ministry; receiving a fellowship to complete my Master of Divinity degree at Duke University
- going on a mission trip to Nicaragua and viewing poverty, faith, and beauty in a whole new light
- making some of the best friends I could ever ask for
- becoming a group exercise instructor
- understanding what community really is and how it impacts my life and my faith; being embraced by a loving and supportive community that lifted me up and helped me discover who I am
- managing and expanding an entire alternative spring break program at the university I work for; providing college students stellar experiences to learn and serve
- eating more fried chicken than I ever thought was possible; consequently gaining 20 pounds; realizing I gained a ton of weight and then losing almost all of it
- allowing strange Southern words and expressions to become part of my vernacular
- planning week-long themed service weeks such as Hunger Week, Social Justice Week, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, etc.
- planning the York County Hunger Outreach Project, which won the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education’s Service Learning Award; this project mobilized 1,200 freshman students and their peer mentors in 3 service-learning projects: CanStruction, CROP Walk, and feeding programs at a local DSS children’s home and a senior living center; results included 11,000 canned goods donated to local food pantries, a $5,000 contribution to Church World Service (75% goes to third world countries, 25% stays at local poverty fighting agencies) and over 750 meals served to people in need
Whew! That was exhausting. There is obviously a whole lot more than that, but those are just a few of the highlights. But now? Now it’s time to stop looking back. It’s time to enjoy the next 29 days and to delight in the times spent with people I love. It’s time to make some new memories and share some good laughs. So when July 29th finally comes, and I load those final items into my car, I truly know that nothing – not a tear, a laugh, a good meal, a new pair of shoes, or a piece of fried chicken – has been left behind.