Disconnect and Reconnect: What You Learn When You Return Home

Disconnect and Reconnect: What You Learn When You Return Home

Brain Droppings from a Sitdown with Skyler Mueller
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Friday, July 31st, 2015

“My name is Skyler Mueller. I am a junior at Virginia Tech, and I am from Malvern, Pennsylvania, a small Philadelphia suburb on the Main Line. I have two loving parents, a[n] older brother, and I want to teach.”

“I would say I have spent no more than two weeks at home since I began my second semester in sophomore year.”

Skyler on College

  • Until I went to college, I think I enjoyed more peace in my life and thinking.
  • I truly believed upon entering college that I knew myself. I remember actually saying it to a couple of my hallmates, and not a few weeks later, I was spinning as my whole world went upside down. So I have learned to never assume I have discovered myself completely.
  • I was completely away from everyone who had fostered my beliefs, away from that safety. That is a quick and easy gut-check, to see what you really believe.
  • There is no growth without pain. Embracing pain or discomfort when it comes will help growth.
  • I hope to be the RA to my residents that my RA was to me. She was a companion through tough times, through inner turmoil, and also through times of happiness.
  • There are many times where you are teacher and a learner, just at the same time.
  • I’m not usually someone who decorates my room, so people are like, “Oh, so you don’t have a personality?” So now I am trying to find things to decorate my room.

Skyler on Home

  • I went on a cross country road trip last summer – 10,000 miles all around the country, in a huge circle. And although I was very happy and fortunate to explore, and eager to explore and discover, throughout the trip I always wanted to be home. Not as in, “turn the car around, turn it around right now.” I always knew I wanted to finish my trip at home. The destination was home. I went through, and passed through and arrived at so many homes across this country, and that was what was so crazy to me. I passed by so many places that are home, like what I have been describing, for so many other people.
  • I’ve always had a strong affinity, a feeling of kinship around home. I feel very much myself. Someone could drive through my town, through those streets on a trip, and to them it is just another town, but I can’t see it in that way. The memories are in the air. To me there is so much more import surrounding this place. I see home as a reminder of my roots; the core of me.
  • Even though I am changing, and I could be very different from who I was however long ago, my home updates with me. Home has never felt outdated, so far in my life. It has felt like it has always been alongside me. Home has been a companion; but it has been more than that. It has been a lot of things.
  • Home is safety and comfort, but not complacency. I do not feel stagnant here. It is a safe place to grow. I can be challenged even in a place so familiar, and sometimes in the best ways.
  • When I come home, sometimes, it feels like it knows me better than I know myself, in the sense that I am learning about myself by just being home.
  • There is something about this location, this geography, that knows me, in some way.

Skyler on Family

  • My family and I are very fortunate; we never had much conflict or many problems, and so when I brought some problems and some conflict, I think it was very healthy in a very great way, and made connections I had never made with my family before.

Skyler on Skyler

  • I am happy, I am. But it is a little more complicated than that. You know, I am content.
  • Disillusioned and delusional are two very different words. Why are they so close? I remember saying disillusioned a lot when I meant to say deluded or delusional, and when I finally looked it up it was like “Ahhhhh, shit.” Exact opposites almost.
  • I usually view growth in what I gain, but inevitably there has to be a loss. I have lost a faith. I was Christian, and now I am Agnostic. I gained some new beliefs and doubts, and I lost others.
  • It is very uncomfortable to start to believe that what you used to believe is wrong.
  • My excitement for life, I haven’t lost that, not yet. There is never a moment when I feel like there isn’t something to learn, and I am constantly captivated by the dynamics of life.

Parting Shots

  • Why don’t we do this more? I don’t mean like a Diane Sawyer sit down interview, but with people I care about, this is such a great concept for learning about each other, and learning about yourself. I want to reciprocate this. Why don’t we, not just you and me, but people, sit down and ask each other those essential questions? Is it time?
  • The people are the primary destination.

“They won’t know you care, until you care to know.”

–Said by many, not accredited to any.

Cover Image Credit: Malcolm D. Anderson

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Intimidation Isn't Always What It Seems

Always ask yourself this question when feeling intimidated...

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A few months ago, I read something online that really stuck with me. I don't remember who said it, or where it came from, so my apologies for not accurately crediting the genius who spoke these words, but it said this:

"Am I actually intimidating, or are you just intimidated?"

Growing up, you constantly find yourself in situations where you feel scared or uncomfortable. I don't think there's one person on the planet that can say that they didn't feel intimidated at one point or another growing up. Maybe it was by the "popular kids" or by a teacher or a supervisor. So many people can make you feel a certain way and it can be scary when you're a child growing up. Maybe you felt intimidated because they were bullies or they were a strong personality.

But after reading this quote, I started to think about every time in my life that I felt intimidated. Walking into a new job, taking a chance on writing, seeing a group of girls in the cafeteria - whatever it was, I thought of it. And my perspective completely changed.

It wasn't necessarily that the people who I was encountering or the situation I was entering was scary. In fact, most times, those people turned out to be incredibly welcoming and nice, or that situation was nothing but spectacular, but at that moment, I was completely intimidated. It was something new and the unknown can always be scary. But looking back, it wasn't that those situations and people were intimidating - it was that I was intimidated.

Being intimidated is completely natural. It'd be crazy to say 'hey, don't be intimidated' and expect people to actually feel comfortable. But it's something to think about moving forward when you find yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or even scared. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and let that timidness get the best of you but think of that question and realize that it's not necessarily the situation - sometimes it's you letting the situation get the best of you.

At the end of the day, people are just people. Everyone has boogers and everyone had good and bad days and to be honest, the people who others find intimidating are usually the ones who are just better at putting up a front. They're the ones who find having a hard exterior is easier than being vulnerable and letting others in. Don't let those people scare you. They're usually fighting a battle that they're taking out on the people around them - and that shouldn't scare you.

"Am I actually intimidating, or are you just intimidated?"

Think about it, feel it, let it wash over you, and don't let those feelings get the best of you. Most of the best things in life are just past that line outside of your comfort zone.

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