This weekend I went to my sisters final dance recital. For the past, 18 years we have had a mandated routine of gymnastics practices and dance rehearsals. The carpools and the drive and the homework in the car. The late dinners because we were training during actual dinner time and the sticky feeling of being constantly in a leotard.
And it didn't hit that this was her last one. Our last time driving up in that direction for dance to the studio, the last time parking in the theatre parking lot, the last time being greeted by our parents with "how do you feel it went" afterwards.
I went through it two years ago, but there still remained some sort of routine and familiarity since my sister still had two years left. But two years flew by and we all were faced with what seemed to be an end of an era as it was what became normal for the past 18 years.
While watching the performance, I started to throw around ideas for my choreography piece I would be creating in the fall. For me, I thought about the first time I flew out of RDU from Elon my first fall break of freshmen year. My first time traveling alone, navigating myself to get to an airport I have never been at and then around the gates. I was overwhelmed at first, but now going into my junior year, I feel comfortable at the RDU airport.
I know how to plan time-wise before I go to the airport, where to find rides from there to avoid a dreaded Uber charge for a 40 minute drive, and even where the Starbucks is in relation to my gate.
As I watched my sister's last show and adjusted to the idea of being unfamiliar of what to do without the same regimented schedule my family followed in terms of my sister and I training in dance and gymnastics, I reflected on my experience at the airport and how that familiarity became to be.
Human nature revolves around our instincts and it truly is amazing how we learn to adjust and adapt to change around us without even knowing. In an unfamiliar situation, our instinct of survival kicks in and we take it from there. We feel out the situation, make ourselves fit in, and then familiarize ourselves with that feeling. It's really incredible and sometimes we don't even notice we do it. Sort of subconscious.
And over time those familiarities change, and that is okay. What was familiar to me in high school is not what I'm familiar with in college. College has helped me realize that change is inevitable, but change can be good.
I think a lot about what will happen when in fifty years we can't make a Dunkin run on Saturday mornings still wearing our pajamas before we get dressed for the day. Or waking up to your best friend calling you everyday about what your up to because he has a new brunch place "we need to try". Or convincing ourselves we are hungry for Cookout just so my friends and I can leave the apartment for a while and take a break from studying late at night.
What will happen when my feelings change and I'm not familiar with the way I've felt for a specific person before? Or when your best friends aren't a door or a minute drive away? Or even when you realize something you wanted to do your whole life is something you may no longer want to do?
It's a little scary to think about but in twenty years we will have new things we are familiar with. And just like things in the past are different from what I'm familiar with now. I will be familiar with things in the future that I'm not right now.
A new life, a career, a family. A new routine. It's crazy how things change and some of us are better at accepting it than others. And even though we can't change what we are familiar with, we can control how we deal with it. And that is the power of human instincts, we are in control and we have the ability to make of experiences for what they are and not what they should be.