It's overwhelming, sometimes, to not be having life-changing experiences.
Your friends and their summers surround you like a whirlwind, all at once like all of you hadn't just hugged goodbye and published 'Till next time posts and sent multiple I miss you texts. It feels like you turn your back for one minute to tell your mom how excited you are for actually landing your summer camp job and in that time, your friends take off for Haiti to do mission work, to Oxford for a conference, to Austria and Peru and Jena and Guatemala for summer class, to New York for an internship at Carnegie Hall, and to Amsterdam to do research.
The sappy good-bye posts fade, and when you're ready to turn to can't wait to be back posts, they're posting worldly adventures and looking like they'll never be ready to come back.
And you're stuck in your hometown, working summer camp from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., watching your friends flurry around the world without you.
You're faced with several moral dilemmas to ponder throughout your summer at home.
1. The age-old issue of how to be happy for your friends when they're doing things you wish you could be doing yourself.
2. Figuring out how to make the best of not having a life-changing travel and service experience, and instead soul-searching whilst at home.
3. Understanding that you're not sure what your next summer will entail, and your wanderlust is at the consequence of the knowledge that your summers at home are limited.
The position that I'm in right now: I love my friends, I love my summer job at home, and I am so entirely thankful for the opportunity to have both things. But at the same time, it's hard to receive an email from a friend about her life-changing experiences working as a medical intern in Haiti, and when she addresses my summer, she says "your camp stories are so funny," like what I'm doing is worth addressing in the same breath.
Some days, I wish I could switch places with the people I know in Europe, but then I get all frozen up inside thinking about how few people will be in my hometown next year in favor of exciting adventures, including, perhaps, myself.
I'm in the place I'll miss for the rest of my life, and sometimes I'm wishing it away.
One of my mentors, who helped me make one of the best decisions of my life in going to Wake Forest, once told me: "I think it's brave and exciting to make an adventure out of staying."
This is one of those times where I don't have an answer for myself, but rather a mantra.
I love my job, I love my friends, and I'm thankful to have both things. Because to have them is to be much luckier than so many people in our society. And what I'm just barely beginning to realize is that being happy right where you are is not so much a stagnant state of being, but a fluctuation, a tide. Where there is you, there is other people being in other places, but where there is not you, there is other people where you wish you could have been. A happiness changes to loneliness, excitement turns to nostalgia, you're here, you could be there, but to be there wouldn't be here, to be there wouldn't be still.
And being still doesn't exist anywhere, driving to camp, flying to another country, home for the summer or gone.
One of my favorite poems "And It Will Be A Beautiful Song" by Jon Sands says,
"A different empty waits in your bed
each morning. It only changes
but does not end. It will be
Beautiful. It is okay. A trajectory,
A pull, a wake."