Lean Toward Discomfort and Awkwardness

Lean Toward Discomfort and Awkwardness

Let's start leaning.

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It is my final day of freshman orientation here at Villanova University, and in these past 4 days I've learned a few things. First of all, I've learned at least 3 new ice breakers and I know the names of at least some buildings, but I've also learned two big lessons. I learned that we should lean towards discomfort, no matter how sad and horrible it may be, and that I should also lean towards the awkwardness I can only assume most (or at least some) freshman are feeling right now.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to witness a diversity skit in the Villanova Theater, and I can say it was a powerful experience that everyone should see at least once here in campus. For those of you who didn't get to see it, let me break down the main point of it all. A theatrical presentation was put on by ACT (Villanova Association for Change and Transformation) in which they showed several different scenarios of bigotry and hate among students in campus. The idea was to let people in to the reality that some students at Villanova are living. It may not be your friend, or your roommate, or that kid you've never talked to in your morning class, but it's happening to someone.

One specific scenario stood out to me a little more than the others, because frankly they all impacted me, but this one in particular was of a guy with Latin American parents who was talking with his mom in the phone. He was speaking Spanish. My first language is Spanish. A girl starts going off on him for speaking his mother's language (to his mother) and says a list of horrible and despicable things while assuming multiple things about this guy she doesn't even know. I have never experienced this, and I am thankful for that, but I'm not going to lie here and say I didn't know it was a possibility.

Coming to Villanova I was, and still am, excited about my education and my future here. The community and the love you can feel overall around campus drew me here, but I was never oblivious to the faults of the community and the hate hidden in some corners. On my first day I was happy, but afraid. What if people judged me for being from Panama? What if someone heard me speaking Spanish and gave me a dirty look, or even worse spat out some ignorant word? Thankfully none of that has happened. But just because it hasn't happened to me that doesn't mean it hasn't happened to someone else; it doesn't mean it won't happen to other people in other ways. So, I'm glad there is a movement in Villanova that is pushing people towards discomfort and holding up a mirror to the community in order for it to see its imperfections and "ugliness" and do something about it.

The other lesson I learned was a less serious, yet crucial one. Lean towards the awkwardness. Once again, I'm not going to lie here. I'm awkward, or at least I feel that way, and that's the root of the problem. I feel awkward, I convince myself I'm awkward, therefore I am awkward. Coming into orientation I was sure it was going to be awkward, but for once in my life I decided to rely on that and to truly, to put it in sensible terms, not give a shit.

So what if it's awkward? So what if I say a few jokes to try and defuse the tense silence around a table of complete strangers or if I dance like an idiot for an icebreaker? That's what it's all about. Just like with the discomfort, I can't ignore the awkwardness; the only thing I can do is lean towards it and embrace it. This week I have put myself out there in ways that I didn't think I could, and part of me is terrified. I'm scared I talked too much, I'm scared I said the wrong thing, I'm anxious about making friends, but fuck it. Lean towards that awkwardness and use it, not as a shield or an excuse to be quiet, but as a strength you can rely on to make the transition to college swifter and much more enjoyable.

In the end, I think I learned one big lesson. College is not the time to run away from problems, it's not the time to hide in a little bubble in an alternate reality, and it is not the time to look the other way. As we start our journey to become actual adults (apparently we are fake adults at the moment), we have to learn how to deal with the good and the bad. Let's lean into what makes us uncomfortable, be it something on a large scale that affects millions, like racism or homophobia, or something that affects us personally, like feeling like we don't fit in. This is the time to stand, face the ugliness and the uncomfortableness, look it in the eye, and make a choice of how we are going to change. So start leaning, I promise it will make all the difference.

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10 Things I Learned When My Best Friend Got Pregnant In High School

In this world where you can be anything: be a friend (and be a good one).

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Life: full of amazing, unforeseen circumstances. How you roll with the punches only reveals your strength.
True friends are like diamonds: bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style." -Nicole Richie

I remember when I first heard the big news. I didn't want to believe it. My heart dropped. I was worried for you. What would happen? How would you get through this? Nothing we knew would ever be the same. Our world was about to change forever. I recalled the verse Isaiah 41:10, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." I knew God was with you and would always be. I knew God needed me to be here for you, no matter what.

Turns out, you had this all in the bag. You handled everything with grace and dignity. You were strong even on your hardest days. You were overwhelmed with faith and you inspired me with your perseverance through the hardest times. I could not be more proud of who you became because of the cards you were dealt.

To Meaghan: I love you. I'm always here, no matter where. Hudson is so lucky to have you.

Here's what I learned from you and your sweet baby boy:

1. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT the end of the world

Start making plans for the future. Pick out clothes, decorations, and toys. Help with all the madness and preparation. She would do the same for you. Plus, 9 p.m. runs to Toys-R-Us just to buy the baby some socks (because you do not know the gender yet) is always a good idea. You have to focus on the big picture. Life doesn't stop even when you want to.

2. No matter how much you want to freak out, remain calm

Getting unexpected news is never easy to hear. If needed, cry. Cry until you cannot anymore. Then, get up and be strong, she needs you. Be flexible (You want to come over to hang out? Right now? No, I'm not in the middle of ten thousand things, come on over). Be available (yes, even for her 3 a.m. insomnia calls just to see "what's up?") "Meaghan, why are you even awake right now?"

3. Radiate positivity. Always. 

This is an emotional time. The LAST thing she needs is someone bringing her down. "No, honey, you're glowing!" "You do not look fat in that bikini!!" "You are rocking that baby bump!" "Oh, that's your the third day in a row you're eating a Sonic burger for lunch? You go girl!"

4. Be ready for all the times: happy, confusing, stressful, sad, (but mostly) exciting

Mixed emotions are so hard, but look for the silver lining. With your support, she will be strong.

"Who knew picking out the brand of diapers to buy was so stressful?"

5. This world is a scary place. You never want to be all alone, so don't be. 

Like the song says, we, really do, all need someone to lean on. Just being there for someone goes a long way. "Meaghan what the heck are you doing in MY bed? How long have you been here?"

6. Lean on God. His plan is greater than we could ever imagine. 

When you don't know where to go, or who to turn to, pray! Pray for the burdens you feel. Pray for the future. Pray for patience. Pray for the ability to not grow weary. Pray for a heart of compassion. Pray. Pray. Pray.

7. Something we never knew we needed. 

Some of the best things in life are things we never knew we needed. Who knows where we would be without this sweet face?

"Hudson say Lib. Libby. L-- Come ON!" "CAT!" "Okay, that works too."

8. "Mother knows best"...is accurate, whether you believe it or not

Turns out, seventeen-year-olds don't know how to plan baby showers. Our moms have been there, done that. They want to be involved just as much as we do, so let them! Listen to their guidance. After all, they're professionals.

9. There will *almost always* be a "better way" of doing something...but, be a cheerleader, not a critic 

This is something many people struggle with in general, but it is not your DNA, it is not your place to be a critic. Let her raise her own baby. You are there to be a friend, not a mentor. ****Unless she's about to name the baby something absolutely terrible -- for the love of that baby, don't let her name that kid something everyone hates.

10.  At the end of the day, it's not what you have or what you know; rather, it is all about who you love and those who love you

Life has adapted, but for the better. We grew up, learned, and became stronger. All the while, we stayed friends every step of the way. We still have the same fun and most definitely, the same laughs.

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The Art Of Loving What We Can’t Have

We really do love to break our own hearts, don't we?

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I'll never forget the first time I looked in the mirror with fire in my lungs begging myself to stop the insanity that is loving things that don't love me. When I choose to love, I do so selflessly. I have never loved to be loved in return. I'm sure you can see where this becomes problematic…

Most of us are selfish. We don't just love selfishly, but our entire beings are riddled with selfishness. It's like a plague. Humanity by nature is so self-minded that they can't even begin to imagine the pain they are capable of causing. If we can't have something, we chose not to love it. We choose to turn our backs and be cold. We do so for selfish reasons. The fear of unrequited love, the fear of pain, the fear of transparency; they are crippling.

Did you ever think that maybe simply not being able to have something, doesn't mean it didn't love you back? Did your mother ever tell you that you can't always have everything you want? Did she lead you to believe this meant she loved you less?

I broke my own heart in two the night I had to let the caterpillar-turned-butterfly leave and be free. I watched it grow, I provided it with what it needed, but yet it still left. Five years old and I could not breathe because the pain from loving this small creature had closed off my throat in flames of knowledge I would come to discover in the future. I didn't stop loving it so I would hurt less, I loved it through the pain because everything on this earth deserves to be loved. Can you imagine what a human could do to me?

I broke my heart again when the man I loved couldn't stay. Not because he didn't want to, but because he had to, as life goes. There was no malice, there was no falling out, there was only grief. Grief for what I loved, and would still love, even when it was gone.

Loving is meant to be selfless, but loving one who does not love you back may be the most selfless thing on this earth. I went back to the mirror, fire in my lungs—this time I let the tears roll, quietly and softly down my face, onto my neck, feeling the fire just beneath the skin. I let myself feel my heartbreak. I did not scream, I did not sob, I simply felt what I felt.

I broke my own heart, but I took the pain because I would rather love what does not love me than never know love at all. What if they do love you back? My answer is simple; if you have loved, who loves you back matters little. You will always be loved in return—everyone is loved by someone. Everyone deserves this.

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