Fear exists, but it's how you handle it that matters

I'm Afraid Of The Unknown But I'm More Excited Than Ever

With confidence and friends by my side, I know that the path that's laid out before me won't be so bad.

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Recently, I just realized that there's less than a month until I move back to college. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see friends and be on campus and everything in between. I'm excited to delve deeper into the world of the university and into my major. But here's my deal: I'm still scared.

I'm sure that if you talk to any college freshman going somewhere new and on their own, they'll likely tell you that one of their biggest fears is making friends or somewhere along the spectrum. And I, like many others, experienced some of this fear coming to life this past year. It wasn't great, but the important part is that I got through it. I'm taking on a new year, thankfully with friends by my side. I'm looking forward to branching out, knowing more about my campus/home and being more adventurous. What I am not looking forward to is the homework. Of course, this sounds like number one in every student's list of dislikes, but for once I'm scared about my schoolwork. It's a larger load, a new year and harder work, but with it comes more exciting courses.

In all of this though, what I'm trying to say won't be broken down into two words. It isn't that I'm afraid of an incompetency on my behalf; it's that I won't have time to slow down and enjoy life. It's that while it's important to accomplish what I'm doing in college to succeed later in life, I'm nervous that this will take away from my life in general. I won't be able to just lounge around, go to meetings or even keep up with all of my work, including writing for Odyssey. But in all of this, I know that the only person who can get me through this is myself. I put myself here, I'll get myself through it (maybe with a little help along the way).

But all of this weight about life is normal. Right?

We all focus too much on what's directly in front of us to appreciate what's around us, or even look out for ourselves. I was recently told that I'm really observant. Don't get me wrong, it's a part of myself that I love - being able to look around myself and see and value the little things in life - but it's also a part of me that sometimes clouds over and is oblivious to things even right in front of myself that I miss what's happening.

Although, in all of my fear, I find strength. I find courage to be adventurous and energetic and brave to face whatever comes into my path. With these in mind and knowing all of the fear that sits on a ledge behind me threatening to push me off, I am confident that while it may not be the easiest, I'm taking this year in stride. I'm pushing through the fear and excitement and looking forward to a year full of new things. A year that will push me and help me grow in who I'm slowly evolving to be. I may have just realized that my time home is coming to a temporary end, but I also know that what lies ahead will reveal a path designed for me. I know that life comes and goes. It changes and we evolve. Fear lies ahead of you, wherever you go. Any emotion, even joy, will be pushed away to only be replaced when it comes to new adventures.

With confidence and friends by my side, I know that the path that's laid out before me won't be so bad. It's normal to be afraid of new adventures, even ones that don't seem as important, but always remember to take time and look around you. Be observant, space out every once in a while and don't let fear threaten who you are or how you live life.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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