I bask in the silence of my freshly packed-up, on-campus apartment as I crunch through a $1 bag of purple grapes. I’m sitting on the floor, leaning against the closet my roommate and I shared. The closet is completely empty now, an odd sight considering the volcanoes of clothing and empty shopping bags she and I both hid behind the cream-colored double-doors.
I was the first to settle into our room back at the start of this year. Among a spontaneity-embedded weekend of taking the train between San Diego and LA, I started sorting my belongings into new homes: a haphazardly-made bed, empty hangers waiting for clothes, books on desk shelves closely following. My new roommate hadn’t moved in yet. As I sit here now, my lovely roommate has just finished moving out (big shoutout, she’s the best), my books are safely stowed away, and my bed remains half-intact for the final night of this school year.
This blog has seen a lot of change in me for a third of my life. My journals have seen that change on an even larger scale. This past year was one of the first that I have not spent the same amount of time scribbling in an attempt to capture every moment– many fleeting thoughts from this year were captured in phone note snippets, stickies clipped to string lights, and margins of molecular bio notes rather than the dotted notebook that used to be glued to my hands. Part of me attributes it to a mindset of living more in the moment, but the other part wishes I had spent more of my time with these old habits in order to keep myself more accountable with reflection. I did a lot of thinking this year, but much of that thinking was very much geared towards academics, career goals, and progress; in the past, self evaluation outside the scope of “productivity” made up a larger proportion of those thoughts.
However, I’m realizing now that sophomore year has been monumental in forcing me to confront parts of myself that could use improvement through a much more constructive lens than I’ve had with myself in the past. I can’t say that I’m objective with myself 100% of the time–this year definitely also saw emotionally-charged self-critiques in which I was not always fair with myself–but I learned more about how to work towards improvement without discounting the progress I’ve made so far.
I didn’t register how many different things happened this year until I was scrolling through my camera roll a few days ago. I had forgotten what it felt like to be Arya back in fall quarter. Looking back at my freshman year, I knew at the end that I had grown, but I didn’t feel that my sense of self had changed like I do this year. Maybe the difference is that sophomore year, along with tougher courses, also brought struggles I was numb to in the newness of freshman year: homesickness, defining friendships, and a deeper insight into the meaning of responsibilities.
I recall a night a couple weeks ago where I was going through old blog posts. I stumbled on something my sixteen-year-old self had written about trust: “Knowing where I was going– oh man, it was a good feeling. I think I’m a very direction-oriented person in the sense that I like to get from Point A to Point B…my biggest takeaway from traveling around in Barcelona was to not be afraid to rely on myself because I’m sometimes capable of more than I give myself credit for.” I proceeded to spend another chunk of time diving into every travel-centric post I had written and wallowing in gratitude and nostalgia. After poring over archives past midnight, I concluded that many supposed “lessons” I had collected back then only a marked a first step; much of my past certainty has now morphed into expectations, values, and even points of contention within myself.
I’m halfway done with college. I’ve learned, but I’m still learning– and a big part of me is still grappling with that very fact. A lot of what’s been written through this school year has been about the flow of time and my relationship to it, but I wonder if it’s time to focus on existing through every hour rather than maximizing it. This year has left me with many more questions than answers, but I think I’m okay with that.
Here’s to the cliffs and skies, backbones and blisters, and tidepools and deep-sea vents of year two. It’s been the best yet.