I’ve spent the last 12 months living in or within 3 miles of my childhood home.
After rocketing back from a summer in southern Arizona, Singapore and San Francisco — and a full, final semester at OU — I was finally ready for a change of pace from the hectic, travel-filled sprint my life had become in college.
My early September days were full of bike rides and sun-sweating sessions outside with my dad. Mom was someone I could always talk to about all the things I’d gone through at the end of the day. Part-time work at a local grocery store kept my days interesting and eventful. A new boyfriend made the weekends all the more exciting and enjoyable.
The plan was in motion, the plan was in place. It was to be a one-year stop back home, after the binds of physical ailment (yet again) plagued the fall of my senior year and caused me to question the roadmap of my own physical therapy. I would apply to grad school — per the plan — and set off to some faraway school to fulfill my dreams as an academic a year later.
Columbus was suddenly my home, yet again — but I wasn’t planning on staying for long.
And then everything just collapsed. My un-tameable ambition, my appetite for dismal environmental knowledge, my hunger for escape — disappeared, as it were never mine to hold.
Instead, I was spiraling and scratching for some semblance of my prior self … when I was clearly changing right before my eyes.
At first, I was scared of the change — even though it’s always been like me to change my mind. I suddenly didn’t recognize the girl in the mirror, the same mirror that that same little girl used to look into every day, every year, and dream one same dream.
It was dizzying. It was disorienting. To be in the same place physically, but moving mentally, is an exhausting exercise that even I am surprised I emerged from. My family and my (now) partner lovingly issued an incredible amount of patience for me in those dull winter months, even as I pitched my “perfect plans” over the rails and into the reservoir below. I was blindly steering a new ship without earning my sails yet as its captain.
I called on friends, mentors, and colleagues. I studied the inner workings of my mind, and subsequently chose to trust my instincts — my body, and my mind, were trying to tell me something I had ignored for far too long.
I quit social media — or at least cut it out of my daily life. I stopped writing weekly, a drought that my once-journalist self would have balked at before. But like a medicine no one wants to take, the hiatus I knew I needed to take.
At the start of this year, I decided: it was time to come home to myself.
Like a lotus flower emerging from the mud, my spring season was messy and trying. At times, I struggled to find full-time employment. At times, I struggled to define my daring dreams. At times, I struggled to maintain myself as a partner, and a person.
And despite the fact that I’ve sustained countless physical injuries, struggled to rise above a body-starving illness — despite the fact that I’ve overcome so much in my personal journey of self-discovery — coming home to myself has been the hardest summit I’ve ever yet climbed.
A year later, I’m now leading a new life — not better, but different. I’ve moved into a new house with my loving partner, I’ve stayed within easy driving distance of my loving and caring parents, I’ve reaffirmed old friendships and I’ve made new connections in my hometown city.
Like the sun lighting a new moon, the spark of the flame that once had me burned has ignited once again. I felt compelled to write these words to you today — a compulsion that has not tingled my fingertips like this in… well, in over a year.
I’m dancing recreationally again. I’m designing artwork and reconfiguring my website again. I’m listening to new music, I’m writing in a planner, and I’m slowly planning my future again.
The snowstorm that swept up and swept out all my unwanted (and unneeded) pledges has finally passed us, my friends. And what is left is a mound — no, a mountain — my next mountain that is waiting to be climbed.