Monday morning I dashed into my favorite local coffee shop on my way to school, expecting to grab my coffee and maybe read for a few minutes before I went in to work on our research project. But when I opened the door I was greeted by an old mentor of mine, with her new, sweet baby girl. Such a surprise, and it caught me totally off guard. So, instead of reading, I got to hear about her growing family, the ebb and flow of the campus ministry she works with, and recall a few fond memories of when I was an undergrad student.
It's hard to explain, but after we talked I sat down with my coffee and realized, very intensely, just how different I am now than I was when she and I used to spend a lot of time together. Five years ago, she knew a girl trying to navigate her way through school, and wasn't doing a very good job of it. I'm sure just like many of you guys, I was totally unsure of the direction I wanted to go in. It was so hard for me to make some of my decisions that I began shutting down. Sophomore year was one of the hardest, darkest times of my life, simply because I didn't know how to ask for help, but I also didn't know what I needed. I just kept doing and functioning, but couldn't feel settled. I kept it inside. I sat alone trying to work things out in my brain for hours on end until even less made sense than when I had started. I struggled with big-picture ideas like justice, faith, kindness, hope and friendship. I didn't feel like I even knew how to be "me" anymore.
So, I left school for awhile. I took risks. I asked questions. I came back to school. I took some more risks. I went to counseling. I did things I had been too afraid to do for years (i.e. date a boy). I met people. I learned (again) that we're all more similar than we may ever know. And I remembered what it felt like to be alive - to be me.
Now that I'm older, taken so many risks, and learned the value of asking for help when I need it and involved others in my decisions and dreams and hopes, it seemed sort of odd to see my old mentor again. I wonder what it was like for her to see me now, starting grad school, able to speak with excitement and passion about my studies and what I've been up to the last couple years. And, on my end, this entire moving experience has really just been sort of surreal. It's like I'm able to navigate my way through old familiar streets, and eat foods I haven't eaten in years, and see friendly faces from years ago, but, I'm so different. It's almost like reliving a season all over again.
I dont know why I wrote this. I just sat down and it came out, so I hope it's helpful for you, or I hope, if nothing more, that you're reminded of the opportunity you have to grow in the deepest areas that you feel stuck or immobilized. (Maybe it's being in the social work classroom again, but I'm feeling all empowered or something.) haha
Have you ever revisited an old location and felt strangely older and wiser?