“When you feel life coming down on you like a heavy weight,
When you feel this crazy society adding to the strain,
Take a stroll to the nearest waters and remember your place;
Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came.”
—Xavier Rudd, “Follow the Sun”
A few days ago, I contemplated leaving.
Wednesday, I walked to my last class of the day, situated in the Bitsy Irby building on the outskirts of campus, and felt the urge to just keep walking on and on into the horizon. I played with the fantasy of becoming a nomad who picked up small jobs for money and never stayed anywhere too long. The idea of just walking into the west, taking nothing but the bag I had slung around my shoulders and the travel mug in my hand and the clothes on my back, was so tempting that it was almost too hard to resist. I had to stop in front of Bitsy Irby and take a few deep breaths just to bring myself back to reality.
Thursday was spent in a bog of bubbling frustration just covered up by a mask of apathy. When people asked how I was, I said “stressed out” in the most joking way I could manage. I’ve never felt the need to burden strangers or sort-of friends with my problems. Still, people noticed. I’ve never been that good at hiding when I’m upset, and I had to resist the urge to punch the elevator call button in the library when I went back up to the second floor. With every second that ticked by, I was sure a panic attack was going to explode in my chest in response to the build-up of tension. It never came, somehow.
And today—today is different.
I’m relaxed, happy. I’ve been laughing all morning, and I don’t know what changed. I was angry and frustrated and stressed out all week. My anxiety was through the roof yesterday. In terms of mood change, I did feel a sort of shift last night, but I thought it was just because I got Arby’s and played Overwatch all night and gave myself a chance to relax. I thought it was a momentary thing and that I would wake up frustrated again this morning, but I didn’t.
Now, in the absence of that stress and anxiety, I am free to think of the future with a clear head. I can see what I must do, and I am going to do it. Tonight, I have plans to sit at Cups with a friend of mine and work on projects left unfinished, and I’m not worried about any of it anymore. In fact, I have felt so happy and content today that I almost fell asleep outside earlier, situated at a small table under the warm Mississippi sun.
Kim Taeyeon, one of my favorite Korean artists, has a song titled “I” in which she sings: “I had difficult times / but I followed a small light”, and I could not agree more. Difficult times will always come, but I can get through them.
Graduation looms on the horizon, nowhere near as threatening as it seemed a few days ago. Summer is solid in its place, and the question “what will you do after graduation?” doesn’t scare or frustrate me anymore. I don’t have to decide now, at this very moment, what I will do a few months or years from now. The future is still just that—the future.
And I am at peace.