Every year of college has been different and has taught me incredible lessons, but if I could characterize my past year of college in one way, I would say it was my year of growing up. Not freshman year? Not the year I went out of my home state, met all new people, and tackled college classes for the first time? Not sophomore year? Not the year I left my family and friends behind to live in a new country, and re-learned an entire culture? I certainly was exposed to a long list of different things and was forced to grow up in those years, but junior year has been my year of deepest growth. I’ve felt like it was a year of taking all the experiences I’ve had so far and putting them together. There is something more insightful in discovering how you react in the familiar rather than the unfamiliar – when you aren’t constantly reacting to new stimulations you have the chance to understand how you react in the pattern. You learn your true passions, fears, frustrations, and are able to combine them all into a clearer picture of yourself. It has taken a great deal of introspection, but finally being comfortable has allowed me to get uncomfortable with myself. Here are a few things I have realized about myself this year, and am starting to accept:
I will always be the one who cares. No doubt my constant frustration throughout my life. If no one will figure it out, Kendall will work hard enough to. If no one wants to do it, Kendall will do it. If no one will come through on this, Kendall will! I have always operated under the assumption of when I get here, things will be different. If I worked at a different gym…Once I get out of high school and into college….when I get out in the working world…I believed if I found the right environment it could be different. I have finally realized NO, it will never be different! It has taken many days of feeling like I’m alone in a room screaming “Why am I the only one who cares about anything?” for me to accept that I will always be that person. I have to stop waiting or expecting it to get better. It is part of what makes me who I am, and I’m certainly never going to be able to or want to change that.
I will always be restless. I will always want to meet more people, I will always want to learn to a deeper level, I will always want to travel often, I will always want to be a better person. I am never going to feel satisfied sitting still. I have learned to become comfortable with the un-satiated urgings of my soul.
Learning is a priority. Many of my frustrations this year have stemmed from classes where I felt I haven’t been learning as much as I could. At the end of my internship last summer, my supervisor warned me I would start to become bored in my upcoming classes as he was in undergrad. I figured he didn’t know what he was talking about – we were two different people, two different schools, how can you compare us — but he was right. I can learn from any avenue – it doesn’t have to be classes. I love listening to my podcasts on subjects ranging from economics to psychology to technology – and finding videos on things I am even more interested in. I will read long research papers online or scour the internet to read about a topic I am interested in. Satisfying my thirst for learning is a priority, and I have realized I quickly become unhappy otherwise.
How I define the word “successful.” This is something I have wrestled with often this year. Being in a career-oriented major, it is easy to start thinking about how you’re going to climb the career ladder, how much money you’re going to make, what you want to do with it…. But putting my focus there is going to guarantee my life will only be spent and wasted. Our culture’s definition of successful can’t make anyone happy long-term; this is a fact everyone knows yet most don’t face in daily life. The success we find is in how we touch those around us and how we live on through these interactions. What will make me feel my greatest intrinsic worth is if I talk to people and really listen, if I support and help others, love and avoid judgment… being the one who hears the needs people don’t say out loud.
I need to face problems head on. They say if you don’t like it, you should change it. My problems can’t define who I am; but how I react to these problems does. Some people can set their problems on a shelf and eventually they will disappear. My mind simply doesn’t work this way. They will grow on that shelf while I become increasingly frustrated and sometimes act out inappropriately as a result. I am extremely good at confrontation and being honest, and it is time I let that work for me and tackle problems directly and quickly.
Women are different than men. I haven’t wanted to admit this, but the subject has kept coming up in my life for various reasons. Once I started paying close attention to what I heard, books I read, or the experiences of myself, I started learning a lot about these differences. I have learned that the men who seem to understand things faster are just less likely to admit that they don’t. I have learned that it is still very hard for most men to accept help from a woman. And I have learned that characteristics seen as favorable in men are looked at negatively in women – and there is a great deal of work left to combat that mindset.
It is okay to feel happier in a relationship. I have always wanted to be happiest on my own, convinced that I did not need someone else to make me happy – which is perfectly healthy. I certainly do NOT need someone else to make me happy or complete me. But it is okay to admit that someone can actually make me happier than I would be without them. This is a scary realization – it only makes the idea of being alone in the future that much harder. Accepting this truth, however, has made me appreciate the relationship I have so much more. I am lucky enough to have found someone that has helped me search myself this year, engaged in countless conversations on these topics or problems relating to these topics, and helped come to the above realizations with me.