I literally just vaulted over the sleeping business man in the aisle seat.
It is almost 10 Eastern Time, 30,000 ft above somewhere in the Midwest, and I am flying home from Boston for the summer. My third year at Northeastern has recently come to a close, and at this height, chasing the long and steadily-darkening sunset above the clouds, I am racked with observations and reflections.
I spent most of today running around Boston visiting friends and making sure that my belongings were taken care of for the two-month period I would be spending in California—Summer I, we call it at Northeastern. With every friend that I spent a few moments or a drink or a hug with, I gleaned a slightly different perspective on leaving, and I realize how every individual has a completely different perspective on the whole “goodbyes” thing. For one thing, this leaving isn’t permanent, and while some of my friends I may not see for a year (study abroad in different semesters, early graduation, life) others I’ll see in a matter of weeks. There are those who insisted that I literally drop my bags on Westland and sprint to Huntington and Forsyth to say goodbye for 20 seconds (while also hailing them a cab because my cab-hailing skills are paramount), and others who ‘Snapchatted’ me from New Jersey (or New Hampshire? West Coaster, sorry) like “I’m bored but I’m doing cooler things and whoops didn’t say bye see you never.” Really.
I realize also that I am a different person with every scenario and every moment. Besides the general perspective and opinion, there is very little about me that remains constant. I was talking to one particular friend a few nights ago about introversion and extroversion, and the fact that I score in both extreme and moderate categories in both directions depending on when I take the test (we’re talking personality tests and the like here). Granted, all tests are different, but I also feel as though my mindset is amorphous, and my personality is a direct reflection of my present thought. My [quite intelligent] friend commented that thus was our nature, and that everyone is some sort of mix between the two. I agree. I think we’re all a mix of individualities that form patterns of who we are, and these patterns are often what others create to define us. But we aren’t always what others see, and sometimes the patterns can be misleading. We are a balance of imbalances, and not the average, but the entire scale.
I am hardly ever the strongest personality in the room. I can be, when the situation calls for it or I read it as such, or when I have a strong opinion on something, but I tend to adapt more, and I feel in part this is because nothing about me that I could say is accurate. I cannot possibly reduce my entire being into words, and the words that come out only express a small fraction of who I am. And the patterns you glean from these words will not be accurate. My opinions of myself change almost overnight, and what I tell you tonight as fact—I am an introvert—will tomorrow become at best a misunderstanding and at worst a misleading lie. It is a dangerous line to toe, and I find it altogether safer to remain in the gray zone, not be known, even when all that I long for is for someone to know me.
This isn’t to say I don’t have friends (I do! I promise!). I just think that to a certain extent we are all searching for the authentic person we are, not realizing that we are a sum of all parts while also determining exactly who we will be. Perhaps growing up is a process of solidification, maturity a process from a life of fluid uncertainty to one of crystalline structure. Or maybe it’s choosing what to share, what is important, what to let flow. I couldn’t possibly know. I turned 21 last weekend. There is so much life I have yet to live.
As I reflect on my third year of college, I am struck by how much my idea of college has changed. As a freshman, I remember thinking of how college would change me, like a puppeteer sent to mold its students into wiser, smarter, more impressive beings. To be honest, I didn’t realize that I would have to work hard—that was a mistake—or that college itself, the classes and the successes, would not be the biggest teacher. I have learned so much more from unmeasured failure than I have from measured successes, and I never glean insight from where I expect to. This isn’t to say going to college is any sort of a waste; I know many people who debate and justify the value of higher education and expensive undergraduate degrees, and I am not going to have that argument. You can be whomever you want to be, and this is solely your choice. I believe that every person has to potential to identify their ideal self and strive for that personal perfection. But college—and increased successes—provides an opportunity to be whatever you want to be. Not everyone has this luxury. Who you are is how you adapt to your situations and what you do with the cards you’ve been dealt. What you are is an attempt to deal your own cards.
We are all slowly cooling from our boiling immaturity to seemingly solid individuals. Decide yourself what shape you wish to form, but don’t rush. You can’t possibly know who that person is yet, and discovery is part of the process. And keep in mind that everyone is different, and that every person will be different at different times of their lives.
Who knows if I’ll agree with this tomorrow.
10 minutes after writing:
Blogging gives me a lot of peace of mind. It’s like my brain has settled and the thoughts are there and I don’t have to mull it over anymore. Now I’m bored. What am I going to do for the next 3 hours? Maybe I should hop over the business man again and run around the plane.
Case and point: I am simultaneously someone who thinks and writes about things and someone who has the worst ideas ever. Let the record stand.