Last week, as part of my job, I was in attendance at a seminar for high school students and their parents on the transition from high school to college. I wasn’t really listening – I’m only there in case something goes wrong – but the lecturer caught my attention when she talked about the pros and cons of starting out at a two year school and transferring to a four year school. (Which is what I did, incidentally).
She made a lot of great points, but here’s the essence what hit me in the face: transfer students are less likely to get involved with campus activities and organizations. Why? Because they don’t want to have to get involved only to have to readjust somewhere else when the next transition comes. Hypothetically, not being involved makes the transition easier.
Yeah, I thought that was interesting, too.
Obviously, this doesn’t hold true for all transfer students. In fact, I’m sandwiched between two brothers who did the whole transfer thing, and they were both highly involved in campus activities and organizations – my younger brother still is. Anywhere they go in life, they sort of just dive in.
On the other hand, I hold back. With a few notable exceptions, this is how I have lived my life. After all, if I have to make transitions, why not make them as easy on myself as possible? Except living life this way doesn’t actually make things easier at all. It’s made it much, much harder, and I’m realizing it much, much too late.
I could blame it on being an introvert (which, I am), but the truth is, I’m actually very good at establishing and building relationships. I would never go as far as to say I’m outgoing, but I’m definitely relational.
How is it, then, that I find myself dealing with some of the heaviest circumstances in my life up to this point, with no friends in a forty mile radius?
I’m afraid of being misunderstood. I’m afraid of telling you exactly what’s going on, and having your response be, Why didn’t you…? or, All you have to do is… Trust me, I am deeply aware of how preventable my situation was, and how my life needs to change going forward.
I’m afraid of burdening you. However preventable my situation was, there are things that led me to make certain decisions that you have no idea about. They are ugly things, things I don’t like to talk or even think about because they make me sad and angry and occasionally sick. I’m afraid that if it’s too big for you, I might pull you down with me. If I pull you down with me, you may never speak to me again.
I’m afraid of trusting you. I am terrified of hearing an overly-simplistic solution from you when you hear my story; that you’ll expect me to process and heal in your time and your way, when you don’t understand the layers of what I’ve been through, and how it comes back in waves, and when I don’t, then comes distance.
And I’m so deeply afraid of that distance.
As much as I’ve tried to prevent it, though, I find myself distanced in all of my human relationships today, whether it’s physical distance, or emotional. All because I thought I would make life easier on myself this way.
Where do I go from here?
To start, I’m taking my life off hold. I’m going to take a cue from my brothers, and just dive in – right here, right now. I’m not going to worry about when I’m going to Seattle (might be September, might be a year from September, or ten years – I really can’t say right now), I’m going to make myself at home here and just see what happens.
Because my life is not going to magically come together and relationships are not going to materialize out of thin air. This life, relationships – they have to be fought for.
Two are better than one: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
~variations on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
And for good measure, Fight Song by Rachel Platten