It seemed like a long time then. The applications and the interviews and the eventual acceptance of an internship 3,667 miles away seemed hypothetical for a while. I mean that was back in February, and the internship didn’t start until September? I had endless amounts of time. And now, just a few weeks away from my first breath of smoggy, I mean fresh, South American air, I’m still not convinced it’s happening.
This summer has been a limbo summer for me. I’m in that awkward post-graduate stage called small-town Mount Holly that falls somewhere in between college and the “real world.” I have a half-finished LinkedIn profile, a diploma (thanks for pouring salt in the wound, UNC) and a decent resume, but I still mark “student” as my occupation when filling out forms at the doctor or Amazon Prime or whatever it may be. I’ve clung to that identity for so long now that stripping it away feels foreign and unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a wonderful summer, and I truly believe it was what I needed before an intense internship. But after a fast-paced and fun college experience, I felt like I was coming to a painfully abrupt halt. As a result, I spent too much time either looking back and looking forward. I looked back in the sense that I missed UNC and my friends, and I wished to be back with them. I looked forward to Bolivia because then I won’t be as lonely, then I’ll be doing something productive and worthwhile. Getting me through a quiet summer were the memories of the past and the goals of the future – not the joy of the present.
It’s a weird and unnatural way to exist, reliving the past and living for the future instead of the present. And yet it’s how most of us live. Most everything we do is done with future goals in mind. And once we obtain those things, it’s about getting to the next stage. We replace our inability to predict the future with an attempt to control it. Fear manifests itself in compulsive planning, and it all too quickly becomes about not enjoying the present moment for what it’s worth but making the most of that moment to set yourself up for something later on. And ironically, the present was at one point the future that I fought so hard to get to.
It takes daily intention to walk the fine line between appreciating the past and dwelling on it, between enjoying the present and rushing it, between anticipating the future and worrying about it.
Instead of looking back or looking forward, let me look up and “fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.” You miss a lot when you don’t look up.
Countdown to Bolivia – less than four weeks.
Countdown to training in DC – less than four days.
La Paz is at an elevation of 11,913 feet. Someone buy me an oxygen mask.