#JUNIORYEAR: Floating Fragments, Past and Future

It’s been a while since I’ve done a more personal post on this blog. I’m back in college now – classes haven’t started yet, so I have a lot of time to just look around this campus and process what has taken place this summer. I’m experiencing that weird transitional zone were you don’t really want to let go of precious summer memories yet, and you are simultaneously excited and deathly afraid of a new academic year. Let’s dive in to my many emotions. Yay, emotions…

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the start of this summer at Qinghua University, China

Summer

The only way I can describe this transition period is that I feel like I am floating. As I unpacked my luggage into my new room, memories of an unforgettable summer bubbled out and floated in the air around me. A silly commemorative photo of an educational camp I participated in, a free mason jar from a Korean restaurant in Beijing, a sticker set with hilarious self-deprecating quotes like “I’m ugly so I need to read books” that I snagged for less than 25 cents… stories are concentrated in these items, and one glance makes me see a whole array of memories. I flip through my journal – 40 entries to commemorate this summer, the first and last entry all written nervously on an airplane. I feel the weight of each memory I made this summer, the bad moments and great moments – and yet, they just float around me as items in my room or words on a journal page, detached from who I am, still an inevitable part of me but also already swallowed in the past.

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The cutest group photo

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light-up mason jar given to me in Beijing

I told my boyfriend when we first set foot on campus: it felt like I never left. And what exactly does that entail? Did summer happen? Can I only view my summer in capsules of fragmented time now – so fragmented that sometimes it ceases to exist in my mind’s eye, like it never existed? And because these memories that are a part of me is fragmented, I feel fragmented as a person. That was a scary realization.

The School Year

And so, I float into junior year – into an unfamiliar living space speckled with items from very familiar memories, into forcing myself to plan for my academic and social future without a grounded sense of who I am right now. I am a person who merge into many student groups on campus and therefore never was able to lock myself into a single group of friends. Freshman year, I was part of a beautiful dorm community. Now, all my friends are floating – a friend I made freshman year here, a former high school classmate there, an activist friend, and that graduate student friend I met in this one class over there. Each friend has a different story with me, isolated from larger communities, very much sharing memories made one-on-one.

My goals begin to lose their weight as well – not the big ones, mind you. It’s more like, do I want this leadership position, this many meetings, these kinds of applications to fill out? As I get closer to the end of my undergraduate career and prepare for jumping into a life career, I wonder if I tackled the right jumping stones to my big life goal. I could have gone to this program instead of writing a research paper; I could’ve made this connection with a professor instead of rushing off to a student group meeting. School hasn’t even started yet, but I’m faced with so many choices about my future that all seem equally worthwhile and equally demanding. The fact that each choice will impact my future in some way is utterly nerve-wracking – precisely because I’m not a freshman anymore….internally, I’m scared of ‘exploring new things’ – there are simply too many new things to do and I can’t possibly know which thing is the ‘right’ thing to tackle! So I float among my choices, confused about the importance of each one.

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Me during sophomore year, getting a henna of a dragon as a reminder to treasure my ambition. Faced with an increasing amount of choices and pressured with limited college time, have I lost it? 

I think I’m subconsciously trying to balance the weight of becoming an adult with an extreme lightness about my future, a certain letting go to the point of losing control. It feels extremely weird, since I have always been drilling deep into what I want to become, knowing exactly what steps to take. But life is not like that as it progresses – choices are not as clear cut, and I need to accept that.

Phew, so that is where I am right now. Thanks to those of you who read this whole passage – I’ll keep you updated on my life (and makeup and beauty!!).

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