The nights before I went abroad this past fall, I tossed and turned in my bed, thinking of the weeks and months before me and watching my small flicker of excitement drown in a growing ocean of fear. For me, just as for many I know, the time abroad stood before me as a giant cloud of seething, unknown potential. And frankly, potential frightened the dickens out of me. Up until the time I boarded the plane I thought I’d have been much happier, thank you very much, with the known: my classes, professors and friends at SNC.
But I got over that fear as the potential of the future turned into the day-to-day experience of the past and I came to find that I could handle nearly everything that was put before me. I began to realize that the scary thing about potential isn’t that it is unknown, but that it can very easily disappoint. In my head I could do everything,, but when I woke up every morning in London, I could only follow a single course of action for the day, always hindered by time, obligations for classwork and my ever-diminishing pocketbook.
I opened my eyes to the reality that even in a world of unlimited possibility, I could only do so much, only do one thing at a time. All I could do was welcome my capabilities for each day, and to be as fully engaged and fully content with that day as I could be.
That’s probably the biggest lesson my time abroad taught me, because I came to see it as applicable not only to my final months at SNC, but how I can live my life after graduation.
Because every day gives us this world of possibility of which we can only choose one road. De Pere may not seem as exciting as London, but there is a fruitful and vibrant world hiding beneath the seams. At any given moment, we do not have to succumb to Facebook and tedium. Worthwhile activities are available to us at any given time. We hold the power to turn De Pere – or wherever we end up – into a London of its own. When we are fully aware that our time and energies are limited, the abyss of the future is not a question mark to fear but rather a power to harness. Fear and roadmaps and answers to every question – these are for the weak.
And as for the world outside of SNC, the future can seem even more daunting as April slips into May. I and my fellow graduates may feel as though the comfort of SNC would be much more preferable than whatever it is we are doing next, but the thing is, if SNC was comfortable for us, maybe we weren’t doing it right.