Friday, September 19, 2014

Kites in the Wind

Yesterday, I flew a stunt kite, by which I mean I repeatedly crashed a stunt kite into the ground while my patient and wonderful roommate counseled me: "Don't step back. Use less force. Stay steady and don't try to control things too much."

And, after a thoughtful moment, "This is a really convenient metaphor for college, isn't it?"


On Tuesday I moved into Stanford. For privacy's sake I won't say which dorm or describe the people with whom I am living, save that both are awesome.

I thought that I'd be overwhelmed with excitement the way I was at Admit Weekend, or else horrendously homesick, but instead I feel calm about the whole thing. Maybe this is a delayed reaction, and the first week of classes I'll have a nervous breakdown over how much I want to see my cat. Or maybe I'm just incapable of strong feelings one way or another.

Oh, I am happy to be here, and I have missed some individuals, but I think I could get used to Stanford quickly, if I haven't already. It's not home yet, and I still get flashes of impostor syndrome, but I can make my place here. Just give me time.


This whole summer I've longed for my independence, and now that I'm here, I have in fact noticed some changes to my behavior or attitudes.

First, I worry a lot. I like to have things planned out, and I like to know what I am doing now and next. While I can take ambiguity of ideas, an ambiguous schedule is distressing.

"Don't hold the strings too tightly. Small motions are enough."

Thus, my daily journaling has become more important than ever. I find that I need a certain amount of time each day to sit down and write out events of the day, going over what happened and what needs to or will happen next. Calendars, schedules, to-do lists: I need them all kept up to date in order to feel comfortable going to sleep.

I haven't worked on Ubermadchen since Monday, and that's a bit worrying given how much momentum matters when writing a story, but this part is so relevant to me that I don't think I'll be able to stop myself writing it. Hopefully I will be able to carve out some time this weekend.

Second, I'm more okay asking for help--just not from my parents. If I ask my parents for help then I'm regressing to a child's role, but if I ask the campus bike store employee to lower my bike seat so I don't endanger others then I'm simply compensating for my lack of expertise. There is no shame in asking for help as long as it's just help, and you're not asking for someone else to solve your problems.

"Don't worry about me. Don't worry about the kite, either. Don't worry in general."

Third, I am still not social. Yeah, you hear advice to meet everyone and make tons and tons of friends in the first few days, never to walk alone, never to close your door. And I do participate in the flurry of introductions, I do turn to people and ask "Have we met?"

But I know a little of how I operate in the social world and I know that I 1) don't make the best first impressions 2) become friends with people gradually. So yes, I'm meeting people, but aside from my cohabitants (whom I have immediately decided I like) I am reserving judgment because I would like people to reserve judgment on me.

Everyone is cheerful and nice when exchanging name/hometown/dorm/prospective major info over the lunch table, but I'm going to have to see who people are when they're talking about more substantial things.

Also, there's the small matter of my sanity. I am an introvert. I'm probably a bit defensive about this part of my identity since it's the part that the most people have tried the most enthusiastically to dismantle (hello, parents), but I need alone time. I need space to think my thoughts instead of worrying about keeping my conversation partner interested. If I don't get this time then I will be miserable.

(In fact I am a bit sick, and this might be from being around so many people. It's just draining even if you're enjoying yourself.)

This, then, is how I am with independence: calm but worried, desirous of control but willing to admit when I need someone else's skills, solitary but willing to give people a chance. Including, perhaps, myself.


It is humbling to be here. It will feel more humbling once classes start. But neither the admissions office nor I made a mistake. I'm here. That's all.

"Just let the wind do its work."

Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Go Cardinal.

1 comment:

  1. Have fun in your first year!

    Go Bears! Fiat lux! See you at the Big Game!