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What I learned Outside the Classroom: Spring 2021

This past semester has felt like a small lifetime. I think about all that has happened and am in disbelief that it occurred all in such a short time. I have come to face much of myself, and in that I have grown and learn in accordance with my own nature, rather than in resistance of it.

 

My biggest lesson has been learning to play. I have never been fond of my childhood, from what I am able to remember. As I had previously explored last week in discussing shadow work, for me personally I had always denied myself the ability to have fun or to embrace any of my childlike characteristics. To permit myself to have fun without worry is something I have long struggled with. My first moment of child-like joy free from my anxiety came in February… the first big snow of the semester and my friend had taken us to a party where they had a trampoline and tire swing out back. Mads and I, at one in the morning, got to jump as the snow came down lighting up the night. I felt a sort of light joy, a sensation I had no memory of feeling.

 

I learned I am more than a few characteristics. I sat down and wrote down every single characteristic I had ever associated to myself, the list was so long, and I thought at first it was a dreadful thing. That I had no identity, but I realize that our identities are so many things, ever changing and ever fluid. We cannot sum up our character in a mere brief list of characteristics. I have learned to embrace all my different selves and understanding that in doing so I am not being fake, rather, I am remaining true to myself. I have spent a lifetime afraid of my humanity, denying myself of honoring my own desires.

 

I have learned how to be a better friend. I often struggle in friendships, due to my own insecurity. I often feel my presence is both unwanted and bothersome. Therefore, I tend to pull away from my friendships and isolate myself. I can admit I am afraid of rejection and one small thing can send me into a spiral. Rather than permitting myself to hide, I opened my self to others. While this has brought about more panic attacks than I care to admit, I am proud because I have noticed how much better I have become in social situations. In doing this I have built one of my most meaningful friendships here at school. His friendship has made me feel needed. I have never been able to rely on anyone in my life. But every night we do check ins and talk about what happened during our day. I have found having someone to talk to about those little things makes me feel less alone.

 

Starting back in December, I have woken up at 4:30 and work out at 5. Then starting back in February, I started the SMOLOV squat program which has tested me both physically and mentally beyond anything I had done before. For the first time, my focus in the gym has been strength related and unrelated to aesthetics. In reaching my goals in the gym, my stress surrounding my body has improved. I have released much of my anxiety surrounding my body in pursing strength goals. I squatted 270 pounds for my first PR.

 

 I have learned to create boundaries. Not walls, boundaries. I learned to say no without guilt or shame and to learn when it comes time to let go. For the first time, I was able to say no and not feel any need to explain or justify it. Rather, I listened to my gut and my intuition. There is so much wisdom inside me, rather than subjecting myself to the laws of man, I am learning to honor as well as protect myself.

 

Finally, I have grown to love my spirituality and faith in the universe. In rejecting traditional views and learning and thinking in a way that feel natural, I have found peace from within. Rather than attempting to answer open ended questions. I have embraced a different side to myself, one I never thought for me and while I have less answers I feel at ease.

 

 

I ask you to reflect for a moment… what has this semester taught you?

I am a Senior here at Purdue, studying Political Science and History with a minor in Economics. I am an avid environmentalist, vegan, and exercise enthusiast. I practice yoga, power lift, cycle, and play club soccer here at Purdue. I love reading, painting, and crystals.
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