I’ve been saying that this year is going to be “my year.” I don’t quite know why I just “have a feeling.” But something, rather someone, recently rained on my parade. A lot. His name is Harvey.
Going into my junior year of college I feel like I (somewhat) have it figured out. I no longer am that freshman using the UT app to help navigate my way around the 40-acres or obliviously asking, “wait, what’s Canvas?” However one feeling will remain constant. Walking into that classroom on the first day I always feel like the person next to me is fifteen assignments ahead. When I mutter, “can I borrow a sheet of paper?” the put-together student rolls his eyes at me and begrudgingly agrees. I always feel like I’m drowning. No matter how much I prepare and no matter how old I get, I without fail get that feeling during the first week of school.
Then some guy barged into my already-hectic week: Harvey. Being from Houston, I never quite understood the gravity of the situation until I saw pictures of my city—familiarity swimming under high tides. Heroic and horrific headlines paint the picture for those of us who cannot fully understand. Local Saves Family of Five. Hurricane Harvey Among Costliest, Deadliest in U.S. History. So as I sit here at the University, happy healthy safe and dry, I can’t help but feel deep compassion for all those affected in Houston. The first week back at school may give all of us a mini-anxiety attack because of that I’m already so behind and I’m only six minutes into my second class feeling. Instead, imagine if your favorite childhood memory washed away. Or imagine getting a phone call from your Mom saying, “Sweetie, our house just isn’t going to be okay.”
After Harvey forced himself into our headlines I realized the outpour of sympathy and care. Floods may evaporate but the damage remains. Whenever I say “Oh yeah, I’m from Houston.” The immediate follow-up questions are said with a true drop of sincerity: “Is your family okay? I’m so sorry to hear about everything.”
Yes, I believe this year may still be “my year” despite all the mini-anxiety attacks and borrowed sheets of paper. However, I also believe there is now a necessary shift in this mantra. Harvey, my friend, you’ve taught me something valuable. This year can be “our year,” and by “our” I mean everyone’s. Everyone is drowning in some way or another. Whether it’s drowning under the pressure of school or swimming in stress over the water-damage to your house.
Everyone always has something. It’s imperative we recognize that no matter how deep the water, everyone’s just trying to swim.