It seems like my contributions to this online journal have become weekly rather than bi and tri weekly like they were in the beginning. Greece is still great for lack of more precise terminology. The weather becomes increasingly warmer everyday. The climate is breezy- I can feel the air swelling with the scent of fresh plant life as oxygen pulses from the mountains. The city is a thick cloud of congestion- but when I get a chance to walk by the water near the Aegean or scale the dense, rocky hills at school I can feel the earth swelling an pulsating under the pressure of my feet. It’s as if the immenence of spring radiates from every corner of the terrain. Greece is trying to tell me something, but I don’t yet have the tools to listen yet.
Everything else is business as usual- which is both good and bad. I feel entirely integrated into normal life again. But with that return to normalcy, the temporary barrier created by a novel situation is wearing off. I’m no longer immune to the stress of everyday life. Trying to find balance is stressful- knowing that my soul wants to go out, but my brain argues against it. Trying to live in the “moment” yet being forcefully reminded of responsibilities. But I guess this is life in a microcosm, right? That’s what it’s all about- balance.
I have to admit, something has been bothering me.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough for myself. Friends at home are so involved whether it be as the president of a student organization, leaders of their fraternity, pageant winners, All-star students or simply participating in extra-curriculars. Some are applying for internships, some are applying to be USF ambassadors.
But what am I doing, and what have I done in college so far? I take a long pause when I ask myself that question. One thing that I’ve said before and I’ll maintain is that I will NOT join an organization or devote myself to something that I’m not enthusiastic to do. I will not do something that I’m not totally devoted to. I don’t want to do activities for the sake of resume building, solely with graduate school in mind. That’s so narrow-minded. I have a feeling that when people join organizations, sometimes they don’t ask “how can this improve my life”. Rather, they ask, “how can this improve my appearance” or “how can I appear more benevolent/intelligent/well-rounded than I really am?” Is this pessimistic? I don’t think so- I think it’s realistic. My main goal is to be real with myself first, and let the world catch up. I picked my major, communication, purely because I like the subject. I don’t know how it will correlate to grad school (a nd where/if I will go to grad school in the first place)- I don’t know how it will look and I don’t care.
Last summer I had the opportunity to become more involved at USF, but instead I chose to train for two bodybuilding shows. This was the most mentally and physically testing endeavor I’ve encountered to date. Bodybuilding has nothing to do with it- the sport or genre of activity is just the vessel that brought me closer to the true prize: actualization. The biggest battle I’ve ever fought was with myself. Before last summer, I’d never devoted myself to something so completely. I’d never gone to sleep and woken up with the same thoughts. I truly wrung the fibers of my being until they were dry and weary. I denied myself so much more than food. I isolated myself. I felt alone and tired. Discouraged and disgusted- yet I kept going. I doubted myself everyday, but I was persistent. I questioned my own integrity, devotion and self worth. But at the end of the day, the only person that could answer to my worries was me. This may sound crazy, but in a way I felt like I could channel God. Or maybe I was my own God. As if I alone was in complete control of my destiny. There were rare glimpses of character when I felt my mental fortitude so strong that I could change the course of the universe or history on a whim. It felt so good to know that I had that sort of passion for something. The point is, I don’t know where else in my life I’ll be able to have that kind of drive, but at least I know I’m capable of it. I do not believe everybody is capable of that- so I pride myself on it. I’m also an NANBF champion. The hard work paid dividends. And I was ripped to the bone. Pretty cool.
The decision to come to Greece was selfish, I admit it. Again, I passed up the opportunity to become more involved in my community to serve a greater goal: serving myself. It’s not that I intend to avoid my community. I just don’t feel like I can give back to it until I actually know what I have to give. I need to know how I react in untested situations, what I do in times of crisis, how I deal with deal with defeat. Knowing these personal aspects rather that merely speculating will make me a more solid person. I’ll be able to back up my talk and walk the walk. I’ll have evidence of my own limits/tolerance from previous situations.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s harmful to stay inside the university “bubble”. College makes things so easy. You have a schedule, there are organizations to join, you get automatic friends and for the most part, guaranteed acceptance within some subset of the university population. Hell, you even have advisors to tell you exactly what steps to take if you are confused. Is that real life? The system is set up to make you feel successful and accomplished, but not have much to base that success on. Everything seems easier when you have an entire support system at your disposal. I was just getting fed up with the fact that I really didn’t know what I would do without all that extraneous help. When I arrived in the airport at Thessaloniki, I couldn’t read the signs, nobody spoke English and I couldn’t find my ride. When I went to use the phone, I realized I didn’t have the right tender, I couldn’t understand the operator and on top of that I wasn’t sure if that annoying beep I heard was supposed to be a dial tone. I couldn’t even make a simple phone call. I consider myself intelligent- am I that sheltered? Tell me, where, in this brief crisis, does all that success training at school kick in? Ahh, I suppose since I spearheaded the Honors College fundraising drive for the American Cancer Society, this should be a breeze! Good thing I was involved with my community! Wrong. Once again, I’m not putting down community involvement. It’s essential to a positive, evolving society. I just don’t think it’s the key to self discovery. When you bury yourself in organizations that give you roles and titles, how can you ever discover your own role? How can you make your own way when you are just walking down the beaten path? I’ll tell you one thing, nothing else matters when you are stranded, wide-eyed and nervous in a foreign land. Nobody cares that your organization works for youth empowerment or put 27 turkeys on the table last Thanksgiving. How are YOU going to find your way home?
This is my little piece of actualization.