With the end of another semester on the horizon, change is undoubtedly around the corner for many. Jessica Yin considers the nature of dwelling and whether or not it’s really all that bad.
I’m a dweller. Not necessarily on things that have passed, but on every action and what it means for the future. I think and overthink each decision because I know how connected everything is, and that life is just a game of dominos in which one thing leads to another, which leads to another, which falls even faster towards an eventual end you didn’t even know you had set in motion.
With many of my friends registering for graduation, getting married, and otherwise approaching turning points and milestones in their lives, it has made me think that perhaps the word ‘dwelling’ doesn’t need to be spoken with such disgust. Sometimes you simply reach a point in life in which you question everything that has come before and everything that is yet to come. You laugh at all the decisions you’ve made in the past, at all the silly fashion choices and equally silly life-defining mistakes. But to sit here and have the luxury to look about yourself and marvel at the distance you have advanced is to have the ability to move forward, to separate its tragedies and its comedies from the present day. We all make mistakes and our stories are bound to be filled with reckless decisions and painful lessons learned, but they help shape us into flawed and imperfect people who are a little more experienced and a little more prepared for the world that stretches out beyond us like a foggy field. We may not be indestructible but we are resilient; those friends who betrayed us, those loves that never flared, those rejections that shook our confidence…they are all trials that pass and we emerge from them stronger than ever, and sometimes pissed off as hell. But anger can be good. Anger can fuel you to avoid those pitfalls in the future, to fight with the passion and determination of someone who has been at the bottom and has absolutely no desire to return to it again. To say that the past cannot scar would be as silly as claiming that the sun never sets in Boston. It does, and we each gather lenses through which we view the world that are tainted by the colors it has pelted us with.
But in our grandiose quest to find some meaning, to find our place, we need our past to guide us towards those moments and those actions that have brought us unmatchable joy. It might warn us away from the fires that burn and the poisons that kill, but it also shines a light on what pushes us to clap our hands in excitement and smile that foolish, unstoppable smile that spreads across our face like a gorgeous rainbow. When you feel it, the sense of warmth that lights you up inside, the bubbly joy that spills out of you in peals of uncontrollable laughter, you know you’ve found something worth holding on to and fighting for.
With the end of yet another academic year fast approaching, the idea of the future is a little scary. Change is pretty damn frightening. Despite being a runner and a self-professed commitment-phobe, even I have fallen into the comfort of routines and habits so much so that the idea of losing someone or something that I’ve come to rely on as a pillar of my day makes the ground beneath me shift and my world crumble a little. But here’s the thing: the world spins at 465 meters/second or 1,040 miles/hour. Our world isn’t steady and it isn’t static; it’s constantly shifting and moving beneath our feet but that’s kind of the greatest thing about life. We have the opportunity to explore the endless possibilities that exist out there; we can embark on crazy adventures and spectacular journeys to change everything we know in a heartbeat. We have the freedom to explore a number of doors, to walk down paths we might never have considered taking before. On a smaller scale, life gives us the chance to meet new people, to learn a novel skill, to join a different club, to fall in love with a beautiful stranger. The unknown sometimes feels like a mass of dark shadows or an unlit corridor, but if there was ever a time to pick up a torch and march on forwards, now is it.
So, don’t be scared and don’t be sad. Our past will be there for us to dwell on sometimes, to bring a nostalgic smile to our faces and remind us of where we’ve come from and what we’ve learned. Not everyone we meet fades into the past and even with the constantly spinning world, there are those who keep pace with us and walk with us down curvy roads and river bends. Just because the pieces of life rearrange themselves a lot doesn’t mean we have to lose the pieces; they just move into different positions, sometimes closer and sometimes farther away. Either way, we’ll survive, we’ll adjust, we’ll make new routines and fall into new relationships and this time next year, we’ll laugh and wonder what the hell we were ever worrying about. Dwelling is necessary sometimes to evaluate and make necessary choices – but never let it keep your feet still. Run, spin, and enjoy the unpredictability of life and the future, because you never know what incredible joys the next rotation may bring.
*The content of Perspective articles, as with all articles posted on the Tribe, reflects solely the views of the authors. The opinions expressed are not those of the Tribe as a publication or necessarily those of any other member of the editorial and/or writing staff*