Settling In

Change is weird. The process of adjusting to massive change is fairly strange in and of itself. The rare individual thrives on change. However, the majority of humanity, we like our routines, our familiar people and places. There is comfort in what is known. At heart, most of us aren’t real risk takers so we stick with what we know and trust.

What does one do when change does come? How do you rebuild the familiar without exhausting yourself, or being uber frustrated, in the meantime? Life is a weird mix of new and old right now. My clothes are the same. I’m making myself the same kinds of food (mostly, shopping is still a challenge). I still have text messages from friends. The ridiculous and the fabulous still fills my social media feeds. I’m doing homework.

On the flip side of those familiar things is so much new stuff. New school. New classes. New people. New church. Trying to build new friendships. New professors. News ways of doing dang near everything – laundry, grocery shopping, transportation ANYWHERE, printing documents, finding books. It takes so much more effort to do all the mundane tasks of life in a new place. That is the comfort of familiarity- not having to think about the HOW, or WHERE, or WHEN or with WHOM. You know you’ve settled in when all those elements no longer take effort. You’ve arrived.


When surrounded by new we seek comfort in the familiar. I was out walking the other day, because nature and trees feels familiar no matter where you are, and the distinct odor of horses wafted to me on the breeze. Folks, this is deeply familiar to me, even after all these years away from a barn. I met this lovely fellow and for a few brief moments, as he licked the salt from my skin, there was a different kind of peace. The encounter was a touchstone that helped calm some of the emotional toil the last few weeks have wrought.


Now that classes have begun and I’m trying to find a rhythm, the whole “I’m not going home anytime soon” feeling is starting to knock on the door of my brain. This of course triggers twinges of homesickness. Thus far I’ve successfully avoided this plague thanks in large part to processing all the new stuff around me. So it appears I’ve entered the next stage of adapting to change. While pretty much everything still takes a whole lot of mental effort- I’ve managed to figure out just enough of the daily necessities to give my brain a tiny window for obsessing over what I’m missing. Oh. Lovely. It hit pretty hard yesterday and I had a little cry over my breakfast. So glad none of my multitudinous flatmates walked in at that moment.


The cliche about “Its a marathon, not a sprint” is totally true in my case. This is only a year program (to those of you taking bets on my not returning…I see you…), but I need to remember I’ve been here barely two weeks. I have to allow enough time for familiarity to develop. Settling – in the best way possible – takes time.


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