Reflections From the Eye of the Storm

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Last I managed to write a missive for this space I was treading water in the deep end of the writing pool, living for the deadline of June 1st for all my final term papers. As much as I wanted to spend the summer playing and traveling alas, it was not to be. As soon as term papers were submitted I jumped from the writing pool into the dissertation ocean. The vast, overwhelming dissertation ocean.

I haven’t had much time to think about anything besides my dissertation since the beginning of June. I lived and breathed research and writing. Until the four days ago. Suddenly, I was free. The dissertation was submitted with much shaking and trepidation. I shifted from the stress of completion to the utterly different–but no less stressful–anxiety of waiting for my grade. Then I was blindsided by the realization that I go back to work (aka real life) on Wednesday. I’ve known the timeline all along but I was so consumed with the dissertation work that I just did not have the mental space or emotional energy to deal with the future reality. It will be exactly one week from the end of my student life to the return to my teaching life. In between I’ve packed up my London life, flown home, cried frequently and am desperately trying to reorient myself to my old normal.

I’m so discombobulated I have no idea what is going on. I am definitely in a weirdly calm(ish) moment between the dissertation storm and the teaching storm. I am struggling to process all the change and emotions and things that need doing (soooo many things!). I was in England long enough that it truly became my new normal. The idea of returning to my old/former/previous life feels odd and foreign, precisely because it was on hold for so long. Also, I would prefer not discuss facing my storage unit at the moment either, TYVM.

I’ve moved multiple times in my life. Big moves. Cross country and cross continent moves. This scenario is entirely different. It is the longest slowest slow motion move ever. This isn’t merely changing jobs or changing cities–though those things are big and daunting and I’ve done them before–but this is none of that and more of that and all of that and something beyond that. I lived a whole year of amazing, adventurous life smack in the middle of a move that lands me right back were I started, more or less. Which is just an odd feeling on every level.

People keep asking how I feel. Conflicted? I can’t come up with a more precise answer. The joy of seeing long missed faces. Of hugs from friends. The comfort of waking from a nap (hello, jetlag nice to see you) with my feline furball snugged up to my side again. The oddity of driving my own car. Of having to remember how to get a destination I previously could have found on autopilot. All that contrasted against feeling out of place. Disconnected from what my friends are living and doing back in London–rallying them to finish well with their own dissertations while I watch their struggle, through which I just so recently passed myself, from the sidelines. Missing the freedom student life afforded me and dreading the rigidity of a 7-5 work schedule again.

Change is a weird beast. Getting through it can be awful. The end result is always worth it but the path there can be full of so many unexpected turns. I am thankful for the moments of calm in the middle of storms. But I’m also thankful for the storms which challenge and change me. Even more so I’m thankful for a faithful God who allows, and brings me through, the storms. This year has been such a challenge in so many ways but it has also been rewarding in ways I did not ever anticipate. I wish I could have done more. More traveling. More adventures. More. But I cannot loose sight of the huge adventure I’ve had and the blessings of new friends, and new places that have expanded my world immensely.

 

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