Learning to Breathe With Two Months Left
Blogger: Sarah Safuto
Hello all, it’s me again! You know the intro drill - Sarah, redhead, senior, history major, transfer student, blogger extraordinaire. Lover of mini-horses and adventures.
Last time I blogged back in early December, I was slowly cycling my way through a series of panic attacks about graduation. Well, you miiiight be surprised to hear this, but that definitely, absolutely, 100 percent… hasn’t changed. Womp womp. If I thought I was close to graduating when I penned that post three months ago, then I’m practically staring commencement straight in the nostrils now.
I feel strangely compelled to apologize ahead of time for the heaviness of this post. I intended to write something lighthearted and carefree, but this came out instead. If emotions scare you, you might want to leave and find a silly Vine or ten to watch instead. Proceed at your own risk past the cute photo of me and Oswald on the night we got engaged! (Long story. We haven’t talked since, so I think the engagement might be off. Oh well. Anyone know if Tony the Tiger is single?)
Right, so. Let’s start with the feeling-words and stuff. Second semester senior year has arrived, and I still can’t believe it. Didn’t I just transfer a millisecond ago? When I first got here, everybody wanted to know what I planned on doing with my time at Oxy. There is such a noticeable shift in conversation your senior year. When you discuss college, nobody asks you what your major is and what you plan to do with your time in school anymore. Instead, they inquire (ever so carefully) about what you are going to do after graduation. Your advisors gently start to discuss your options. At first, it’s easy to push it to the back of your mind and pretend that it’s a long ways away. But more gradually you begin to realize that time does not slow down for anybody, and soon, it’s the middle of March and graduation is two months away. And then before you know it, you catch yourself walking across the quad, trying to memorize every physical detail, silently thinking about the countdown over and over again. Two months. Two months. Not four, not three, but two months until I leave behind a life that I’ve grown so used to. Two months until the “one day” I’ve always talked about becomes “today”. Uh, how did this happen again? A few months ago I had to turn off The Graduate during the scene where everyone congratulates the main character on his degree/asks him about his future because it struck such fear in my heart.
Man, time moves fast. A lot has shifted in my life since my first post back in October, in both small and big ways. I reassessed what I wanted out of my final year in college. Well, I reassessed what I wanted out of life in general. I finished writing my comps, to my immense joy and relief… and then accepted the History Department’s offer to add another 15 pages and do honors my final semester. I joined Oxy’s Dance Team. I started writing for the Weekly and the school chapter of Her Campus. I broke up with my boyfriend of 2 ½ years. After 4 years of avoiding personal problems, I started to finally come to terms with and then treat my anxiety disorder. I learned how to accept help from friends. I also learned how to take time to breathe. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. And repeat. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to be alone.
In my first attempt at blogging, I remember talking about needing at least 8 hours of sleep a night, which now makes me smile because it’s kind of the exact opposite of what’s been happening this semester. It’s partially because I have so much to do that sleep is not an option, but at the same time, I don’t really mind that much anymore. The moments that I have always considered to be the peak times of stress - the all-nighters, the last minute essay writing, literally any amount of time spent in the quiet section of the library - are also some of the things I will miss the most about my time at Oxy. Tonight (last night? today?), my friend and I pulled an all-nighter for the second time in two weeks. The first time, the day before break, we paused our studying for a bit to read a Buzzfeed article that had us laughing so hard at 4:30 A.M. that the early-morning-shift cleaning lady jokingly told us she thought we were having a party. She added that she could hear us from down the hall. We apologized, hung our heads in shame, and then promptly resumed giggling the second she left. The second all-nighter is happening right now as I type this post. Spring Break messed up my sleep schedule big time, so I woke up at 5pm last night after 13 hours of sleep. I know, yikes. (If you’re my parents and you’re reading this, I promise I don’t always have an unhealthy sleep schedule). Point being, I’m currently feeling pretty awake and extremely contemplative.
My friend succumbed to his tiredness about an hour ago and fell asleep on the library floor with his backpack as a pillow and a thin blanket to cover him. I’m sitting at my computer as it slowly becomes lighter outside, and the world begins to come to life. It’s peaceful. This moment seemed ordinary until I started to write about it. Now, for some reason, it seems extraordinary and almost unreal. I always forget how much I like sunrises. Hello, new day. Hello, new beginnings.
To summarize, being a second semester senior is weird. Actually, growing older in general is still strange to me. I used to think that personal growth only came in sudden spurts; that every time I would wake up one morning and realize that the person that I was the previous day had disappeared in a puff of smoke. But now I understand that this usually isn’t the case. The last couple of years here has taught me that the times that I thought I wasn’t growing at all were in reality the times that I was becoming more and more of who I am today. The moments that I believed were just in-between were actually the moments that shaped who I am. And there have been so, so many of those moments here at Oxy. For that, I will be forever grateful.
When people ask me if I’m ready to graduate, my first instinct is to grimace, make a strange noise in the back of my throat that sounds vaguely like a cat being strangled, and laugh. Yeah, I know. I’m a real gem at parties. Anyway, so okay, maybe I am not fully there yet. But who really is? When will I ever be 100 percent there? I’m terribly, terribly sad to be leaving this place, but I know that I need to smile, brace myself, and then just jump and see what my next adventure is. My friend Maddy always jokes that I “just do things” out of the blue, and this is my chance to do a lot of that in a big way. It feels like there is so much pressure to completely sink or completely swim, but I refuse to believe that I won’t at least be okay. Call it naive optimism, call it youthful hope or call it simply just being stupid, but I’m keenly aware that I am teetering on the cusp of the rest of my life, and I will be okay. Tennessee Williams, in his personal notebooks, wrote something that I have thought about multiple times since I first read it last semester. He said, “The past - the future - a continuing stream - Something in me will save me from ruin no matter what comes.”
It’s now 7am. I’m watching the sun finish its ascent from an uncomfortable chair in a room in the library where I’ve been since 10pm last night. The birds are chirping, the air coming from the open window is crisp and slightly chilly, and the morning bells have just finished chiming. It’s going to be a good day, I think.
Maybe it’s the lack of sleep speaking, but I believe, as I sit here now wearing yesterday’s clothes (and not in a fun way), that I’m almost ready to stop resisting the flow of the “continuing stream”. Things will be fine. Graduation will be fantastic. At the very, very least, it will be okay. Acceptance starts with a step, right? I can smell the progress happening, friends, and for some reason unknown to myself it has the same scent as the pancakes that my brain is pretending I can smell as I face the early morning. Mmm, pancakes.
Okay, the sun is definitely up now. Time to go wake up my friend and start a new day. Until next time, amigos.