“Even in the stagnant waters, she is learning day by day: though it takes awhile to see, she is growing while she waits.” — Morgan Harper Nichols
Eight months ago, I sat in the San Diego International Airport with tears streaming down my face and words flowing effortlessly as I wrote my goodbye to a semester of loving, growing and traveling. In that moment, I felt inspired by the places I had seen, felt loved by the people I had met and I felt lost about where to go moving forward.
There has not been a day since then that I haven’t thought about writing again, but how does one find inspiration after leaving pieces of their heart scattered with dozens of people around the country and an even bigger part left on the MV World Odyssey?
In all honestly, I realized that inspiration cannot always be found in such drastic, incredible experiences. Traveling the world and the knowledge that I gained from doing so was the most influential time in my life thus far, but it is not the only great thing I have done or will do. Following Semester at Sea, I went back to Bloomington and finished my junior year and I accepted and completed a summer internship at the most profitable, competitive law firm in America.
It was living in downtown Chicago that taught me that inspiration isn’t always in a clear line of sight. I was living in an apartment not much bigger than my room I grew up in, but now I was sharing it with three other people. I was making $17 an hour in a city where inflation is at an all-time high and I was spending eight hours a day sending emails and finding files that was the equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack. I spent the majority of my weekends driving back home or driving down to Bloomington to spend time with family and friends and it was during this time that I realized how to find my inspiration again.
It’s the lake days with my family, listening to Toes by Zac Brown Band on repeat for hours. It’s the the random appreciation texts from my Semester at Sea friends when I feel assured that these are my friends forever. It’s going to Bloomington and feeling the same excited, giddy butterflies as when I first moved in three years ago. It’s watching my dad find his happy, going to my grandma’s Sunday dinners, it’s sunshine and friends, maybe a little tequila, and feeling unconditional love.
I ignored all of these things for eight months, not because I didn’t appreciate them, but because I think I was trying to fill a void that reentry had nested within me. Eight months ago, I felt lost about where to go moving forward, but now I think I am ready to figure it out.
Being one semester shy of graduation, juggling two and a half jobs and beginning the law school application process overwhelms me with feelings of excitement, curiosity and a bit of fear and honestly, as I am typing it, does not sound like I am figuring it out. However, I have goals and expectations for this semester that I am not allowing to go victim to by attempting to fill a void.
I owe so much of who I have grown to be to Semester at Sea, but I owe it to myself to keep growing, to keep bettering myself and to keep seeking inspiration, even in the blurriest of times. There is no need to fill a void because there is no void to fill. I am not a half-empty person, I am full of ambitions, words and initiative and I vow to my readers, and to myself, to embrace that from here on forward.