I always thought I was an independent person; honestly, I still think I am. I like the believe I have my life under control. I like to know that my choices, for the most part, govern my future, for positive or negative. I like having the confidence that I can handle whatever happens. Honestly, I like the responsibility, even if I say I hate making decisions or I can’t deal with the pressure or I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, when I say all those things, they’re actually true–but I still like my independence. It’s paradoxical, I know. Deal with it.
I hope you can manage paradox better than I can manage loss of control, because it’s about to get worse. The funny thing is that the thing I think I miss most about where I am now versus where I was a year ago is the support system I had. I don’t know if, or how much, I realized it, but in the midst of all the issues I was dealing with last year, and really, all the issues I’ve ever dealt with, I had a network of people who cared about me and loved me and prayed for me (even if I was angry at them because I thought they were condescending–and, arguably, I still think some of them were) and, perhaps most important, listened to me. People to cover my back when I was too weak or tired or frustrated or generally incompetent to carry my own weight (BCXC 2011 ladies, you mean the world to me.) People I could go to if I needed help with something big, small, or just plain silly (“Mrs. D., do you have any string that I could use?” “Yes, I think so. Why?” “Um, I just need string…” “Oh, okay, here. Just don’t do anything that’ll get you–or me–in trouble.” I was stringing up a plush turkey in one of my friend’s lockers. Shout out to the science department for supplying me with tape, string, acetone, lab gloves, coffee, and various other items.) People who I could talk to about “deep” stuff (a couple close friends), shallow stuff (whoever was around), homework stuff (my genius friends), logistical stuff (it helps to be on admin’s good side), whatever stuff (sorry if I bored you to death). I don’t have that any more.
Or do I? Through all the changes, some relationships and connections will fall away, but others will grow stronger. It’s those about which I care most. There are still people who pray for me, talk to me (or email…or Facebook…or text…), and simply know me. I still have my old network, albeit undergoing a time of metamorphosis. Sure, I don’t have a willing supply of string and nitrile gloves–then again, I also don’t have anybody whose locker I would be pranking or car I would be “decorating” here. But those people with whom I have and will remain connected: thank you, you mean the world to me.
One of the things I miss most about cross country (and track) is the team. Sure, we were small, but we were tight. Even when we had stupid girl drama, we were a team. When we didn’t know if we had a coach, we were a team. When results and relationships fell apart, we were a team. I gave a lot of my body, my time, and my heart to that organization, and it pains me to leave it (and to see it in another year of “rebuilding” of sorts). At university, I wear my old cross country and track shirts with pride. I fought to get the fifth runner; I fought to qualify us to state; I fought to get us on the podium at state; I fought to get a distance coach; I fought to make the program better–not just for myself, but for my teammates, present and future. I won a few; I lost a lot. There was a coach at a cross country camp who asked us, rhetorically, “Why do you think gangs are so popular? Because it’s a family, it’s support, it’s connections. Cross country can be that for you, but in a good way.” Really, though, it’s just a metaphor for what I want in life.
“It took a long time to make [Cristina] happy, and if you mess with that, I will turn on you. That’s a team.” ~Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith Grey, to Owen Hunt
As an afterthought of sorts, I thought it would only be fair for me to tell you that my original conception of this post had a much more negative tone. It’s still negative (duh, it’s me–the one with the perpetually half-empty glass), but a little bit less than it would have been. About two paragraphs in, I got a Facebook post from an old friend basically letting me know that she was thinking about me. That message changed my outlook and “made my day”. Moral? Don’t be afraid to say something encouraging to someone. It makes a difference.