Has it really been almost a full month already? I’ll be honest, everything I’ve experienced here so far feels like it’s been happening to another person instead of me. It’s as if there’s a secret Livvy who has very kindly taken over as pilot while I watch from a back corner and try to process all of this. Am I happy here? Absolutely; my work, home, and community are all better than I dared to dream! Am I still low-key panicking even after an entire month of settling in? Well, maybe…
If you know me, you probably also know that I 100% have no idea what I want; not from work, not from life, not even from myself. I mean, of course I want material things like a new iron or my favorite snack foods, but in this case I’m talking about wanting some kind of direction to go for personal growth/ stability in life. If anything, the only thing I want is to actually want something. I was waaay calmer about this when I applied to the LEVN program back in January when I still had months until graduation. “Surely” I thought, “surely once I get there I’ll find something I want.” Well guess what, me from the past? The entire first month has already gone by and you’re still stuck on that. Things seem to be happening so fast I can’t even find the time to look for That Something; what will happen if the year ends and I still have no ideas? It all makes my head spin. Up until now, everything that’s been expected of me has been laid out in various syllabi and by my parents. Now I’m thousands of miles away from all of those things, and my life is up to me more than it ever was, even with LEVN program and community guidelines to follow. A year seems so short, and I can’t help but feel required to find my “permanent place in society” within that time frame lest I be left with nothing and nowhere to go. I know that this won’t be the case even if I can’t figure out where I want to go; I have a wonderful family and friends both old and new that I can ask for help. In the end I think this fear is ultimately driven by a fear of being left behind by everyone. If I stay unsure about everything while everyone moves forward, it’s unreasonable for me (in my opinion) to continually ask them for help. I try to live by “plan for the worst and hope for the best” but since I don’t know what to do with my life, I don’t really know what the best is.
Actually, articulating this internal yarn-tangle into words reminds me of a recent happening. I tagged along with a couple of my housemates to the thrift store one Sunday (as one does) and as we walked, I saw something I don’t think I’ll ever get to see again in my lifetime. Have you ever seen a hairdryer outdoors, unboxed, and surrounded by flora? Well neither had I, up until that day. The abandoned appliance lay forlornly beneath a tree near the sidewalk; its cord almost seemed to be reaching out like a plea for help. It was so jarring that I had to stop and stare as my brain tried to parse what I was seeing. My friends eventually noticed and we continued on while laughing about the weirdness of it all, but it really was the most unexpected thing I have seen in my life thus far. What does this have to do with my worries about the future? Of all possible things, the strangely placed hairdryer was an experiential reminder of rhetoric I’ve been spouting for years: being Open to Outcomes. It’s a phrase that reflects how holding expectations for an experience can change the nature of the experience itself, and I really haven’t been as open as I like to think. Of course I’m stressed all the time; I’ve been looking for that Something I Want this entire time when I don’t even know what it looks like at all, and it’s making me blind to other important experiences and opportunities. It’s time for me to work on keeping my heart open!
The Belfry & Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA