You Will Lose Your MacBook Charger
By Cydney Livingston
I learned that sometimes you lose your MacBook charger or misplace your water bottle twice in two days. I learned that sometimes it seems that in the midst of all the things you are scrambling to find – the ideas, the courage, the willpower –that what you fear you have lost most of all is your mind. I learned that college is special in the way that it can make you feel hopeless like your world is spinning at the speed of light, like you are reaching desperately for a rope dangling just above your fingertips as you try to grab hold and make your way to safety and security. I learned that things don’t always go as planned. I learned that college is hard.
I learned that some O-Week friends will wave at you through the rest of the year and some won’t, and that eventually, you find your people, maybe even in the places you’d least expect. I learned that you can’t join all the clubs and organizations and boost your resume in your first month of your first semester of your first year. I learned that opportunities present themselves in unlikely ways and that I am thankful that they do. I learned that you lose high school friends, you lose friends you’ve had for 15 years, and life as you know it changes. I learned that reality seems to change every day and that I’ve never felt so overwhelmed but desperate for more, all at once.
I learned that I want more time at Duke already, but that I’m not sure how I’ll manage to make it through the rest of the time I do have. I learned that I still have no idea what I am going to do with my life after college, that I don’t have any idea what I am doing with my life in college, let alone beyond it. I learned that happiness is something you find when you look inward, that this is a competition against myself. I learned that home feels different when I return and that I still cry when I leave my parents.
I learned that I am strong and able and loved. I learned that my confidence sometimes feels smaller here and that I don’t know how I add up. I learned that Duke is not the entirety of the world and does not define the rest of my life and that life does go on beyond our manicured grounds, but I also learned that the Duke bubble is real. I learned that I need silence to study, that I need time alone, and that I will miss East Campus’ infamous cafeteria: Marketplace. I learned that time is a valuable currency which it can be easy to feel as though you have wasted, but I also learned that investments of time should not be forced to synonymous comparison and scrutinized in such mediocre ways.
I learned that my friends at Duke care about me so much and that my friends from home still care about me just as much, that we always pick up right where we left off even though I sometimes wonder when or if the day will come that we don’t. I learned that I fear that one day such a day will arrive. I learned that it’s easy to get distracted by my phone in Bostock’s second floor international reading room where I find myself doing work most Saturdays and Sundays, and that I am most focused when I put other distractions away. I learned that sometimes I need a Dr. Pepper from the vending machine in the Bryan Center to get me through Bio202 lectures.
I learned that life as I know it is unpredictable. I learned that I’m scared of what could change at home while I’m not there. I learned the feeling of having my first birthday without hugs and kisses from my parents, without my dad greeting me in the morning by saying, “Do you feel any older yet?”, without having softball practice or a game and my mom bringing cupcakes so we could all celebrate my special day together. I learned what it means to get hit with the freshman plague and how it felt more unbearable without the empathy of my loving parents and family around to take care of me. I learned that the light in my dorm room is a most terrible shade of yellow and that I prefer natural light to artificial in any given setting.
I learned that there are things my classmates at Duke have done and accomplished that I have never even heard of. I learned that I am honored to attend such a prestigious, rigorous, and massively impressive institution, but that this institution is also one that is highly flawed. I learned that my peers really will change the world and that I can as well. I learned that change starts with one person willing enough to risk it all. I learned that I love speaking German. I learned that I love writing things in my planner so that when they are accomplished, I can mark them off. I learned that I love the Duke Gardens on the third day of Spring.
I learned that I am young, but I am also old. I learned that age should not be a measure of success or expectation. I learned that I sometimes forget that this life I am living is mine. I learned that I am terrible about listening to voicemails, terrible at checking my mailbox, and that I forget to call my grandparents for weeks at a time. I learned that days pass slowly and weeks fly, that time is weird in this way. I learned that my randomly assigned roommate pairing could have given way to no better matching of two people. I learned that I cannot do work in my room because my roommate and I are best friends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I learned that I am a hopeless romantic who doesn’t know if love exists and that I feel like a sappy idiot if I ever admit that to anyone. I learned that I love expressing myself through writing and I want to do that more. I learned that I could be a pescatarian for almost 3 months, that I could stick to this New Year’s resolution, that I could be fully vegetarian if I choose. I learned that sometimes my humor is mean and that I too must always keep myself in check. I learned that I like my nails painted light pink.
I learned that I like my hair dark, that I want to go back to my natural color, that this makes me feel like me. I learned that I love reading memoirs and that someday I want to write one. I learned that I love the feeling of sore muscles and how empowered I feel when I leave the gym from a workout. I learned that I am more open with my parents and that we have grown closer although our distance from one another has also grown. I learned that I love who I am becoming, even when I hate it sometimes still.
I learned that I know so little.
I learned that I will always be learning, changing, and growing.
I learned that there is so much to learn, and that I have only just begun.