Not all of a gap year is glamorous. I spend a lot of time alone. I spend a lot of time sitting under the sun. I spend a lot of time being confused. I spend a lot of time waiting. I spend a lot of time thinking. I spend a lot of time sweating while sitting under the sun. I spend a lot of time thinking about why I am confused. I spend a lot of time waiting.
But despite all of this, I’ve found a surprising amount of energy. I appreciate the sweat, the confusion, the anger, all and every state I am in. During Fall Training, back in California, Megan Cowan led a lecture on “mindfulness” – she juxtaposed the difference between “being” and “doing.” I had first been introduced to this distinction a few months earlier while in Cape Town, South Africa with a pre-first year group from UNC-CH. Back then, it had been sitting with the idea that maybe time was simply one of best solutions for the transition out of apartheid. Me, being someone that believes in solutions and mathematical problem solving, struggled with this. There must be a way to grow more integration here, to catalyze this transition. But not only were my experiences in South Africa accompanied by naiveté, but society and our education system has taught me to always “know” and to always “do”. Knowing solutions. Knowing myself. Knowing my options. Knowing the plan of action. And executing. So when Megan Cowan reintroduced this “being vs. doing,” I remember a tingle of discomfort. She suggested that we allow ourselves to be susceptible to any and every feeling that might come our way. If we are frustrated, instead of suppressing it, examine it. If we are giddy, be giddy and blissful. “Being mindful” was what she called it. And since I’ve left Chapel Hill around two months ago, I’ve come in contact with a range of emotions much wider than anything I had known before. Emotions and states that have no names. Ones that are neither positive nor negative, but simply part of this assimilation process. And I’ve soaked in them. So far, I’ve “been” more often than I have “done” here. And for now, I’m okay with that.
originally posted at kristenleegap.wordpress.com on October 28th, 2013