Reading assignments pile up beside me, but I keep telling myself Just a Little Longer...
For having been here less than two weeks, I am doing well. Misuzu aptly phrased the way I feel about my classes, that now my professors are "partners instead of merely grade-givers." The program is already beginning to deliver all I'd hoped to find here: a core knowledge of ecology and major environmental issues, and assignments to build my analytical and data skills.
Many years ago, when I left to study abroad, someone who I cared about deeply told me "It is going to be so hard when you are gone, you have to experience everything, so it's worth it to be away." It's a little different now, but I still feel the weight of having had a very full life in California, and needing to be equally full and "accomplished" here. For me, grad school is not a break from work, but simply a redirection of energy.
It's why I've been so willing to drive 320 miles round-trip to Charlotte to continue my dance training. My new coach, Dimitrijus Sazinas, brings an earnestness to his student interactions. We are still working out the communication thing, but even in the space of three lessons, he has allowed me to come to the difficult, but accurate, realization that little things I need to improve on (the way I touch my partner, the way I practice) are also improvements I need to make in my entire life. I may not be able to find an amateur partner right away, but I hope that when I do, I will bring a better version of myself to that partnership. And for the next week, I still have a great partnership with Derrick, and a friendship forever after. It's funny to feel so committed to that, and to honor it by focusing totally on practicing, so I can bring the best "me" to Embassy next week.
That energy is also why I've taken on an assistantship that, though it should be capped at 8 hours, will give me the opportunity for more, and to stretch in many new ways (more on this later). And, I suppose, why I'm taking five classes, even though I'm not enrolled in one of them yet.
Today, Saskia in Career Services warned me not to push myself too hard to do only things that I thought would be "good for me," and emphasized the importance of balance. I think this is smart. There are very few people who have restrained from telling me "you can't do everything" - they tend to be the people I respect most. But I've had some gentle reminders from good friends to slow down. And I know that at some point I will have some hard decisions about what can and can't be. I'm not prepared to make them yet, but when the time comes, I will embrace my choice with my whole being.
Maybe that's why this particular moment is so special. Now, I have time to sprawl out on the carpet, to wrap these words in my fingers and consider them, to sip tea and feel very attached to the people and plans that matter.