Before every high school track meet, my coach used to give us pep talks on the bus. The whole team was drowsy, waking up from naps where our necks ached from sitting three to a row. We used to gaze up at him as he stood in the front of the bus, gesturing enthusiastically.
Before our last meet of the year, he gave a speech about being nervous versus being excited. He had read some article about how the symptoms of being nervous — heart racing, butterflies in your stomach, sweating — are nearly identical to those of being excited about something. He told us that since they felt the same, we could choose to be either nervous or excited for the big race. It was all about our mindset.
As my sophomore year inches toward a close, I’ve been filled with a sense of dread. My friends are dragging themselves toward the finish line, turning in assignments, studying for finals, lining up summer plans and the like, but instead, I find myself in a constant state of paralysis.
Sophomore year has filled me with a sense of comfort found in routine. I wake up each morning more often than not to my roommate’s alarm rather than my own. The sun in my eyes, I push back my covers and stretch. I’ve hung mini disco balls from my bookshelf, and they reflect tiny circles of light around my room. I smile.
I make my way into the living room where my roommates and I dance around each other in the hum of the early morning — making breakfast, brushing our teeth, doing last night’s dishes. It is quiet yet comfortable as we bump into each other in our too-small kitchen, squeezing around each other with a gentle smile.
Each day is different, yet I follow the same patterns as I move about my life — cooking dinner with my roommates, coffee with friends after Italian class, bringing a blanket and a book to the Beach every time the sun comes out. Freshman year was a year of constant change for everyone — moving away from home, finding where you fit in in a new city with new people, and as exciting as it was, it was scary too. I’m grateful to have found a sense of routine, and Baltimore has finally started to feel like home.
Just before sophomore year, I was nervous to come back to Baltimore. Summer was peaceful and wonderful, and I wasn’t looking forward to uprooting myself and traveling back across the country. As soon as I got here though, that changed. I moved back in with my roommates, and if possible, we’ve grown even closer than before.
We made a sophomore year bucket list and hung it on the fridge, setting out to make this the best year ever. Though we’ve only completed a third of our bucket list, I think we succeeded in making this the best year ever. But now, it is coming to a close, and I am about to uproot myself again.
In the fall, I won’t be coming back to Baltimore — I’ll be studying abroad in Italy. I’m excited, but I am so nervous, and those feelings are twisted so tightly together that I’m having trouble separating them. Studying abroad is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and I’m excited to make new friends and get to explore new places, but I can’t help thinking that this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Everything is beautiful and happy, and now I’ve decided to leave, not to return until January.
I’m thinking back to my coach’s speech. Though many of his speeches were hit or miss, he was right about turning nervousness into excitement. It truly is all about your mindset. There are so many reasons for me to be nervous, terrified even, to leave the place I’ve become so comfortable, but there are also so many reasons for me to be excited.
As the year comes to a close, I don’t want to be stressed about the future. I just want to have fun for my last few weeks in Baltimore and then be excited for what’s to come.
Molly Green is a sophomore from Orange County, Calif. studying Writing Seminars.