“hold still. stay there. tease back the layers. you are in the space between your comfort zone and infinity. you want to hide. not be seen. not be open. not be vulnerable. but you have to. there are two ways to do this - soft and gentle or fast and hard. both will get you to the other side, if you let them.” ― Jeanette LeBlanc
Over the last year, my life has been a constant whirlwind of transitions. Upon graduating high school, I spent my summer working for my family and teaching with two drum lines. I left for college and I thought that was it: the start of Chloe's adult life.
The problem is, life isn't cookie-cutter. Being in music, of all things, I thought I was well aware of that fact. Reality check: I wasn't.
A few months into my first semester of college, I began to really understand the woman I was shaping to be. I saw the influence of my parents, teachers, and mentors. I saw my choices becoming my own carefully thought-out intensions. I saw the impact of my life on the world. As strong as I was becoming in who I was, I also saw that that person wasn't fitting into my location. I was surrounded by amazing people in an awesome program but I couldn't be me. I struggled through a constant internal conflict where the real Chloe switched on and off, depending on whether I was around people or alone.
I knew I had to make a change. A trip to an international conference led to meeting a professor at another university. I'd spent many weekends hiding in the mountains that surrounded the campus, and entertained his conversation about his program. This led me to an inquiry about their scholarship options and eventually an Honors Program. Before I knew it, I'd fast-tracked my way through a transfer application, new studio audition, honors and scholarship interviews, and found myself on the phone with my mom explaining that the cards had all fallen into place and I was moving to those mountains to go to college after Christmas. In two weeks, I'd gone through the process that took the entirety of my senior year.
The transition was bearable because of one thing: I was doing what was best for me.
This has always been a hard concept to wrap my head around. My goal every day is to lift others up, to make someone's life a little brighter or a little easier or a little more fun; I thrive off of that joy.
In my head, I had this misconception that making decisions based on what was best for me was a purely egotistical act; and while I still believe that the effect on others should be taken into account, there are many situations where my decision didn't actually impact others as greatly as I'd stressed about it in my head. Most often, I sent myself spinning in circles trying to fix the whole world, when I actually am more capable of making a difference in people's life when I am in a mentally healthy state of mind.
It's been a month since I made the move to my new college, but it isn't the campus that makes me feel so at ease. I've come to realize that finding home doesn't necessarily have anything to do with location. My ability to finally rest comfortably in who I am comes from my newfound ability to find home in myself.
This isn't to say that I don't find home in other things. Of course I still rest in my family, my close friends, the things I love; however, by becoming more centered in myself, I am able to hold on to these things regardless of the distance. No matter how far away we are, I am able to think back to the laughs around the family dinner table. No matter how bad my day is, I am able to reminisce on the nights my mom rubbed my back on our couch. No matter what university I am attending, I can happily look back on the late night taco runs, Survivor watch parties, crazy long football games, and many musical adventures that were the great parts of my first semester of college.
But by finding home in myself, I no longer rely on these things. When life gets hard: when drama strikes or friends change or schedules get ridiculously hectic, I don't have to have a "who am I?" moment.
It's not an easy process, but I've learned to take care of Chloe. It turns out, Chloe enjoys reading and hiking and quite a lot of coffee... I don't depend on others or the specific location to find joy in those things, and now I'm even more grateful when those special people or places are involved.
My challenge today is that you begin to find home in you. Treat yourself. Turn your phone off and explore what makes you happy when no one else is around. It may be a transition, soft and slow or hard and fast, but you also may be amazed at the impact you can make outwards when you first start with you.