Updated: Jun 29, 2019
My two years of occupational therapy school have almost come to an end. Three months of fieldwork, and one licensing exam are the only steps between me and an official occupational therapy license. Though the official ending has not happened, the last few weeks have been filled with a series of endings. I've gratefully said goodbye to papers and group projects. I've said bittersweet goodbyes to new friends and old. But one of the goodbyes I'm having the hardest time with is my identity as a student.
Student...that's what I've been for the majority of my life. From my first day of kindergarten, to the day I walked across the front of Gerrard Hall at UNC. There have been many u-turns, pit stops, and new paths forged along the way, but my label as student was consistent. I find myself asking at random moments in the day the cliche question, "What's next?" Of course, I have the normalized answer memorized. I finish school, I get a job, I work, start a family, find a house, settle down... All valid goals. But those answers are simply the foundation. They're the skeleton of life. Their bones provide structure and ground my goals, but reality is found in the fleshy details. But the details are messy, and filled with uncertainty. They're as wild as the creatures that hunt in the woodlands and as stacked with layers as the human body itself.
For a time, this wilderness frightened me. How do you prepare for the unexpected when you have so many expectations? But just as I needed it, I heard a sermon that challenged me to bask in the wilderness. The wild shapes us. It teaches us to be curious and to adapt. The organized chaos prepares us for the next steps. When we prematurely attempt to jump into new beginnings without time in the wilderness, it can lead us to abrupt endings. Then we become stuck in a vicious cycle of end/begin/end/begin with no time to reflect, to change, to grow. When we allow ourselves time to think in the messy middle, we enter new beginnings with a stronger sense of peace. Peace with the past and where it has brought us, and peace with the future and where it will lead. So here I am, choosing to get cozy in this wilderness of mine.