Settled

Hey readers :).

I was biking along today, a little ansty, thinking about what I could fill up my time with. On Friday I was running my first-ever human participant, talking a little too quickly. On Sunday I headed into lab alone so that I could take all the time I needed to reassure myself that Monday’s participant would go just as smoothly. I was Skyping Tiffany yesterday, nothing of import this time, just chatting a bit; later that night I was Skyping my parents the same way. I was in the gym, doing my elliptical and reading; I was downstairs, cooking my boiled vegetables for the week. I still don’t drink tea, I still don’t drink, I still don’t go to dances, I’m doing sports on a team. Work is going excellently, I’ve collected a solid group of friends, my friends at home are always there, and family too. I wandered through the market yesterday and brightened from hearing the conversations around me. There are the odd events—a shoplifter taking off in front of me at the supermarket today, meeting an opera singer from Australia at formal hall yesterday: sparks, certainly. But the thread of my thoughts is the same, my life is as perfect as it could possibly be, no pressure from any side, just me. Me and my habits and my opinions and my self, who I now know.

I thought Cambridge would be a personal challenge, like many of my travel abroad experiences have been. But at the ripe old age of 22, I feel like I’m not surprising myself anymore. I know how I deal with things, I know what I like and how I respond. When my best friend Tiffany tells me things, I’m rarely surprised by her responses. Now I’m not surprised by my own :). I feel like the challenges I’m facing now are variants on my older ones, and there’s just so many challenges that I’ve already figured out how to overcome. I remember back in high school being incredibly concerned about the fact that I had no idea how to shop for clothing. I remember my first summer in college when I had no idea what I’d feed myself. I remember every single time I’d get stuck without a gym—now I have backup plans for backup plans for what’s the first thing I do when I get to a new place, how I organize my life and spend money. There’s a bunch of things I’ve never done before—taxes, still haven’t figured out the ironing board, written a research grant, various complex social situations—but I don’t feel like it’s going to be terribly hard to learn when I finally need to execute them. Like running my first participant today—I’ve always wanted to run human participants, and was certainly jittery on Friday. But it went very, very smoothly, and I’ve never had any problem chatting with friendly strangers. I have a history now, a collection of experiences to draw back on and think, implicitly or explicitly: oh, that’s how I responded in that situation, this one is quite similar. I was thinking ahead to my future, and really, I’m going to encounter many new situations that are analogous to my many old situations. It is remarkable for me to think back to my middle school self, thinking that college students just seemed so much more… in control of things, and see that in myself now.

Even what people think of me is rarely unusual now. On Saturday I had a compliment that I’d never heard framed that way before—“you have a very geeky approach to sports”—which was fun, because I love seeing those edges of perspective. But most of the time, I know when I’m being weird, and how people will usually respond. Moreover, I’m getting a handle on the people around me, the quirks of the lab and my new friends, so that I’m less startled by their thoughts or behavior. Saturday night, I had a fantastic time talking with Farah and more rowers for five hours or so. There are so many things we had in common, so many interests as well, that it was easy, it was fun, and my thoughts trucked along in the same way they always do :).

I guess that’s what being an adult means? I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that people become pretty fixed in their habits by their thirties. But my parents have recently suggested that personality is pretty consistent through childhood, and that people just learn to hide their weaknesses better. I don’t really feel that way, since I feel that I’ve changed immensely from elementary school to middle school to high school… and while I’ve always been a bit odd, the oddness has now settled into specific outlets. Of course, I’m 22, which means I must be incredibly naïve in some senses (when I write these, I try to be conscious of my older self looking back at them and laughing). It doesn’t negate the experience, I don’t think. I’m expected to have had less experience with the world by this point, just as I’m surprised now by how much I have had.

I’m surrounded by good people and good work and good music and a good life behind and ahead and present around me, and it is truly a wonderful place to be :). I’m reaching out now, trying to stretch my brain a little more—maybe a new book, maybe more computational reading, maybe a short trip to Amsterdam, some new formal halls. Finishing up the grad school apps, of course, and running this experiment at work which has been a lot of worry and time to get working, but I’m so happy is churning along now. It seems so funny to me that I can see myself in the future, doing very much this sort of thing, more busy and bombarded but with the same general outlook and approaches. Unless anything drastically changes, unless I’m pushed to lead a lifestyle quite unlike my current and anticipated one for a while, it seems so crazy that this is who I am and who I’m going to be :).

Thanks as always for listening, readers :). Hope you’re having exciting eventful weeks, or calm ones like mine. I’m off to take a cake out of the oven—there’s always time for small changes in my life, like baking carrot cakes (plus miscellaneous cupboard items) :).

Best wishes and happy December!

Monica

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