It started almost as a little hum… a vibration in my head, felt more than heard. A connection between some deep part of my brain straight to inside my chest. In the days leading up to my college graduation I mostly ignored it. Easy enough in the midst of goodbye parties, long nights at the Terrace drinking pitchers of beer while the sun set over Lake Mendota. Graduation parties, visiting family to entertain… there was plenty to be distracted by. But the hum turned to an ache. A growing uneasiness. An angst. I tried to drown it. Alcohol, music, sleep. But graduation came, and as day turned to night, and evening settled in, I saw Liza, my friend, forged on those first few nights in the dorm freshman year, across the street from my apartment on her porch. I walked over and sat next to her and buried my head on her shoulder and just cried. Tears flowed with the pressure and force of the angst that had been percolating inside me now at a full boil. She held me as I just let go. And for a few moments at least I had relief from the discomfort that had entered my perfect world.
I can look back twenty five plus years at that time with a much better understanding. With nostalgia for my college years and the wisdom of time, I can see how terrified I was at the absolute CHANGE that lay just ahead of me. With graduation, my life as I knew it… gone. My best friend and roommate… gone! Water polo… gone! My core of friends… my now brothers and sisters who I lived with, laughed with, cried with, loved one another…gone! And my 21 year old self was just a little bit overwhelmed trying to cope with and process it all.
Change. The unknown. Discomfort.
And for almost 25 years I have been able to navigate the waters of change and the unknown while keeping that hum quiescent. From marriage to medical school. Family of two growing to three and then four. Medical Residency and Fellowship through private practice. City living to moving out to the suburbs.
But as 2016 has given way to the new year, that hum is starting to reverberate inside me. While still struggling with the winds of change that have put a classless, unhinged, insecure narcissist as our country’s leader, I am starting to process the new path my life is taking as I go part time in July.
Time… more time. Conceptually, it sounds great. But that damn hum is building up in the in my head and in my chest. Time is the most valuable commodity we have, right? Always want more time. To spend with kids. To exercise. To go to concerts and travel. Visit friends. Try new jobs. Write more. Read more. Start my next chapter… But alas, it still feels at the moment like I’m more walking away from something as opposed to running toward a new future.
Change. The unknown. Discomfort.
I have had the opportunity though, for a while now, to reflect and process. To start to cope and deal. And maybe start to make a little peace with the rising tide of angst. As conflict is necessary before giving way to resolution and ultimately progress. So too is the necessity of discomfort. For true change to occur, truly transformational change to happen, discomfort is obligatory. And finding my way through this discomfort will ultimately lead to REAL change.
Two years after breaking down on Liza’s porch, I was no longer the twenty one year old directionless new college graduate. I was a married twenty three year old to the love of my life and months away from embarking on my path through medical school. The path travelled those two years was far greater than measured in time or distance. But absolutely could not have occurred in the safety of the status quo. Now, as I find myself on the eve of another opportunity for true change to occur, I may not know exactly where I am running to. But I am ready to run. With the support of Becky and my family, my friends old and new, I am ready to run into and embrace the hum, the vibrations, the angst. True change lies just beyond…