The Double-Edged Sword: Achieving Goals While Trying to Find Your Place

I have survived my first week in Oxford. I’m so thankful to be here. Everyone one I’ve met is amazing. I love my apartment. The town and campus is beautiful. What more could I ask for?

ORL professional staff training has been keeping me very busy. My days are going from 8-5 with social events after that. I’m taking every chance to get to know others and try and build connections. However, I’m not seeing or feeling them. I wrote about this in my journal yesterday. I’m seeing the connections others are making and am in a place where I don’t feel like I’m making any. It feels like I’m wearing a mask again. It’s exhausting. I’m trying to play a part that doesn’t come naturally to me. I was chatting with a friend this morning who said that introverts have a hard time building connections. It’s absolutely true. And I’m not talking about just any type of connection. I’m talking about the kind of connections that allow you to stay up until the wee hours of the morning just talking about life. The kind of connections go beyond the surface. I haven’t found that yet. I know I know it’s only been a week. But I feel like others have found that already.

This is a similar feeling I had when I began my time as an OA last summer. I questioned why I was there. I questioned what role I played. It took me a good amount of the summer to figure that out. My biggest fear is being forgotten. I want to feel valued, appreciated, like I matter. I don’t always feel that way. I don’t feel that way now. I don’t know what my contribution to this experience will be and it’s making me anxious. It has been said that we are here for a reason yet I have no idea what that reason may be. It took me two years to get here but I wonder, now that I am here, where do I go from here? I am hundreds of miles away from my support system. I haven’t found that support system here yet. I haven’t found my Quan or Tia. I haven’t found the person(s) that I can stay up until the wee hours of the morning just talking about life and my feelings. It’s only been a week. That is what I have to keep telling myself.

In pictures, I wear a smile. In looking back at those photos, I think the smile is more out of obligation than happiness. I’m thankful to be here, but I fear that my happiness is a mask. This mask is there to hide the fears I have. The fear of rejection. The fear that who I am deep inside isn’t enough. The fear that I will be alone without a real support system. I don’t feel like the real me is being portrayed. I don’t feel like the Ronnie I know I am is coming across. I don’t know what others are seeing but I don’t see me. Someone I met described what several of my cohort mates and I will be like in class. It was said that I would be the one always talking and challenging ideas in the classroom. While there is some truth to that, I wonder if that is all people see me as. I have expressed my thoughts and opinions in various sessions throughout training thus far. It’s because those thoughts and sessions aligned with things I value and believe in. I just don’t want people to think that that is me all of the time.

All in all, I just want to feel like I am a valued member of this community and that I have a place. I want to feel supported. I want to feel connected. I want to feel like I have a place here. It’s only been a week. Let’s see what week two has in store for me.

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