It’s been an entire week since we said our goodbyes and left NYC for each of our homes, some of us back to similarly bustling cities, and some–like me–back to a much different territory. And like when I arrived, the culture shock has been just as shocking…but not in quite the same way.
When I first arrived in the city, I was taken aback by the constant stimulation of all senses; it truly is the city that never sleeps. And don’t get me started on figuring out the New York City subway system….
But the biggest change from my normal, every-day life came on with much more subtlety, and as much of a growing experience “cooking” most of my meals was–aka, eating peanut butter straight from the jar with a spoon for dinner–this, also, was not it. It wasn’t until I came home that I realized how big of an impact being a part of the Moxie project has had on my life. The first couple of days, my overwhelming feeling was sadness; this summer I have felt my brain being stretched and twisted to a level that I am consciously aware of, something that I’ve never experienced before. Not only this, but I have met a group of people who I never would have interacted with otherwise, but have pushed me to think about important topics in ways I had never considered. And the relationships I have formed with everyone in my group, as well as some of the people at my internship at Sanctuary for Families, are deeper and more real than I ever expected–or in many cases, experienced–before.
To revisit one of my previous posts, something that has defined this summer from talking with the other Moxies is an acceptance and welcoming of discomfort. I have learned that discomfort is necessary for the kinds of conversations that will get things done, enact the change that we so desperately need. The discussions we’ve had, whether in seminar or spontaneously in the middle of the night, have been some of the most in-depth, transformative, respectful, and, yes, discomforting, I have ever been a part of. And I mean that in the best of ways. We are all so different, and that’s what makes our discussions productive and interesting. This summer, not only do I feel like I have made a tangible impact in people’s lives at my internship, but I also have become more sure of my own voice and independence. I have found a place to dwell in discomfort….but what will that mean for the future?
The future has always terrified me. During the last week of being in NYC, I had a surprising number of conversations about what’s important in life and not getting bogged down by not knowing exactly where your life is headed. When I came into college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life…but I’m not sure how much that goal actually matches what I am passionate about, which this summer has helped me to see. While I am more uncertain than ever of what is to come, I am also the most content and sure than I have felt my entire life.
But the future is important for another reason as well: how can I use what I have learned this summer in the future? One topic in particular that stood out in every one of the discussions was the issue with the hierarchical systems that spill over into every aspect of society and government. Yes, we always talk about problems with unequal treatment in, say, the finance world, where everything is about networking and who you know. But something I came to realize this summer, even speaking with some of my coworkers, is that these systems exist even within the nonprofits, the last place you would expect. And I recently discovered from one of my friends that–surprise, surprise–the same is true in the media industry; the prettier women get better jobs, often within sales, which is just so problematic on so many levels.
How can we even begin to address these widespread problems at the very center of our societal mindset?
That was always the question this summer. But maybe we don’t need to have all the answers right now. Working for the change that is necessary doesn’t have to look like some big massive movement that solves every issue in one go, and for another matter, couldn’t. Thinking about going back to school and what will happen, how I can continue to think about the issues we’ve discussed all summer worries me. So much life was packed into that short 8 weeks, and I am not about to waste it. I am determined to find a way to stay involved, stay aware, and stay connected, whatever that may look like. And stay open minded about where life could lead because I am less sure about the future than I have ever been, but also the most ok with not knowing.