Stopping and Looking Around Every Once in Awhile

It seems as though a column opportunity always falls into my lap when I’m feeling philosophical, so begin reading this with a grain of salt. Coincidentally, it’s the time of year when the seasons are changing, the Earth is welcoming spring and there are spurts of cold as soon as you seem to get comfortable with the warmth. I suppose this is how I’ve felt over the years, keeping a guard up to be prepared for the cold days that appear without notice. I’m in a constant state of reflecting on the past, probably because I’m an Aquarius, and I’ve had the pleasure of spilling my guts in the form of a column a handful of times over the years.

I’ve totally overshared in my opportunities to do so. I’ve pondered how I felt entering my junior year in a 1,000-word reflection titled, “Carpe Diem: Junior Year Reflection” (how original). At that point, I was newly living off-campus and grieving the chance I was granted to go to the Disney College Program, which I had turned down. Discussing the differences between campus life and its community from living in complete isolation was therapeutic for me at the time. I was pretty closed off to socialization; I was sporting a long-term boyfriend, so priorities were skewed in my brain. Choosing where to put my time and energy was a constant battle, and I wish I had a way to know what the right decisions were.

That following December (just days after ending my relationship officially), I published a column dedicated to balancing creativity and responsibility. In other words, I was trying to get my sh*t together after being tied to somebody else for the last year. The decision to be single wasn’t an easy one to make, but I had to live with it. I spent more time with my friends and painting for hours at a time in my room. 90% of my days were spent with noise-canceling headphones on to prevent the possibility that a thought could even occur in my brain. 

Following those revolutionary pieces of literature, I wanted to write something to reflect how I was feeling about turning 21, especially as my life coincided with the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” almost perfectly. I was that girl she sings about at my birthday party, knowing darn well that my ex wasn’t going to show or even shoot a text. Even though I was the one to end things, this solidified that a new chapter of my life was beginning, one that was just for me, and my ex had no place in it. I enjoyed my party, despite my dramatic brain (props to being a theater major). My friends from home came to stay, making me a special cake and nearly every individual I’d interacted with since attending SUNY New Paltz was inside my house, solely to celebrate me. Standing in front of the crowd in a tiara, White Claw in hand, I awkwardly swayed as ‘Happy Birthday’ was sung to me — things seemed okay for a moment.

I then took a break from writing columns or even cracking open my journal. It’s been a period of drought in the creative side of my brain.

Here we are now, in the trenches of the last semester of my senior year. I’m busier than ever — balancing pretty demanding acting classes with in-depth English discussions. As I hop between Parker Theater and the Humanities building, I keep feeling like I need to take a second to breathe. Since watching the film in my youth, Ferris Bueller’s famous quote to “stop and look around once in a while,” has been adamant in my mind. It has always felt appealing to adhere to, but not as much as it has these last few weeks. It’s insane to know that the place I’ve grown comfortable in, and grown as a human in, will be ripped away from me in a few short weeks.

The jump from high school to college felt like a breeze — an escape from being guarded at home. Yet the second I throw that cap into the sky, I’m being teleported right back into that life I wished to stay apart from. In my senior seminar class, the idea of being a “professional student” was brought up. Essentially, at this point in academia, I’m completely catered to the understanding of the school system — attending class, taking exams, completing projects — it’s second nature now. Entering a realm of infinite possibilities is as exciting as it is daunting, especially when the path begins back at the starting point I’ve already torn myself away from. 

It’s not that living back on Long Island is terrible; it does have its perks. From delicious seafood to the stunning beaches to my cute little Golden Retrievers at home, there’s plenty to embrace with the shift in realities I’m bound to endure. Through this haze of uncertainty, I’ve started taking action toward achieving goals and avoiding feeling like I’ve been banished to a place where an older version of myself exists. 

I’ve grown to know this town inside and out, that I could write a guidebook about attending SUNY New Paltz for newcomers, and yet I’ll have no purpose of being in this magical place after receiving my degree. In these next few weeks, I’ll be embracing each opportunity I get to enjoy in this place — savoring each sunset and saying yes to any chance to go to the mountains.

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About Samantha Salerno 81 Articles
Samantha (Sam) Salerno is a third-year performing arts major who has a passion for writing. This is her third semester on The Oracle. She spent the majority of her summer working for the publication, Fire Island News. You can reach her by emailing salernos2@newpaltz.edu.

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