When I look out my window in Brighton there are the rolling green hills I described in my introductory blog entry. There are miles to run in those hills and beyond, into the pastures full of cows, horses and sheep. I have a love-hate relationship with those hills (not an odd take for a devoted runner); they provided a cheerful run when it was nice but Southern England is known for it’s fickle weather and dark storm clouds could come quickly at any hour.
My daily routine varied greatly during my time abroad – I was fortunate to be immersed in a number of programs– arts facilitation with young offenders, a stint shadowing in a therapeutic foster home, performance-making with an artist’s collective in east London, and I was a bit surprised to find that I felt quickly at home in all of the environments. But each morning, I came up against an odd problem. I would wake up in Brighton and immediately look out into the hills, anxiously trying to predict if the weather would hold up during my run. I would find myself paralyzed by the fear that the weather might go bad – dressed to run but stalling by drawing in my journal or making another piece of toast. I was confused by this pattern as I am not one to let a little bit of rain or cold stop my morning run. In fact, my friends in Chapel Hill often laugh at me for running down Cameron Ave in the middle of a thunderstorm.
For a while I ignored my habit, because this was not the kind of obstacle I expected to run into during my scholarship summer – I had prepared for tough students and new friends, cultural barriers and for getting lost on the tube but I had not prepared for such an encounter with myself. I was frustrated – this shouldn’t be the hardest part of my day, this isn’t my challenge – it can’t be. It felt like I was up against a selfish set of fears when I was supposed to be learning and working and pushing outside of my comfort zone in “real ways”.
I never quite figured out why getting out there was so tough – maybe it got lonelier out in the rain, maybe the way the ground started to smell like home was too much when I was so far from my family for the first time, maybe I just feared I wouldn’t find my way back to the house in the fog. Nonetheless, getting outside each morning had to become my obstacle to overcome. Some days were better than others, but as weeks passed in my new home and I finished my stay in Brighton, I was going out there every morning—oftentimes returning beneath the dark clouds and rain I had feared from the beginning.
Back in the U.S. , I have pondered why I have been most compelled to share this little triumph from my summer — to be honest, I have worried that it is kind of boring! In the end, I think I have shared it because it highlights the gift I have received and will continue to receive from the Eve Carson Scholarship: the opportunity to encounter unfinished parts of myself, the privilege, as I embark on my senior year at UNC, to take the time to repeat the mantra that I ask my students to remember on tough days – I am enough, I am enough. As an Eve Carson Scholar, I look forward to continuing work on my goals, both personal and professional, in service of myself and others, and always in great hope that more people realize that they are enough.