“How did we go up so fast?” – My roommate

Last night I was hanging out with some of my friends, talking to somebody from Southern California about why we chose to come to college in the east coast. That made me really nostalgic about how different I’ve become after coming to Swarthmore.

I remember the day of my Chinese final – I was walking up a hill to my classroom and thinking about how I had changed this semester. I really don’t have that many friends, off the top of my head I can count the number of friends I have with two hands, and I was completely ok with that. Ever since I came back from Asia, I feel that my extroverted side has been seeping out of me, and I’m left maturing as an introvert. For the first half of the semester, my roommate and I spent a lot of time in our rooms. After classes, after every meal, we would go back to the room to do work and hang out. It was all so simple. Before I came to college, I was anxious that I wouldn’t have that many friends. I was worried that I’d be by myself all the time because everybody else would be hanging out. And now fast forward a year and a half, I’m completely fine with not having that many friends. Hell, I go out of my way so that I can chill alone. But I don’t know if me being fine with it is the same as me being content with it. To be honest many times this year I felt that I’ve regressed.

I started off this semester with 4 index cards. Drink 62 oz of water every day, stretch everyday, take multivitamins and fish oil everyday, and floss everyday. These index cards each had a 5×6 grid on the back of them to check off everyday when I completed these tasks (total of 30 days). It was a way for me to hold myself accountable and be disciplined to complete these tasks. I only held out for about 20 of the days, then my discipline went to shit. To put this in perspective, I used to go to the gym at least 4 times a week for the past 2 semesters, and I could always see consistent progress. These past 2 months, I’ve gone to the gym a total of 6 times. It really doesn’t feel good, to be back in the same hole I’ve already dug myself out of.

Discipline wise, I tried to blame my regression on emotional stresses. I was feeling pretty bummed out the first few weeks because I was conflicted about seeing somebody. There were days that I thought it was ok to just wallow in my emotions and do nothing, in contrast from my roommate who still consistently went to the gym every week. Sure, maybe having some time to wallow in my emotions was fine, but the world is gonna keep turning, and I still should do what I have to do. So that’s a lesson that I won’t forget, even if I feel like shit I should still complete the things I had committed to before. Because that’s what a commitment is about right?

This semester was also fairly academically rigorous, pretty much every single day I would stay in Cornell (our science library) till closing at 1AM, then walk back to my room to sleep. Everyday felt exactly the same and seemed was like a blur. I can’t discount the fact that I was learning a lot – it was actually fun every single night staying up and working. But at times I was left thinking if I should be doing things a different way. I’ve been journaling almost everyday, but it’s evident that I haven’t written nearly as much as I used to. I know that I was much happier last semester writing answers on Quora, blogging here, and going to the gym. Last semester I had found my routine: writing and working out consistently made me happy. And it seems that I have drifted apart from this core this semester.

You know it’s funny writing about this now. I remember in a post I wrote last February I talked about how I felt offended when my friend Vivian called me mellow. I didn’t want to be mellow, fuck that. But ask me now if I’m mellow. I will give you a sincere smile and say “sure I can be mellow” and give you a high five.

The reason why I use the word regressed is because I’ve been exactly where I am now before. It’s almost funny how similar things are – not feeling extremely driven towards a goal, not being disciplined, not wanting to be around big crowds. And the biggest theme that kind of freaked me out was that I didn’t feel driven towards a goal.

Enough with this though, I’m making it seem like this semester was just bad. But I’ve had some of the most fulfilling experiences in my life this semester, this was just what’s on my mind. The metaphor I like to use is that of a phoenix. Fly high, then burn to the fucking ground. Then rise again, soaring higher than you’ve ever soared before.

Here’s to flying back up.

Happy Holidays.

Author: Sam Shih

Hi I'm Sam! I'm a recent graduate of Swarthmore College with a BA in both Computer Science and Asian Studies.

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