Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home again

For AL, because you asked.

I came home yesterday from Washington.

What a heady experience this whole summer was.

I ran the emotional gamut, from completely miserable to so happy, and everything in between. This summer was totally not what I expected at all, in many, many ways. My internship didn't end up the way I thought it would, the program I was on was completely different than my initial perception, and I learned a lot about myself, about what I can tolerate, and how I react to situations that are not ideal or that are challenging. I'm a little ashamed to say that I was very quick to call a day "bad" if it didn't go exactly as I wanted it to. I judged people very quickly, usually jumping to the wrong conclusion. I didn't think things through, and did a lot of complaining.

I think that there were times when I was justified for feeling the way I did, as expressed in my previous posts. But at the same time, now that I look back on myself and my behavior, I am sorry that I did not behave in a more adult way: often, I turned into a whiny, petulant child who expected everyone to deliver on a silver platter exactly what she wanted. Instead of dealing with situations with a smile or trying to see the bigger picture, I saw myself as the only person who could possibly be right and so my way of doing things had to be done. And of course, that wasn't possible most of the time. In fact, it wasn't possible for nearly any of the time. At some point, I had to grow up and take stock of the situation, and realize something very important about being one in a crowd - other people aren't going to change for you, and you're not necessarily going to change them. The only thing you can do is say to yourself, "Look, I am me and they are them - I have to accept that. Now I have a choice: I can live unhappily and grouse all the time about how difficult it is for me. Or I can look past what makes us different and find common ground and take it from there, and smile and try to see how this situation, even though it's hard, will be good for me in the long run."

Unfortunately, I chose the former. I wish I had chosen the latter more often, but this is all part of the learning experience and maturing and handling myself properly as a frum Jew. I'd like to think that I will choose more properly and wisely in the future (not that I want to be a place of tremendous nisayon again, please G-d, at least not without a good religious support system).

So am I happy that I did this internship and this program? Well, yes. I don't want to whitewash the experience, because I want to remember it clearly, both good and bad, but in the end, I left on a happy note. I want to remember how I felt during the course of the internship, because I think that it's part of the growth process to remember where I came from, even if I'm a little embarrassed of some of it (i.e. how strongly I reacted to a situation when if I had just taken the time to relax a little I wouldn't have been so upset. But then again, by reacting strongly, people saw that I took certain things seriously. Not that they always cared to take them as seriously as I did. But whatever.).

To all the people out there whose phone lines I cried into or whose email inboxes I poured my worries into, thank you, thank you so much. You were an immeasurably valuable support system to me and I appreciate it so much.

And for the people in Washington who helped me . . . thank you. I don't know if I can really put into words what it meant to me when you sat and listened and encouraged and critiqued and advised, but thank you, from my heart.

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them, and we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you - I have been changed for good

It well may be that we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me, like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird in a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you

Because I knew you

I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness
For the thing I've done you blame me for

But then, I guess we know there's blame to share

And none of it seems to matter anymore

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better

And because I knew you...

Because I knew you...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good . . .

--"For Good," Wicked, composed by Stephen Schwartz


D'varim P'shutim said...

May you only grow stronger from your experience, and may you see much hatzlocha in your future endeavors...

Rebecca said...

This is a great post. I wish I could be as mature as you seem to be.

The truth is, you are not alone in how you reacted. Part of the process of growing up means that we must break out of our egocentric shells and realize that there is a world beyond our five-foot radii. We must learn to accept other people and realize that they do not always see things the same way we do. We were all children once, Apple. And it takes a long time to grow up. Yasher koach on taking the first step.

What amazes me about your post is that you chose to see your experience as overally positive. That's an even greater step than the one I just mentioned, and it serves as an indication that you have internalized the message of maturity. If you still had a hard time accepting what other people threw at you, then you would have walked away with a bitter taste in your mouth upon your departure. But you didn't. You swallowed the medicine, grinned and beared it.

Like I said, I know I still have a lot to go in the process you have just described. Thank you for serving as my role model in showing me that it is possible.

Ali v'hatzlichi!

Erachet said...

I know exactly what you mean about the maturing process. Even when I'm not in a place of nissayon, I still feel that childishness of everything needing to revolve around me and my needs and my wants. I think you show great maturity in recognizing this as a fault and expressing your desire not to act that way in the future. That IS part of the maturing process - to learn from you experiences.

I think, in that way, this seems to have been a very important growing-up summer for you, because even in college, we are still growing up and we have not yet fully grown into ourselves. At least, some of us haven't. I know I for sure haven't.

Erachet said...

Oh, also, that Wicked song is awesome. I love Wicked.

the apple said...

D'varim P'shutim - amen.

Rebecca - thank you. I didn't always feel this way about my summer (there were numerous occasions of me stomping down a hallway muttering "I hate hate hate this summer") but at some point I had to get a grip on myself.

Erachet - exactly. This was a big summer for me because for once I was really out of my element. Someone on the program with me told me that everyone flounders when they're thrown into unfamiliar water. It's just a question of pulling yourself together and swimming your way to the top.

And I love this song. It really sums up how I feel about saying good-bye to certain people.

Rebecca said...

Apple, have u figured out who I am yet? :-)

the apple said...

Rebecca - yup! (Well, someone told me. Does that count?) I was very pleasantly surprised. How do you know who I am?

Diet Dr. Pepper said...

I'm happy for/proud of you. Enjoy your vacation!

Rebecca said...

I took a guess, Apple. :-) Really. No one told me, I promise (bli neder)!! I will say, however, that a strong percentage of the English majors I know have a blog...

fudge said...

ps...the apple, since i have just learned your secret identity, there is a question i must ask email is; i'm not sure, but i think one of your roommates last year was a friend of mine who lived in yerushalayim, and i was wondering if you knew how to get in touch with her...

Scraps said...

It takes a lot of maturity to be able to step back and look at the summer with unbiased eyes and take something positive even out of the negative experiences. Even though you wish you had reacted differently to a lot of the situations you were confronted with, the fact that you can look back and say, "I wish I had done this differently," is a sign that you learned from it and you'll take that with you for the next time. Because there will always be times in life when you'll be out of your element, and you will iy"H be able to draw from your experiences this summer to help you in whatever challenges you face in the future.

If I may echo rebecca's bracha, ali v'hatzlichi!

the apple said...

DDP - thank you!

Rebecca - well, I'm not 100% sure I'm an English major yet, but I think that English majors tend to love to write, and to express themselves really well with the written word (sometimes better than in person), so blogs are just a manifestation of that love. And, of course, being able to "talk" to many people one wouldn't otherwise reach is pretty cool as well :).

Fudge - you wrote ps - was there more to the message? And kudos on learning my secret ID (not so secret anymore I guess :) ).

Scraps - thank you.

Rebecca said...

Yeah, I agree Apple. :-) Well, whatever your major is, hatzlacha!

AL said...

For Apple – because you asked me to-

It's funny how things work out. In some ways I feel like our summer together started over a blog posting (only then it was me that was the focus – you cleverly figured it out) - interesting that our summer together should draw to a close through with this blog post….

Apple – though 8 weeks is by no means a long time, I have watched you grow tremendously. You struggles were genuine, reflecting the very real tensions that a thinking person feels when confronted by the world around. Every day I saw you grappling with many of the same things that I once grappled with and still do to this day. You did not give in – you did not bend, you confronted each day and each challenge with your convictions and emerged stronger as a result.

I will not soon forget late night walks around the parking lot, night trips to Safeway and Giant, meanderings around the hallways of 1131 U.B.W., long drives to New Jersey and all of our G-chats throughout the day. I've walked away from this summer -not only with a slightly used Swiffer mop – but with a real friend.

Apple – a few parting words…

- Don't stop smiling, even when the going gets tough
- Never lose your desire to grow and learn and become a better person, never.
- Stay committed to what you believe, I can speak for many when I say that you truly are an inspiration to us all.

Keep in touch.

Your friend AL.