The following post was written by Bridge Year Fellow, Sophie Lowry.

*written on Tuesday, August 23*

I am currently sitting at my gate in the Atlanta airport. I am here 2 hours early, as my aunt and
uncle who live here successfully instilled in me a deep fear of the nightmare that security here
can be. I was also teeming with anticipation and could not just sit around in my sister’s
apartment this morning while she worked, so I headed to the MARTA station as soon as all my
things were together. Better to sit around in the airport, I guess? I made it through security
quick and easy, though (save for a *brief* pat-down of my right ankle). And here I am, thinking
about everything that brought me to this moment and everything to come. “Change is on the
precipice,” a friend just told me, and a liminal space like the airport is “suuuch a good place to
do writing.” Currently taking advantage of that. And trying to drown out the voice in my head
telling me that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

I bought this plane ticket from ATL to AUS at the end of July, and at that point my plans for this fall were more set in stone than they are now. Plans fell through days before I left NC (I nearly went to a cult?? Story for another time), and here I am about to fly halfway across the country with a very empty gap year proposal due to my lack of official placement. Though I’m very unsure of my next steps, there’s one little phrase that has been giving me comfort.

Life is long.

A dear friend told me this as we realized we were saying goodbye and had no idea when or if we
might see each other again. I’ve been surprised by how much solace I’ve found in this phrase. I
brought it up to my dad, and it didn’t really resonate with him. He’s more of the belief that life is
short so we must cherish every moment, squeeze out every drop of life while we can. Maybe his
perspective is influenced by having lived more life and maybe being a bit more aware of his
mortality than I am (we young people live recklessly, what can I say). That sentiment is
everywhere though. This idea that we must pack everything in, be as productive as possible, that
we’re constantly running out of time.

This summer I have been unable to shake the nagging feeling that I am running out of time.
Running out of time to spend with people I love, running out of time to learn about things that
interest me, running out of time to figure out my future plans, running out of time to check off
some never-ending bucket list I had written for myself. I felt that this was my LAST chance to do
all these things as they are now, my only chance to experience them, that there is a loss of value
extracted from these experiences if I don’t do them NOW. And perhaps some of those
sentiments have some truth to them but thinking that way got me nowhere. I was paralyzed,
trying to figure out the most valuable thing to do with every minute of my time, and ending up
spending more time weighing all my options, picking apart what had the ideal conditions at that
moment than actually DOING anything, let alone fully enjoying it. Okay, I’m realizing that I’m
making it sound like I was miserable all summer. This was not the case. I’m only trying to make
the point that I could have simply relaxed so much more if I could turn off the voice telling me that I must maximize every minute. I think I was overly focused on outward appearances,
having something to show, and neglected to check in with myself on what I wanted to do.

A picture of my dog Percy on the morning I left NC: Friday, August 19.

 This was actually a major factor in my decision to apply for and then take this bridge year. I’ve
been so disconnected from myself (really, I’ve been socialized to be this way, to prioritize other
people and to maximize my productivity). This disconnection from myself also manifests as
disconnection from my community. Around the time that I applied for the bridge year, I was
tapping into my own desires and curiosities more than ever before and wanting to continue
doing so. Sometimes classes drain my well of intellectual energy and I was really hoping to have
more time to follow my curiosities, to strengthen my listening-to-myself muscle.

But the sense, really, the anxiety that I’m running out of time has thus far limited my ability to
do those things. That’s why I’ve been reminding myself: Life is long. You have time. Life is long
so open yourself up to as many experiences as possible. Life is long so let yourself fully enjoy
where you are right now. Life is long so you don’t have to do ALL the things at the same time
(turns out it’s kind of impossible to do so). Life is long so have faith that these beautiful people
will cycle back into your life someday. Life is long so you can slow down and let yourself rest if
that is what you need. Life is long so you can take the time to really learn something. Life is long
so let yourself be bad at things. Life is long so nothing has to be perfect right away.

This is what I’m taking with me (along with a carry-on and a personal item). We will see where I
end up. I have a feeling that things will work out.