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Trusting life

June 13, 2013

My fifth grade teacher made us do trust falls. I never had a problem with catching the person because, I mean, what was I going to do, let my fellow student fall to the ground? No, I wasn’t that type of 10-year-old. I may not have had optimal upper body strength, but I was going to use the strength I had to catch that kid. And if arms weren’t enough, I’d put my back into it, bend my legs, whatever it took to keep that ground away from my peer. I guess that was the point – to show that we had each other’s backs, that we were there for each other and could trust each other.

I had trouble when it came my turn to do the falling. When I’m driving and I have to make a left turn out of my neighborhood, I look right, I look left, and I look right again. My driver’s education teacher told me not to do that last look, but I can’t help but get in that quick extra glance. I guess it’s my mind doing one more safety check or something. And when I was the one falling in trust falls, I remember turning my head and peering out of my peripheral vision to make sure the student who was supposed to catch me was there. We were supposed to tilt backward on our heels, body straight, but at the last second, I couldn’t help but step back to prevent myself from actually falling. I guess it was survival instinct. Not that I couldn’t trust my fellow students, some of whom I had known for many years (relatively, for a 10-year-old), to catch me, but the actual act of falling set something off in my brain that set something off in my foot telling it to step back and prevent me from hitting the ground.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my future. I’ve been trying to answer the big questions, such as how do I want to spend my remaining four semesters, why – deep down – am I pursuing journalism, what do I want to do out of college, what would fulfill me, what would make me happy, how can I do well. Sometimes I think being 20, I have little to no authority to speak on the subject of life; I haven’t had any life-shattering moments (though plenty of things I claim to be existential crises). But I try to speak on it anyway, and here it is: I’ve had disappointment and rejection, and I wonder if I’m going the right direction and taking the necessary steps. But as I’ve been thinking about all these things, I’ve realized that life is not linear. There is no stair-step path that will lead me to my ultimate goal. All I can do is take the steps that will make me happiest, and maybe I’ll reach my ultimate goal, or maybe I’ll find something better along the way.

The important thing, though, is just to trust life.

So as we continue with college and the real world and wherever we go, sometimes we just have to straighten our bodies, close our eyes and tip backward. Sometimes, life will catch us. But sometimes, it won’t. And we will hit the ground. We may try to stick our foot out and catch ourselves before we fall, but just like I can’t take that last glance when I’m driving, we can’t always stick out that foot. Sometimes, we just have to let ourselves fall and trust that life will catch us. Not necessarily that we will succeed, but that we’ll land on our own two feet.

And if we do hit the ground, if life is not there to catch us, who will be there to lift us back up and put us on our own two feet? This brings me to the first of my four important life values. That the thing that is most important in life is the people in it, the people we surround ourselves with who will have our backs. Sure, it may be difficult to do a physical trust fall, but in the trust fall of life, so to say, it is our family and our friends who will pick us up when we hit a rough patch. The people who are meant to stay in your life will stay in your life, and they will reach out their hand, use whatever upper body strength they have, use their backs, bend their knees if they have to and help you figure it out.

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