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Learning from experience
These past few days have been, to put it lightly, pretty unpleasant for me.
First, I fell and fractured a bone in my elbow, which makes it difficult to do basic things like unlock my front door, brush my teeth or eat with utensils.
Then, after I’d been pretty concerned about carjackings and muggings for several weeks, someone broke into my apartment. Of course, the one thing I hadn’t been concerned about was my personal security once I entered the (perceived) safety of my home.
I think it would be a very fair reaction for me to feel upset about these things. These are two unfortunate events which occurred within a three-day time span. Both of them left me feeling vulnerable. Both of them were things I hadn’t anticipated. Both of them were things I wish had never happened at all.
But as much as the last couple of days have blown, I feel so much better equipped to go out into the real world after college having endured these experiences.
Regarding my elbow, this marked the first time I’d ever dealt with an injury of this sort. I was worried that I was being a baby—that I’d just bruised myself and wasn’t really hurt badly enough to warrant serious medical attention, especially because no one else I was with seemed concerned. By taking the step to visit an urgent care center, I learned to advocate for my own health—to trust my own instincts when I felt like something was wrong.
This may seem like a big “duh” to you, but it wasn’t so obvious for me. My tendency with pain is to assume it’ll go away on its own, and it felt like a luxurious decision to seek medical treatment for a potential injury. I felt weirdly validated to hear something had been injured, and I felt grown up for dealing with it on my own, for scheduling my own appointments, picking up my prescriptions and all.
As for the break-in, I think it would’ve made sense for me to panic. I was sleeping soundly while someone forcibly entered my place of living. I’m so lucky that nothing of mine was stolen, because something easily could have been. After all the hours I spent worrying about security around campus, walking with my phone keyed up to 911, looking around carefully as I went up and down the streets while wielding my safety whistle and my sharp keys, I was dealing with an incident that put me in potential danger.
Oddly, though, the incident made me no more worried than I’d been before. I still am worried about safety but dealing with a brush firsthand just confirmed that I was right to be concerned in the first place. I feel like this is a learning experience—something I’ll take with me as I head out of the Washington University bubble and off to the real world.
Unfortunately, things you don’t want to have happen do indeed happen sometimes. Of course, I’ve had some bad times throughout my life—it’s not as if everything was perfect until this week. But I feel privileged to have had my parents there to assuage most of my concerns throughout my life.
Things have gone wrong, and I’ve literally run to my mom and dad for comfort time and time again.
There’s a very real reason why I was worried I’d been a baby about my arm. In the past, I’d never scheduled my own doctors’ appointments aside from a couple of minor Student Health Services visits (pink eye, flu shots, the usual stuff). Honestly, I even avoided getting my computer fixed or my hair cut until I got home to New York because I wanted my mom there to go with me.
Having to deal with real-world problems on your own sucks—but it’s also an inevitable part of becoming an adult. I learned a lot from my time at Wash. U., from tangible facts and figures learned in the classroom to lessons about leadership and journalism from the year I was editor-in-chief of Student Life. But there aren’t many of my experiences at the University that prepared me to take care of problems like an adult.
Although recent events have been annoying and at times slightly frightening, I feel more confident that I’m actually prepared for the big real world that awaits me.