Classes start tomorrow.
My second semester at Duke will begin at 2:30 pm with an Introduction to Old Testament lecture.
I’ve been cleaning my desk, attempting to get ready for everything to start. Tonight, I finally dealt with all the papers from last semester – assignments and notes and readings sorted out and filed away. The textbooks are starting to pile up and I am equal parts excited and overwhelmed by them.
And as I’ve been cleaning and throwing away and getting ready and settling back into my space in Durham, I’ve been finding myself thinking how entirely different this feels from five months ago, when I was about to start my first semester.
Orientation was terrifying, honestly. I was sure that coming to Duke was a mistake. I had a handful of acquaintances and no real friends here in Durham. I couldn’t even drive to Target without a GPS. I wandered cluelessly around the div school, trying to find my classrooms, desperately trying to look less scared than I felt.
But now – I know which bus to take. I know where my classes meet. Last night, my apartment was full of friends, reunited after the break, talking and laughing and switching precept sessions so we could be in class together. Tomorrow I’ll hug people and I’ll sit in my usual spot in church history and I’ll joke about professors and assignments. I’m planning museum trips and family dinners. This little basement apartment is covered in christmas lights and knick-knacks, a space that we’ve made our own.
So in some ways, the start of the semester is so much easier, this time around. I have people – good, solid, salt-of-the-earth people – by my side. I’ve been there, done that, didn’t fail out. I know my way around Durham – or at least, to Target. Classes are new, sure, but tomorrow isn’t entirely unknown.
Which also, in some ways, makes it harder.
I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. I know how tired I’d be, the late nights and the early mornings. I know the amount of reading and writing that will take over my days and nights and weekends. I know how the expectations, the pressure, my perfectionism and my competitiveness combine to make an unhealthy blend of stress and anxiety. I know exactly how brutal final exams will be (and trust me, I am not looking forward to that) and I know how many times I’ll wonder if I should drop out. How many times I’ll question if I’m in the right place, doing the right thing.
That hasn’t changed. Five months later, one semester down, and it still feels like I’m second-guessing the decision.
But I also know that there will be days when I know, when I am sure, that I am in the right place.
I’m still doubting. I’m still questioning. I probably always will be.
Classes start tomorrow, and I’m not ready. But that’s okay.