I was never much of a science student. As a high schooler, I was much more interested in Spanish and History than chemistry or physics. But there were a few lessons in biology that fascinated me and made me wonder if maybe I had a scientist deep inside me after all. One of those lessons was about the properties of water. Cohesion and adhesion, words I had previously associated more with social groups and scotch tape than with science. Water is a fascinating substance, and as I began to learn about its unique properties I have to admit I was intrigued. One of the images during our water unit that sticks out in my memory is the photo of a water strider, poised on the surface of the water. I called it the Jesus bug, because it could walk on water. As a child I had seen these bugs while hiking in the northern California coastal cliffs, on the streams that I crossed by footbridge, looking as though they were holding on for dear life. They seemed to defy nature-how could a bug possibly walk across water? The cohesion of water was part of the answer-water molecules stick to each other, because of their charges. Even upon discovering this, it still seemed magical to me, and to this day I marvel at the water strider’s graceful glide across ponds.
Right now, I feel like a water strider, poised on the surface of the water, hoping not to fall down into the water below. It is the first full day of my spring break, and a time that I should spend searching for jobs and opportunities for after graduation, but a time when I am too worried about my thesis and schoolwork to focus on the job hunt. It’s been a whirlwind two weeks between exams, papers, and my jobs, and here it is now, almost the end of March. I told myself I would know my post-graduation plans no later than the beginning of April-at the absolute latest. Now, it’s looking very likely that I won’t know even then. And the kicker is, I can’t even spend too much time stressing about it because I have to churn out my thesis this break. I’m trying to get myself accustomed to the idea of moving back home come September, working as a substitute teacher, and getting EMT certified while searching for a “real” job and inspiration. I feel like I’ve run out of steam, in the sense that I’ve worried so much I don’t have the energy for more worry at this time. But I feel a certain level of peace, too; as though i am paused in the midst of the chaos.
Resilience is a funny thing. I told my friend Jon yesterday about my rejection from the Peace Corps and the cancellation of my spring break trip, and he was shocked at how calm I was. In the week since it felt like my world came crashing down on all sides, I talked to countless sympathetic friends about how horrible I was feeling. I broke my Lenten promise of no sweets and ate a bowl of frozen yogurt to try to drown my feelings in sugar. One friend even bought me a stunning bouquet of flowers to cheer me up. I shed tears until there were none left in me. Now, I am the water strider, poised on the surface of the pond, about to take my first step. But like the water strider, though it seems at first like I am taking nature-defying steps by beginning to move on, in reality it’s the most natural thing in the world. Resilience is like that–to make that first step towards recovering seems at first so impossible and yet it is natural, inevitable. Life goes on.