On Ups and Downs

I have always been afraid of roller coasters. They are high and fast, and as someone who hates bumps in the car that make you lose your stomach for just a split second, I can NOT handle the loop-de-loops.

To parallel to something less random, I also do not like having unstable moods. The “roller coaster of emotions” (trite) expression is almost as uncomfortable as being strapped into the real thing.

These past two weeks have not only had the bumps of a car trip down an unpaved street but the drops and steep climbs of the most insane coasters at Disney.

The trip itself, the friends, food and all-around experiences have been extraordinary.

Here, I am not a lowly freshman, I am up there with the rest and have learned (and possibly taught? Input, guys?) so much from my new friends here, from rising sophomores like myself to 25-year-old graduate students (happy birthday Brandon! How’s 25 feel?). I never knew how good it would feel to be surrounded by such driven yet down to earth people who are all riding this ride with me. While I may be the most terrified, white-knuckling it in the back, I know that everyone else has been there too, now at the front of the ride waiving their hands in the air like it’s no big deal. We were all beginners once and we all get scared sometimes.

From days at the beach where I swam in the Aegean Sea and talked about life over milkshakes to nights that end at 2:30 a.m. in an nondescript bar with a piece of pizza in my hand, ouzo and cigarette smoke in the air and chatting about politics with colleagues turned amazing friends, I am truly living. I could not picture a more amazing trip, and it has only been two of the five weeks.

Then the drop hits. When it does, my stomach filled with milkshakes and laughter slips up into my throat.

This trip has also come with challenges and downfalls, the kind that leave you feeling scared for the next inevitable drop and twist in the tracks that makes me want the ride to stop for a moment to collect myself and then move on.

As a first-year journalism major, I have not yet perfected the skills needed to be on a coaster that only goes up. (can you really perfect it though? Always a small bump, no matter what, I suppose, no matter how old you get.) The “you must be this tall to ride” sign looms over me, and at some points during the trip, I have let that defeat me. After my first story finished up, I was faced with a blank reporters notebook, and worse, a blank mind. Quickly, my brain filled with a whole jumble of ideas for my next article. While I still love most of those ideas, they were shot down almost as fast as I could come up with new ones.

Each time an idea was turned away, the coaster lurched down, sending my head reeling and sinking my heart further into the pit of my stomach. At one point, I wanted to get off.

However, as I am writing this, I would like to inform you all that I am still on my ride, a steady incline in my horizon as I have finally found a story to tell and have the resources to do it and the go-ahead from our faithful conductor (can I call you that, Carlene? It fits the whole theme).

I still hate roller coasters. They are scary, unpredictable and can go down at any second. But I am so thankful that I didn’t give up on this five-week ride, because riding the high of a published story, a great interview and the feeling after an amazing 3 a.m. conversation has been worth the lowest of the lows.

Here’s to the next peak! Stay tuned for my upcoming article and of course, more blog posts.

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