Feeling Like a Toddler

Authored By:

Ryann S.

I cannot talk for myself.

I cannot understand everything I read.

I cannot easily figure out what most people are saying.

I cannot find my way around without assistance.

I cannot find a bathroom at a moment's notice.

Essentially, as a 21-year-old young woman in her fourth year of undergrad, I feel as capable as a toddler.

To explain more fully, nothing is easy anymore. Paying at the corner convenience store requires my upmost focus and attention. Walking into a cafe comes with an obligation to know how this particular cafe expects me to order (kiosk, front counter, at my table?). Sitting down at a restaurant requires me to look around at the dining-habits and social queues of those around me in order to not look completely foolish while eating a soup that I swear I thought was supposed to be a plate of food. What makes this all-the-more challenging is my own inability to ask for clarification - a skill that proved amazingly useful while I studied in Spain last semester.

Growth is not usually a (rice)cake-walk. Typical features of the "growing-process" include challenge, pain, and oodles of awkwardness - but that is okay. Not only is it okay, it is actually kind of perfect. Being forced to grow is not something that we really have to do past the age of whenever puberty ends. Forcing and pushing myself into situations where growth is a must has made the whole endeavor just that much easier. While every so often I experience the occasional growing pain, the constant exposure to newness has created a fondness within me for unfamiliarity.

Despite the trials that accompany studying, working or living in a new region, I would not change my current circumstances for anything. As the Korean Buddhist monk Muhak once said, "Among all the actions of life, those of a tiny baby are best." Consequentially, I have decided that feeling like a toddler for five months is not the worst thing in the world (and may very well be the best thing).

I can meet new people daily (which my extroverted-self loves).

I can study and use a new language.

I can be thankful when someone takes time to help me understand what they are saying.

I can be surprised by walking down a new coffe-shop-filled street.

I can laugh with my roommate as we struggle to find a bathroom on the way home at 10pm.

Attached is a bonus photo of me as a toddler :)