In January of 2020, I decided “deliberate” would be my word of the year. In other words, I wanted to be fully present with my decision-making and direct my actions toward things that would really fulfill me. Like most New Year’s resolutions, this declaration was gradually forgotten as the everyday minutiae carried on and I got distracted by life. 

Then came March. Everyone’s “everyday life” got turned on its head. Quarantine meant there was nothing to do but sit with our thoughts. Big ones too. We worried about the devastating toll the pandemic was taking on people all over the world. About the safety of our friends and family. We wondered about how we prioritized life pre-pandemic. I knew that going forward I wanted a few things to change.

In June of 2020, though not consciously thinking of it as a commitment to my word of the year, I started the college transfer process and made a decision that would prove to be one of my most deliberate acts thus far.

My freshman and sophomore years at Boston College could only be described as “blah.” I found it difficult to adjust to the “cold” nature of the East coast. It was hard to feel “seen” in many of my classes, and difficult to be part of such a competitive environment at all times. Mostly, I knew it wasn’t fulfilling me the way I would like it to and, simply put, it wasn’t the right fit. That did not make the decision to transfer any less daunting. 

Google searches provided simple listicles about transfer credits and acceptance rates, but the questions I had were deeper. How hard was it going to be to meet new people? Would it be possible to find the sense of community I was missing at BC? Would I even be able to go to school in-person? Likely, at the root of all these was a fear about what I would do if my second go at college was still not what I was hoping for. 

Many of these questions were unknowables and uncontrollables. A few months into the pandemic, this was something with which I was familiar. At the time I had to make my decision, we had been completely out of control of the world around us for a few months and would be for months to come. While things were rough, we were still OK. Maybe the same could be said for a huge life change and a switch to a new school. That was some comfort in all of the chaos. 

Being deliberate in this process did not mean I had all the answers. It meant I deliberately decided to trust in my ability to do hard things and ultimately ended up somewhere that was a much better place for me. I decided to transfer to Kenyon College, a tiny liberal arts school in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio. Campus is beautiful, coffee is delicious, and people have made it feel like home. Some days still prompt uncertainty, but if the past year has taught me anything it is that sometimes that leads to the most meaningful transitions.

Mary Hester is serving an internship at Wednesday Journal this summer and will be writing a regular column during that time.

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