As I was driving here this morning, the phrase that kept coming to mind was that I "stumbled up the back steps and am walking gracefully out the front door." Not that I'm walking all that gracefully, necessarily, just, I look much less like a baby giraffe than I did upon my arrival.
I can't remember when I heard it first, specifically, but I know it was in the context of my sorority. So I went digging around online for the poem, or the story from which it came, and I don't know if this is the one I heard, but I thought it was beautiful.
I also think it's not confined to the experience of being in a sorority, but eloquently expresses the pains and trials of periods of growth in our lives.
"What is __(name of group or organization here)_? If its really anything at all, it is not entirely, a logo, national conventions, monogrammed rings, worn-out
songs, Bylaws, Membership Standards, or a badge. And it is not
entirely an institution, a creed, a legacy, an obligation, or a way of life.
If you're going to insist that it is something, it is only......
Moving in for the first time and slowly learning that all beautiful people have fat legs and use mouthwash and wear last year's coats.
...Long, tired eternities of black coffee and exam snacks when you can't remember the Renaissance architects or the stages of photosynthesis and respiration.
......Borrowing a skirt from Karen and a blouse from Amy, and shoes from Meredith, and a belt and a coat from Liz and passing it off as your own.
...Sitting on the back steps and listening with all your helplessness because she's lost and she's lonely and it seems the whole world just fell into ugly pieces
......And it's coming in very late one night and closing the door to tell someone who's seen you through the hardest years of your life that you're happy now, and you've found someone
...And this all is, I suppose, a kind of evaluation.
You grow up inside these elegant halls, and perhaps you do learn more of the
grizzly, ungrateful circus we call life than if you had lived it somewhere else.
You learn that a football player is sometimes just shoulder pads and that skinny arms sometimes hide a great man. You learn that some lecture halls are just
watery echoes and that there are silent rooms for deeper rivers of
self-reflection. You learn that no matter where you come from or who took you
there, you've still got to find that one small acre that belongs to you, by
You learn to wait, because change is slow and change isn't always
You learn that there's still a lot left to believe in and a whole lot more to hope for.
You learn that love has never been easy, and that it's a long time coming.
And if you're very smart, or very lucky, you learn that no matter how big or how messy the world becomes, what is precious and what is permanent is always the same.
And in the very end, you learn that this experience can only be a better way to stumble up the back steps and walk gracefully out the front door."
If you tweak just enough of the scenarios, it could very easily be a job, or a new city, or any of the other things that force us to learn about ourselves.