Five Days of Ruka: Abbie

Welcome to Day 2 of the Five Days of Ruka! It’s kind of crazy that there are only a few days left in 2016, but following this morning’s news of Carrie Fisher’s death (may the Force be with you, Princess), I’m looking forward to starting a new year.

In my final meeting of the semester with Dr. McNary-Zak, she asked me how the semester compared to my expectations for Ruka. As I rambled through my thoughts, I realized that I couldn’t answer the question because I didn’t remember what I expected to get out of this fellowship. It’s not because I didn’t have expectations or because expectation and reality aligned perfectly. Rather, the experience of being a Ruka fellow has proved to be so organically unique that, looking back, I realized bringing expectations into the process was in many ways futile.

What I do know about expectations versus reality is that I ended up needing this space in ways I never anticipated, and I have no idea what my semester would have been like without it. Fall semester was rough in a lot of different ways, and in almost every situation Ruka was there to provide support and an emotional/physical/mental outlet. So even though I don’t remember exactly what I anticipated from this fellowship, I do know that in almost every way it has gone far beyond whatever those vague expectations were.

In thinking back on the semester, one of the most prominent themes to which I return is time and the idea of setting aside time for Ruka. Time is a tricky thing for me. I’m a terrible procrastinator (“productive procrastination” is my jam). It’s hard for me to say no. I enjoy doing a lot of different things, especially now that everything feels so “last chance.” At the beginning of the year, I was worried that the busyness of my “Rhodes life” would make it hard to give Ruka the time it deserved. When I got the fellowship, I told myself I wouldn’t add any other commitments…and then proceeded to add five. (I wish I was hyperbolizing.)

However, as the fellowship began, the worry about dedicating my time fell away. Ruka stopped feeling like an abstract commitment to which I had to dedicate x number of hours a week, and more like a community and a space to which I wanted to contribute, support, and prioritize. I definitely wasn’t perfect in that regard, especially as finals kicked in and I fell off the face of the earth. However, I was always aware of how natural it felt to make Ruka a part of my life. My favorite weekends were ones with whole days dedicated to the Ruka. Spontaneous adventures, late night meals, and unexpected hours spent talking with housemates are some of my fondest memories of the semester. Most of all, no matter how many assignments I had due that week, Monday night meetings were always an opportunity to step away from the stress of Rhodes and work on this thing I love doing with people I love.

Time management will always be something I struggle with. But I’m grateful for this chance to step back and process my experiences from last semester in order to build upon those experiences in the new year. I’m grateful for this space and these people, and excited to see what the next few months will bring. I guess I shouldn’t wonder about it too much, though – after all, expectations of the Ruka never seem to live up to reality.

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