Everything old is new again. Like the pages of a neglected novel that has been rediscovered after decades stowed away, I am opening the beginning of a new chapter in a familiar place. A place I arrived eight years and what feels a lifetime ago. A time when I was wide-eyed, idealistic and very much uninitiated to the rigors of life. Life, it seems, has deftly woven a sense of humor within its pages. I’m back in Oxford, Ohio.
I’ve returned for the only reason anyone comes to Oxford — Miami University. This time, I lug alongside me the weight that comes with experiencing the realities of the world. The weight of over a year of battling health anxiety. And for all that, I also carry a purpose.
I’m studying for a second master’s degree because the reality is, my first provided me with very little. I wasn’t prepared for it and, despite doing well, had no idea what would come after. Sure, I made some lasting friendships and had some amazing times in London. But academically, it left me wanting more. This time is different.
The course I’ve undertaken is a Master of Environmental Science. Besides the various skills and knowledge I’ll be taught that will make me exponentially more employable— data analysis, coding, Geographic Information Systems, scientific protocols, etc. — I’m here for another more important and existential reason: because I like to feel small. I enjoy feeling insignificant. I like to know that, despite the fact that I’ll be gone before too long, the world and humanity will continue for as long as the Sun allows us to. And I would like to think that I made an impact while I was here. An impact on all those who will come after me. This knowledge makes me feel more alive.
As I leaf through this book again with new eyes, I expect a different story. I hope for one. Then again, Oxford is the same as it always was. So am I, really.
Everything old is new again? Maybe, maybe not.