Letting Go

What if? The question that I often ask, even though I know that no good will come of it. While asking this question allows for preparation… it can also send me to the point of no return by intensifying my fears.
What if I don’t pack the right things?
What if my connection is late at the airport?
What if my international power adapters don’t work?
What if I don’t take full advantage of each moment on CR?
I realize it’s only human to be a bit nervous about the unknown. Many travelers get a little anxious before a big trip. And in my brain, I know that this is a colossal waste of time, yet I still worry.
Letting go of these “what if” scenarios is one of my personal goals for CR. I want to live each day to the fullest and not focus on what might happen, rather what is happening now. Letting go of this question can allow me to seize each moment on this experience.
This is where the Familia comes in. In just the few months since meeting them, I have already come to respect them in so many ways. I can tell I can watch their example of seizing the moment and not letting themselves get wrapped up in things that may not go as planned. Letting go does not mean I do not have expectations for myself and CR as a whole. Letting go just means to allow yourself to be “all in” for CR at all times.
As I am writing this post, I am a mere 24 hours away from beginning my journey to Berlin, where we will officially begin. My first blog post was titled “65 Days” and it seems crazy to me that time has flown by so quickly. I know that CR will, sadly, seem to go by just as quickly as those 65 days did. That is exactly why I want to live fully in every second of every day and to not leave CR thinking, “I wish I had done that.”
I am somewhat nervous, just because I am entering into the somewhat unknown. But that same unknown is also what I find most exciting about CR. While we all have goals and expectations, we truly cannot plan what is going to happen, and that is perfectly okay. In fact, I think that is where the most memories are to be made.
As Robert Eliot says “Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.” What will happen on this experience, planned or not, is just a part of what makes CR10 what it will be.
In a short 24 hours, we will all start to make our way overseas. “What if” the journey of a lifetime is on the horizon? (But of course, we know that’s true)
See you all in Berlin!

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Graduation

As freshman year comes to a close, I am faced with the departure of many people I hold dear. Last Saturday the incredible souls of the senior class move on in their lives, on that day they became legendary. Their legacy of what they’ve done at TCU only to be surpassed by what they’ll go on to do. While I might have hoped to spend more time with the Michael Drake’s, Landon Hendrickson’s, Mary Grekstas’, Brenden Voss’, Hayley Henley’s, Ryan DeTamble’s, Hayley Henley’s, and Cole Sanford’s of the class, I am now left with numerous memories and above all, lessons.

As these people I’ve spent the year idolizing make their exit, I’m still here. I am examining myself in the wake of what has been a trying semester for me. While I’m constantly trying to move forward and incorporate their lessons, I still feel woefully inadequate when I look up to them, CR Alum or not, and recognize all the work there’s yet to be done, whether that be personally, academically, or co-corricularly. While I’ve been told what it takes to be number one, I’m still in the beginning stages of the journey, and as this year has taught me it’s going to fly by—both the experience of CR, and my remaining years at TCU. To me this signals that I need to hurry up now, and I can’t wait much longer. I know I got to start being right now, because I can’t get much wronger. This isn’t to say that I haven’t been trying, I just feel stuck relative to the progress I need for who I want to become.

I look forward to CR as a time of reflection, growth, and focus. When I look at myself and this semester I realize it’s time to shift from viewing those above and trying to learn, to viewing those around me and what they have to offer. At the beginning of this year, I figured that those around me can’t tell me nothing as I looked forward towards achievement. I believe that this experience will be the final knell for that line of thinking.

I’ve been fairly obsessed lately over the figure of Kanye West (if you can’t tell), and his approach to his art, philosophy, and life. While listening to his music and its complex  messages I’ve found myself reflecting upon my own life through the lens of his conflict and struggles. He’s led me to the belief that everything I’m not made me everything I am. I’m not normal, I’m not quiet, I’m not complacent, and I’m constantly struggling with the fact that I’m not perfect, no matter how hard I may try. These factors are what define me, I’m not afraid to separate from the crowd, I’m not afraid to be the one to speak up, and I’m not afraid to push myself to grow. I’m curious to see how these beliefs stand up throughout CR, particularly the first two assertions about standing up and standing out in the face of what we will see.

While Kanye’s music has caused me to reflect on my life, his recent antics have caused me to reflect on the world. I have always considered him to be extremely intelligent,  yet it still startled me when he began exposing his current philosophy of life. He has caused me to examine the polarized nature of our world and the hate fueled rhetoric tossed around so carelessly. It’s modified my style of thought, as I’m trying to become much more self-aware of the sources of my motivations and frustrations. Most importantly though, his actions along with the media’s reactions (the cutting of interviews and twisting of words), have caused me to recognize the importance of communication. I initially didn’t agree with anything Kanye has said, particularly with what the media portrayed, but when my love of Kanye led me to investigate deeper past the headlines, I’ve gained an incredible level of respect for what he is attempting to do. When on CR, I may shop so much I can speak Italian, yet even in attempting to learn the languages of other cultures I am coming to the realization that words are an incredibly ineffective way of conveying meaning. I have started to be much more careful in how I present my words, attempting to leave as little up to chance. As I continue my attempts at transparency in language through CR, I hope to be welcomed to the good life as I believe a decent chunk of conflict in our world comes through miscommunication and an unwillingness to listen.

In the shadow of graduation, my excitement only rises. One year down, one CR to go, and a whole lot of growth awaits between now and then. The seniors are making their move and I’m ready to make my own. All in, 24/7, you know the drill. So as I say good night I cherish the fact that in only one day I will be saying

Good Morning to CR 10,

Ryal Reddick

Counting Down

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

As I type this post, I am counting down the minutes until I leave home and travel to Europe for the first time. I am less than 48 hours from stepping on a plane that will take me across the Atlantic and to an entirely new continent. When I arrive, I will experience new cities, new languages, and new cultures that I have never been exposed to before. I cannot wait!

So many emotions are running through my mind as I pack my bags and attempt to mentally prepare for this experience. Although I am breathless with anticipation for this journey, I do have some concerns. What if I forget to pack something essential? What if I get lost? What if I don’t get as close with everyone as I desperately want to? What if I get stuck in my comfort zone and don’t push myself to grow? Most of these concerns are trivial (I most likely will forget to pack something and I most likely will get lost, but it will work out and I will be fine). However, because what I want most out of CR is to grow closer both with my fellow students and to learn more about myself, I need to prepare to invest my energy into getting to know the people around me, appreciating the places we visit, and learning about myself through the process.

Since the day I found out I was selected until now, I have learned so much more about what CR means and what it entails. When I first opened the email and discovered I had been selected, I thought I had been accepted to a summer trip. I was prepared to tour around Europe, write a few papers, and that would be it. Now I know, after Dr. Pitcock’s constant reminders, that Cultural Routes is so much more than a trip. It is an experience, painstakingly designed to change our perspective about European culture and history as well as our perspective about the world itself. From the beginning of our CR meetings until now, Dr. Pitcock has shown us the level of dedication, of attention to detail, of passion that he puts in to make this experience incredible. His commitment to making CR incredible foreshadows the commitment he expects of us to continue the tradition of excellence. Now I know that CR comes with many expectations that are put in place to help us grow as individuals. I am looking forward to beginning this experience with an open mind and seeing where CR takes me. I want to learn about culture and history, but I also want to be more aware of the world around me and incorporate that into my studies as a political science major. I cannot wait to expand my personal meaning of “global citizen” by having hands-on experiences with different parts of the world.

Cultural Routes is a familia, and I cannot wait to establish new friendships with everyone who is going on CR this summer. Meeting and talking with the previous CR students has taught me that CR is a community. CR students will do anything for each other and for the staff involved, and the staff will do anything for the students. Witnessing the former CR students reach out to us as one of their own and offering us advice is such a unique experience. I believe that the community CR builds will be one that will benefit all of us in our future years at TCU and beyond.

Dr. Pitcock keeps reminding us that we will get out of this experience as much as we put into it. As long as I put all of my effort into both the experience itself and into the people I will be traveling with, CR 10 will be the experience of a lifetime. See you soon, Berlin!

Well That Was Quick

Honestly, does anyone enjoy taking finals or moving out of their dorm? Saying goodbye to Milton Daniel and all of its inhabitants was definitely one of the saddest moments of freshman year, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone at TCU was ready to be done studying for test after test after test. While the previous week seemed like it was composed of controlled chaos with a thousand things happening at the same time, the juxtaposition that this weekend poses that couldn’t be stronger. From being able to sleep in a full size bed to eating home cooked meals, I feel like I was finally able to relax without having five tests looming over me.

While relaxing is a great word to describe a previous couple of days, my excitement levels have been rising exponentially over the last few weeks – and especially the last few days. Looking back on freshman year, finding out I was selected to be a part of this amazing experience called Cultural Routes was definitely one of my favorite memories. Few things would make me pause The Force Awakens, but that email certainly did. Even though I could barely contain that level excitement, the fact that I would be a member of this Familia did not feel real until about a week ago. When we left our final CR meeting before embarking on the journey, Dr. Pitcock’s words resonated in my head, “I’ll see you in Berlin.” It’s crazy how all of these events seemed to happen so fast I barely had time to catch my breath.

Now, with just over 24 hours before my flight departs, my heart is practically beating out of my chest with a mix of emotions. I’m delighted to know that I’m going to have such a unique opportunity for exploration alongside 15 amazing students (such as the one pictured above*). I’m thrilled at the thought of revisiting Treptower Park in Berlin, engaging with the exploring the ancient looking city of Munich, of skydiving in Interlaken, of breathing in the culture and history of Rome and Florence, of being overwhelmed by the calm beauty of Cinque Terre, of filling my mouth with gelato in Tuscany, and the list could go on. While these emotions make me feel like I’m on Cloud 9, I remember sitting in the BLUU with Davis Donaldson (a CR alumnus) and talking with him about how he felt before the experience. He explained that his excitement slowly grew as the journey approached, but he felt a constant underlying fear of the challenge in front of him. That is exactly how I feel. I know this will be one of my favorite college memories and I will grow extremely close to those around me, but those things will not come easily. I am going to be very sleep deprived (and I love sleep), it will be difficult to find time to find time to just spend with the Lord in His word, and exploring unknown locations is an adventure and will certainly be amazing, not knowing the languages spoken in any of the cities in which we will be puts me at a serious disadvantage.

However, I think the scariest thing about Cultural Routes is the fact that I have no idea what to pack. I mean I know what to pack, but knowing how much to pack is a different story. If you cannot tell, I am making a feeble attempt at being humorous in order to transition into a lighter-hearted theme of what I’m hoping to gain from this quest. I am in high hopes of my own personal growth over the next few weeks. I know I am going to be challenged in ways I cannot even imagine yet, but I know that overcoming these challenges will make me a stronger person, more prepared to tackle life.

 

*the one pictured above is Olivia Wales (also CR10). Note: Masquerade masks will not be involved in the making of Cultural Routes 10

The Before

It’s really weird to think that in 2 days I’ll be hopping onto an airplane to fly to Berlin. Right now I’m in that awkward phase between unpacking from moving out of my dorm room to packing up a bag to last me for about 4 weeks in Europe. My room is in disarray, and it feels like everything I put up will just be taken out again to put into my suitcase for me to use across the Atlantic. My room isn’t the only thing in disarray either, my mind is as well. We tend to have the environments we live in reflect some aspect of our mind, conscious or unconscious, and that holds true for my room that is cluttered and confused. I am cluttered and confused. I have all these hopes, all these “what ifs” going around in my head, about the journey that I will embark on beginning Tuesday. Dr. Pitcock always told us to go into the experience with no expectations, but that is easier said than done. I feel like every single one of us has constructed some sort of model in our minds that we expect CR10 to be like. It’s only natural for us to do that, but the moment that it becomes real is the moment we let go of that prototype and allow CR to be CR the way it should be naturally. Currently, I am trying to let go of my thoughts of how CR should go and just let CR be CR. That being said, there’s no reason why I can’t have goals for myself on this experience. I feel like setting these goals for myself will allow me to open myself up more to the people around me and allow them to influence me to be a better version of myself, and hopefully I can do the same to them. I have 3 main goals for this experience:

1- I want to be able to connect to God on a different level

My faith is the single most important aspect of my life to me. I know that I could be the richest man in the world, but if I don’t have Jesus, I have nothing. I could be the poorest man in the world, but I have Jesus, then I have everything. I truly hope that God uses CR to help me learn more about Him and more about His plan for my life.

2- I want to learn more about European culture

This one may seem a little superficial, but it’s true. I have little to no global awareness of how other cultures operate, so I really want to be influenced by the culture overseas and allow it to broaden my horizons.

3- I want to let go of my hesitations and go all in for people

NOW we’re getting deep. So sometimes, especially with people I don’t know very well, I build walls up around myself and kind of hold back when getting to know people. Usually people have to open up to me before I open up to them. There is some value to this, and I’m not trying to be sharing my feelings with every stranger on the street, but I really want to work on being more intentional with my relationships with others and being a genuine positive influence on people’s lives, whether that’s a smile like when passing a stranger on a street, or being truly open and honest with someone that I see on a pretty regular basis (like the other 15 students on this experience) and allowing them to get to know me and me genuinely wanting to know them and be there for them. I hope I have the opportunity to be there for others to lean on, and also allow myself to lean on others on this experience.

So there they are. My 3 big goals for CR10. I haven no doubt that as CR progresses I will develop more goals based on our activities and relationships we build, but those are my big 3 goals before my plane leaves the runway on Tuesday.

The sun is rising on CR10. I can see it now, and for all of you Disney fans out there, you can just hear the opening song of the Lion King playing (but pretend the sun is rising over the streets of Berlin, not the African Savanna). I can’t wait to see where we go and how we mesh as a group on this amazing experience. See you in Europe.

Ch Ch Ch Changes

48 hours stands between us and the moment we take off to an experience of a lifetime. Only 48 hours until I somehow prove to everyone that I can break my trend of being an “over-packer” and fit 3.5 weeks’ worth of stuff into my medium-sized suitcase. My outlook on CR has metamorphosed from being simply a trip (lol Dr. P don’t hate me) to truly being an experience of a lifetime, with some of the brightest people alongside. A myriad of emotions are whirling through my head as the clock ticks down closer and closer and closer. I am exceedingly excited to put in the simplest terms; but nevertheless, a small part of me still remains anxious for the process that is about to ensue.

Change and I have always had a love-hate relationship. As much as I can pretend I love to explore and discover and adventure, I am naturally a homebody who loves things to stay the same, in their place, and stagnant just for my liking. Familiarity and I are well-acquainted friends. Whether it be my mom rearranging my room or Starbucks changing their menu, change just makes me uneasy. Consequently, newness terrifies me. As many times as I can jam along to David Bowie’s “Changes” and belt out the words, I am just not a fan of change—fake fan alert. But the more I mature, the more I am learning that newness is what grows who I am.

The growth that we all will experience on CR is what both excites me and scares me the most. Funny how one thing can live on opposite extremes of the spectrum. I am excited to grow in knowledge, grow in community, grow in character, grow in culture, grow in emotional (and hopefully physical) strength and a multitude more. What scares me is the unfamiliarity that growth might gift me (don’t we all just love substandard presents). Sustained growth is an uncomfortable process, but that’s exactly what makes it work.

My goal for CR is to be uncomfortable and to be completely and utterly ok with that. I think it’s time that comfortability and I break off our deep-hearted relationship. Relinquishing my trepidations starts this very moment as I tell myself that I WILL find my terminal and WILL NOT get lost in the airport. I also am hoping that our team can grow a bond that pushes one another to be the best versions of themselves (cliché, love it) and make some rad memories along the way. I firmly believe that people help people; friends sharpen friends. Memories are what shape our existence and alongside each other, we could make some good ones. Our team has stellar potential—now let’s reach it.

Despite it all, I know that I am ready; I know that this process will be a wild ride and I know that not an ounce of me will ever regret it. See you all there CR10!!

IT’S NOT TIME TO JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE, INDIGO!

Final Blog Post PRE-CR10

Holy moly… We’re so close–literally three days away from being in BERLIN–and it is truly hitting me now. A couple weeks ago, with finals and theatre juries staring me in the face, I didn’t have a whole lot of time (or the mental capacity) to fully grasp that CR was actually about to happen. Well, now I’m sitting in my home in Georgia, thinking about all that I need to pack and how else to prepare for this adventure. IT’S HAPPENING.

Honestly, I think my greatest anxiety about CR10 at this point is about packing. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that person who packs 50 t-shirts but forgets toothpaste… That would most definitely be me. Thus, to avoid as much unnecessary packing trouble as possible, I am making sure to sit down with my parents and go through each item I’m brining. I am also using the recommended packing list we were given at one of the CR10 meetings, so I should be good to go. I know I’ll probably forget something, we’re just hoping that something is not my passport or the sorts.

I’m also a little bit anxious about Interlaken… I must say, I am quite the thrill seeker when it comes to outdoorsy things/jumping off of tall things, but the prospect of skydiving or hang-gliding is intimidating me. I have never experienced anything of this kind, and I’m so so SO pumped–especially after consulting some past CRers about this–but the thought of potentially jumping out of an AIRPLANE is giving me butterflies.

A goal for myself for CR10 is to live in the moment. To press into the ups and downs of the PRESENT MOMENT, because I believe that’s the best route to growth. I tend to mentally plan ahead for the “next big thing,” so I’m hoping to learn to let that go and enjoy the beauty of the “now.” Regarding this particular experience, I hope to be present in each city and not anticipate what is to come so much that I am not fully enjoying where I’m at. With that in mind, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT JUMPING OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. Dr. P, if I start talking about that, you have permission to chastise me. But seriously, I want to enjoy and learn from people and places one city at a time!

I am also hoping CR10 teaches me how to be alert and intuitive, even in the face of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. As we walk about these new cities and experience an abundance of new things and people, I hope to be able to acknowledge my emotional and mental states enough to give myself grace and then let go of myself, in order to fully experience all that is around me. With an open and perceptive mind, I aim to fully immerse myself into each culture regardless with how unfamiliar I may be with my surroundings.

This is gonna be good!!! Here’s to pressing into the now and making sure all of the essentials end up in my suitcase!

-Indigo