"...But when you look back everything is different."

Early in January my sister and I took a hiking trip to the Billy Goat Trail at the historic C&O Canal. Getting there took considerable effort as both people in the car are directionally challenged (even with the help of Google maps) Our hike had to begin at “Section B” of a trail that offered starting points at Sections A, B, and C each following starting point is more difficult than the last. I’m pretty sure we drove past the Section B starting point several times, but co-pilots in the Arias family are seldom listened to so our hike the start to our hike was delayed.


The entrance to the trail has a decent sized boulder next to it that seemed deceptively easy to conquer, kind of like an economics class. Of course, my sister made a beeline for the rock and starts climbing to the top. After the initial struggle, she makes it. Looking back on that day, at that moment makes me think of the position I’m in. I’m an upperclassman at UMD, I’ve had the pleasure of working for great people on several internships and even managed to navigate my GPA through a couple of statistics classes (mostly) unscathed.

From my vantage point a lot of the things I’ve done during undergrad have become disassociated from the timidness, even fear, I felt at the beginning of each journey. The person that’s writing this isn’t far removed from the person who worked on their first internship a few summers ago. I had no idea what to expect and stumbled through it. The internships, classes, and semesters that followed are now in my rear-view mirror along with the experience that came with them. Now I think of challenges that seemed insurmountable and mistakes that seemed irreversible as bumps along the road. Getting to the top of that boulder alters physical perspective and erases the initial disbelief that the climb can be made.

Sometime around mid-March, I’m going to feel like the sky is falling. The semester will be in full swing. Papers will feel like they’re due every other week, applications will be waiting to be filled out, and that one class will keep getting tougher and tougher. When those times roll around I’m going to force myself to dig up this post and take a dose of my own medicine.

The snippet in the title comes from a C.S. Lewis quotation that reads: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?”. I don’t feel all that different from the person I was freshman year of college, and that self didn’t feel all that different from past versions in past years. I’m sure four years from now when I’ve graduated and started my adult life in the real world the worries I felt during undergrad will seem trivial. They’re not. They never were. The only thing that will be different will be my way of looking at the world and more importantly, how to meet the challenges ahead.