Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: Growing into contentment

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Mari Katherine Raftopoulos

My favorite part of traveling is the journey to get there.

No matter the method of transportation, whether it is a drive, flight, or boat ride, the journey helps me settle into my next location.

For me, it is the moment when I don’t have to think about what the next step might be. It is the moment when I no longer have to worry about what to pack or if I tied up every loose end, because once you start the journey, there is only forward movement.

My weekend travels took me west, to my old stomping grounds of San Diego.

The ocean breeze never felt so refreshing, the old dive bars never felt so trendy and the hugs from old classmates never felt so warm. Upon returning to San Diego and revisiting my college routine and favorite spots, I realized the contentment I feel in this new chapter of my life.

The flight to get there was the first time in awhile that I had time to breathe. I didn’t bring entertainment on the flight and with nothing to distract me for two hours, I found myself recounting all of the trips I took to San Diego and how different this particular trip was.

Although some of us had to be at work on Monday, there were very little worries brought into the weekend. There was no homework, no pressure to eat at the newest restaurant or attend the most popular event. It was a weekend full of our favorites — from bars and burrito stands to beaches and people, it was nothing short of A-list fun.

I did college the way I want to do this next chapter of my life — with intention, love, vision, travel and spontaneity. This allowed me to close my college chapter with no regrets and move forward.

And at the same time, it made revisiting this old chapter a rewarding moment, and realize that my life is progressing forward.

Although this new chapter is a much different phase of my life than college, with more responsibility and obligations, I never want to lose the part of myself that I acquired in college.

When moving on to a new phase, it is easy to get lost in the transition. It is easy to become the next stage instead of the next stage becoming you.

In other words, the reason you move forward is because your past brought you there. This is the reason I will never be 100 percent a businesswoman, 100 percent a college student, 100 percent a country girl or 100 percent a city girl — I will be percentages of various experiences.

My best friends and I were discussing our new lives this weekend.

Four months ago, we were all on the same page, going to class, to the library, sorority meeting and all the other festivities in between. Now it is nearly impossible to get us all in the same location or even reach us on the phone. Some of us have 9 to 5 careers, while others have the spontaneous schedule of a hostess or freelancer.

But above all, we are all individually content with this new chapter. There is nothing better than being content.

In the midst of a homecoming celebration, we had a moment and raised our glasses.

My friend said, “What are we toasting to?”

“To being content,” I said.

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