Ellie, a high school senior, wrote the following reflection for one of her college essays:
In life, I have just been going through the motions, never stopping to pause and contemplate or observe anything. I chased happiness, but once I finally held contentment in my grasp, it quickly slipped through my fingers and the chase started all over again. Until this year, that was enough to keep me satisfied.
March of 2020 came abruptly. What I thought was a week off from school, a week to goof off with my friends, turned out to be months of isolation. Everything slowed down. I no longer had classes or after school activities to fill the time. Nothing to distract me. Nothing to look forward to. Without the routine of what had been my normal life, I became more aware of the mess of thoughts running through my head.
Initially I believed the overlapping layers of thoughts could be separate entities; different “people” all trying to influence my thoughts. However, I’m now sure that they are all parts of me in varying layers of consciousness. After realizing the possibility of many echoing sub-thoughts for every definitive thought I’ve ever had, I question if I’m truly the one dimensional character I’d visualized myself to be. Maybe I am complex, but just had not bothered to look.
During the dramatic change of life, I began meditating in order to listen to this vast consciousness. There’s so many little subtle whispers that piece together a multitude of thoughts and emotions, leading me to conclusions, feelings, wants, and needs. Whispers that went unnoticed as I sprinted through life, too eager to reach whatever came next.
There’s some sort of consciousness within me who is aware of these whispers and chooses whether to act on them or not. But am “I” synonymous with this consciousness? Do “I” control it, or does “it” control me?
Not fully understanding what’s inside the mind is overwhelming, like I could drown in the vast sea of possible consciousness, while I wade in the shallow shore of simple awareness. Other times I wonder if there’s anything even there, or am I just overanalyzing myself? Wouldn’t it just be so much easier to live in the seemingly blissful monotony I’d been stuck in before March?
But was I really better off before? Sure, I would be spared from the confusion of trying to understand my inner consciousness, but I would also be ignorant to the complexity of consciousness. Before, I was only what I did, who I hung out with, my grades in school. When schools closed and social restrictions began, I thought I would just become a shell of who I had been, but that is not the case. I am an interesting, deeply complex, and intuitive individual.
When life reverts back to the way it was before, I won’t. I have awakened to a more profound perception of reality that I cannot deny. Gaining a new confidence in my intuition, I am embracing a deeper, longer lasting sense of fulfillment—no longer pining over doubts. Though I have only dipped my toe into the unknown of inner consciousness, I’m ready to dive in and find out who is behind every thought and a more genuine peace of mind.