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As my DukeEngage experience comes to an end, I’ll admit I’m not as transformed as the flyers and brochures would’ve lead me to believe. I had no moment of serendipity when I realized that life was to be seen from a different angle, that my placement in the universe was any different from where it was when I came in, or anything of the like. No local wise woman took me in to tell secrets, most of the coffee I had tasted like what I drink back home, and my career has not taken a turn in any other direction. I didn’t finish the book I brought along with me, either.

However, at the same time, I believe that changes in oneself are brought about in two categories: lifelong subtleties and unforgettable adventures. Perhaps what is to come is a product of the first, or no product at all. Yet it is the transformations of this very nature that define us perhaps even further than we’d think. It is not so much the milestones, but rather our existence at more neutral times, sans the existential crises and 2:00AM haircuts. Whereas perhaps a scar on your cheek from playing a bit too hard as a kid will be the first thing people see, your trademark, it is the same cheek that will, throughout your life, shift with age and change in ways undetectable until one day you realize it’s no longer as smooth as it once was.

What I’m trying to say is that holding the expectation that an experience will whip you in the opposite direction takes away from appreciating how it compliments the essence of your present existence. If anything, it distracts from the value the smaller things hold, the paces of progress that don’t reach running speed while you watch them. Growing up, I’d run around my grandmother’s garden day after day collecting flowers and fruits, and now I think back to those times and realize that mundanity shaped the idyllic portrait I hold of my childhood. Growing up speaking Spanish in my household was the norm, and now I think back to those times and realize the fluency I retain in my native language regardless of where I roam is due to this consistency. Growing up I experienced much of the world’s love and some of its heartbreaks, and it is because I went through the processes that millions of others go through that I am who I am in the most singular sense.  I believe that one day I will feel the same about what I saw, did, and felt here, whether or not it was in the office, the metro, or the dorms.

Perhaps it will be parting with the subtlety that raises the cover to reveal the magic underneath; yet whether or not it does, whether or not the magic manifests, and whether or not my eyes capture it, one day I will grow into my own magic to see this everyday from and learn to love this experience in a transformed light. In the meanwhile, I am content.