Dodging the Bullet: A Broken Ankle and Finding a Family
By Natalie Orga, Contributing Writer
It is high noon on Friday, August 18th. The temperature: 91 degrees. The humidity is oppressive, a film that clings to the skin. A girl lays sprawled on the burning sidewalk in front of the Gettysburg College Health Center, her back against the rough brick, one leg folded at an awkward angle. Sweat plasters her clothes to her body as she dials a number on her phone. No response. Her ankle is fractured. Her key card is locked inside her dorm room.
She’s supposed to be at band camp, but she’s hobbled her way over to the Health Center for the sole purpose of obtaining crutches. The girl taps the Health Center’s number into her phone once more and the recorded message plays again, but this time, there’s an addition: the Center is closed until 1 pm on this particular day. Now, she’s late to practice and can’t walk. She’s been in college for four days.
I think it’s a good time for a record scratch. Yeah, that’s me.
Four days into my college experience, and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. Even on a tiny campus, I managed to get myself hopelessly lost, locked my key in my dorm, and even managed to injure myself. That’s not to mention the million other smaller, rookie mistakes I made while trying to figure out how to handle living far from home and being on my own. At first, I refused help from almost everyone. This didn’t last long, however, as my injury made it impossible for me to be completely independent. But this, I came to realize, was a good thing.
Part of being a mature adult, I’ve been told, is knowing when to help others, and when to accept help. Helping others is easy for me. Accepting help? Not so much. During my time here, however, I’ve realized that I’ve gained my independence, (a beautiful thing!) but I’ve also entered a community. Nobody gets by completely alone. So, although I’m thrilled to become someone with more autonomy than before, I should also be equally thrilled to be a part of something bigger.
Although on Friday, August 18, I was struggling, it wasn’t long before someone helped me out of my situation. The next week, I was able to do the same for somebody else. I was asked how I was able to remain to optimistic, even as seemingly everything around me went wrong. But in my mind, there’s nothing to worry about. As I learn more and integrate myself into the world of Gettysburg, I can’t help but be optimistic about what’s to come, even when everything goes awry.
I’m beginning to realize that there is something more crucial than complete independence, and more exciting: a new family. And that’s something to look forward to.
Editor’s Note: This article is the seventh of our series “Dodging the Bullet: The First Year Journal,” in which The Gettysburgian‘s staff members from the Class of 2021 share stories, reflections, and perspective on their first year experience. You can read the full series here. (BP)