Remaining relentlessly positive in a world of relative sublime happenings is incredibly attainable, I have found. But staying positive in the face of crushing adversity?
Well, that’s a whole different story.
One year ago, I was basking in the cloudy-filled glory of the Golden Gate Bridge — a smile practically always positioned between my cheeks at the euphoria I found in San Francisco. (Let’s just say this Midwest girl is a long-lost West Coaster at heart.)
I had found myself on the other side of the country, after traveling to the other side of the world a month before. I peaked too early, I told everyone at home in Ohio; I had found my happy place at the ripe young age of 20. I was finally content with where and who and what I was in life. I was becoming who I was meant to be.
But then the waves got rough.
It was as if I had sailed gaily into the eye of a storm without ever realizing I had left the shore.
I lived in a terrifying fear, for shadow-cloaked months that never seemed to end, that I might lose my very best friend. I ended up losing one of my closest links to surety and sanity in the days leading up to my summertime internship departure, less than a month ago now. It still doesn’t feel real.
I walked — no, limped — around for many more months in an unbalanced, muddled, and discouraged aura of both body and mind. Sitting here now, with another urgent care-earned bandage wrapped tightly around my right knee, I’m beginning to think the saga of my never-ending brokenness is just beginning.
So, where do I go from here?
Last year seemed the year of promising beginnings, but this year seems to me like the year of uncompromising, middle-of-the-road frustration.
On top of placing misguided trust in the life I thought I’d been gifted (if it seems a little too good to be true, change is coming), I close the chapter of my college experience in less than 10 months — and I haven’t yet a clue where I’ll be headed next.
I feel like I scored a blurred-out plane ticket to the next phase of my life, and I haven’t yet figured out how to read the inked-away lines of my destination.
In one year, exactly everything and nothing has changed.
I’m still too busy picking up the pieces from yesterday’s heartache to face forwards and look excitedly into the future — my future, the one I’ve been day-dreamily eyeing since the throws of high school.
Now that it’s upon me, I don’t know how to face it.
Was I in love with who I was because of where I was? Or was there something more that I lost along the way? Was I so naive to believe that the happiness I found in the Bay would follow me, like a lighthouse, wherever I stay while I’m away?
I’m caught in the tangles of a web of my own making, and yet I’m surrounded by helping hands — some new and cherished, others unexpectedly resurrected. In these chaotic, blue-toned days, I have learned some more lessons about myself — challenging lessons, yes, but necessary, anchoring lessons to carry with me on my way to the departure deck:
- I’ve come to appreciate the miraculous, unexplainable bonds of friendship from years past. Sometimes the people who stay in your corner aren’t the ones you thought would stay. Celebrate, cherish, and value the people who do stay; don’t pine for those who exit early.
- The career goals I wish to attain — connecting humans to the natural world, prioritizing creative, interdisciplinary solutions, and operating outside in an anti-corporate office space — have scarcely changed in these months of self-doubt and syllabus-slaving. Grounding myself in writing out my goals leaves me feeling somewhat assured; on paper, I haven’t changed all that much.
- Letting go of yesterday’s misfortunes — while ignoring the prospects of tomorrow — is the recipe for opportunities in the now. The present moment is all we’ve got.
For those who have remained in my life, seeing me through rough seas and steady waters, I am grateful.
For all of the wonderful memories I will make in the months to come, I will anticipate only with eagerness and let go of any hesitations and reservations.
For who I am today — not tomorrow, not yesterday, but right now — I celebrate.
Because my other choice? What other choice?