I can’t give you any direction in this post. I can’t tell you how to spend the best 48 hours in NYC, though surely I have ideas. As much as I want to tell you about the wonders of the world in every single post, the journey isn’t always picturesque or dreamy. Sometimes the journey is exhilerating and wild and free. Sometimes the journey is hazy, a blur of weeks, a daze. It’s uncertainty.
When I graduated from college just over three years ago, I was wide-eyed and awestruck with the world. I spent 2.5 weeks celebrating in Europe where I drank champagne in the parks of Amsterdam and danced in plazas overlooking Florence. I cried on the streets of Belgium and chased my friends off trains. There was anxiety, sure. I had a lot of student loans that weighed heavily on me. But, I had so many plans. There was so much hope. I was so ready for the future.
One of the things I really wanted to do after college was teach abroad. I had put myself in a situation where I was paying off my loans quickly, I was gaining experience in my field. A little bit of planning, a little bit of dedication and and lot of hard work, I was going to do it. There was so much of this world out there, waiting for me to explore it. I felt such a strong pull to do it.
I was right – there was so much of this world that I hadn’t seen. And it was the stuff I never thought I would see, I never wanted to see. I sent all of the information of what I was planning to my parents in the Spring of last year. Slowly introducing them to the idea.
And then my brother died.
I had to stay. It wasn’t just that I had to stay for my family, but I had to stay for me, too. Suddenly the future I imagined began fading away. I fell into “the void”, where nothing mattered because everything was wrong and upside down, but the world kept moving. A vortex sucking me inside.
For a long time, “the void” just got darker. The world showed me more of it’s ugliness and I couldn’t stand to see anything else. Suddenly, my life wasn’t planning what I would do a few years or months from now. It was “what can I accomplish next?” It was “what can I control right now?” That’s a huge change from “In 6 months I’m going to be teaching in Asia.” I didn’t know how to deal with that change.
I never thought that I would be turning 26 in Greenville. I never thought that I would stay in South Carolina more than two years after college. But here I am.
Over a year later, I’m still asking “what can I accomplish next?” I am fully committed to letting myself heal. I am committed to giving myself the stability that I need to heal. That means I don’t have any plans to spend a year in Asia or 3 months in South America. And that’s okay. It’s taken me almost a year to accept that it’s okay to slow down and focus on me – the me that I am now.
So where do I go from here? I don’t know. Greenville is my home. It’s where I grieved for my brother and my cousin, and for the person I was before. It’s where I found strength to move forward. And it’s where I began to think of the future instead of dreading it. It’s where I planned my first trip to Asia (see you next month!!). It’s not six months or a year, but it’s something.
I can’t tell you where I go from here. I can tell you that this next year will be filled with decisions that make me happy and healthy and whole and for now, that’s enough.