Holy shit how is it 2015………………
It’s pretty unbelievable how quickly this year has passed. This time last year, I was halfway into my winter break, slowly preparing myself for a return to my last semester of college. I was getting over people, falling for new ones, giving every friendship everything I had for what was to be the last time for many, and attempting to numb the fear and anxiety that no amount of alcohol could subdue. I remember one Wednesday night in particular, a senior bar night, when a couple of my friends stepped outside and it was snowing. Any other snowy night, I would have thrown my hood up and braved the cold. But it was April, and at this point, having fallen into a very deep abyss over the course of the semester, I just straight up screamed. For all I know, this coming winter could be just as brutal, but I think it’ll be a different set of obstacles to overcome.
After graduating college, I had never felt more lost in my life. Nobody can really describe to you how hard that last semester is, how unready you are going to feel for what comes next. You’ve created an incredibly close knit network of friends and a comfort zone that is as plush as the softest couch, and then you’re passive-aggressively shoved out into the real world, facing the literal cold. People warn you that school is the safest, most secure time of your life, that it’s all downhill from there. But I can assure you, to those of you still there, as somebody who loved and thrived in college, life after is actually quite wonderful. Different, but wonderful. That is certainly not to say that there aren’t things I miss more than words can possibly describe.
While I wish it were only sometimes, I very, very often find myself subjecting myself to this particular ache. It’s sort of like that internal drop you feel when you go down a rollercoaster but a little different – it’s similarly unpleasant but tugs not only at your stomach, but your heart too. But I subject myself to it willingly, sometimes by listening to a particular song (anybody who knows me well knows what song), or by scrolling through old photos, saving special ones onto my desktop or my phone album. I never feel more helpless than when I remind myself that no matter what living creature I sacrifice, I cannot go back to those days, sitting in the dining hall at 4:30 when it was still light out, watching people trickle in at more normal hours. I can’t go back to that night and be a little bit more or a little bit less forward. Just thinking about it induces that ache.
My friend just shared this analogy: reliving and reconstructing the past is like when you first lose a tooth – when you have nothing to think about, it’s so tempting to just poke at that gap, just to fill that emptiness. But eventually, a new, more mature tooth starts to grow in, and you hope that gap gets filled. Unfortunately, that gap is a little bit wider when it’s in your head. So while I can happily say I’m a comfortable and considerable distance away from some aspects of the past, others have yet to be reconciled.
Letting things go is something I struggle with more than anything else. I’ve always felt the need for closure, but life, unfortunately is not a movie with clear-cut endings. Some story lines are left ambiguous, and in many cases, nobody has the last word. Not everybody is willing to explain every action they make and I need to accept that. To let go is to make thoughts physical and let them dissolve…
People are so unpredictable. I make the same choice, over and over again, of telling my close friends and family that “oh my goodness, so and so is such an amazing person, we are going to be best friends forever,” or “they would never let me down,” and time and time again, I get let down. But as one of my wise friends taught me, when things go awry with somebody, it’s not their fault, it’s my fault. It’s all a matter of managing my expectations. Think about it – whenever we get upset at somebody, it’s because we expected the other person to be better, to be more reliable, to be more responsive, to be less flakey, to be a better listener. Whatever it may be, your emotions regarding the person are dictated by what you expected of them, which is completely within your control. People don’t let you down, expectations do.
With that said, I’ve come to really appreciate the people who exceed expectations. In college, I didn’t see flakiness as much of an issue at all. If somebody changed plans or couldn’t make it last minute, it wasn’t a big deal because we would probably see each other an hour later in the dining hall or passing each other along one of the many snowy paths to a library or a dorm. The consequences of a flakey friend were far less dire. But living in a big city with different schedules, I’ve come to really value people who stick to their word. While it may sound a tad bit dramatic, giving your word is a sort of a promise. Plans absolutely change, things come up, work gets in the way. But then you give notice ahead of time or explain honestly the situation. But talking big is so easy. It’s a simple mélange of muscles moving and sound and a bit of eye contact. I’ve come to appreciate people who follow through. Actions speak volumes volumes VOLUMES louder than words.
Friendships are contextual. Time and space can define memories and relationships. Within a given time and space, a relationship may flourish because of shared experiences and the absence of certain realities, whether these realities are more practical, such as financial or matters of convenience, or less tangible, such as emotional needs. One of the hardest things I’ve learned is that some friends fall in and out of context. At any given point, particularly in transition periods, friends fall away, sometimes naturally and gradually, sometimes quite abruptly. If you’re in different places, it can become hard to bridge that gap.
Life doesn’t go as planned whatsoever. It can easily fall out of your control at any moment, but you can’t lose sight of what you need, what you want, and what you love. I certainly lost sight of all of those at some point this year, and I’m working hard to redefine what that means for me because I think those three things keep you sane and keep you grounded. I’m absolutely guilty of letting other people define my happiness, but the time is now to change that!!!! It’s 2015!!!!
Basically, do what you want and don’t waste your time doing things or spending time with people you don’t like. See who you want to see, keep your expectations at bay and if things go awry, let go. Live life passionately with lots of love!!
Cheers and a super high-five if you read this whole thing ❤