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“The Long Road Home”
Another meaningful photo at this time in my life. It has been a long road to get where I am today. This post is a reflection on one year of that journey, 2011.
Despite living on my own for almost three years now and being alive for a total of twenty-four years, I feel like I’ve grown and learned more about myself in 2011 than I have ever before. Some of the changes I blogged about, others I did not. At the time, many of the changes felt weird and out-of-place, I have since realized they are only milestones in my life that are leading me down the road to becoming my own person.
I remembered life is fragile: I was floored when I learned that my Uncle Bobby had died. I was angry at myself for not spending more time with him, angry at him for dying, and angry at life for this cruel twist of fate. I knew that he was sick, he was on both the lung and liver transplant list, but for some reason I expected to have more time with him. It was difficult for me to realize that he was in pain and couldn’t do the things he loved anymore. It took me a long time to realize that it was selfish of me to want him to continue going through that for my benefit.
I remembered that it is okay to ask for help: I was depressed after Bobby died. I was angry for months and would cry every time something reminded me of Bobby. I was having a really difficult time working through Bobby’s death on my own. My college offers free counseling service to students and I realized I needed to ask for help. After talking to a counselor for a couple of months, I had worked through my depression and even some other issues I was having with other things.
I learned I am stronger than I thought: I had been sick for the past three years (thanks to a gluten intolerance). 2011 presented me with challenges that I had to face despite being sick. There was no curling up in bed for days on end while I let the illness take its course. I had to be proactive about my health and my life. Sometimes this meant that I had to say no to things that I wanted to do but couldn’t. Sometimes I had to apologize to people when I took on more than I could handle. I had to learn that sometimes I have to put me first even if it’s difficult.
I learned how to be happy: Being sick really changed the way I thought about the world. I went from being a totally pessimistic person to seeing the bright side of life, almost over night. I discovered that life really is better when I’m happier and it really doesn’t take all that much to think happy thoughts.
I learned that the world will go on without traditions: We didn’t decorate for Halloween this year. We didn’t go to all of our favorite holiday haunts over Christmas. We didn’t spend the entire day with my family on Christmas morning. We didn’t go to any New Year’s Eve parties. Guess what? The holidays still came and went. The world didn’t end. It felt really strange for me to leave some of those traditions behind. I went through a little depression as I felt like I was losing some distant part of me. It wasn’t until later that I realized I wasn’t losing any parts of my past but gaining new traditions with Jon for the future.
I learned that I can accomplish my dreams: This year I will be embarking on a new journey. In May I will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology and an Associate of Arts in Transfer Studies. In June, Jon and I will be moving to Minnesota so that I can attend the University of Minnesota. I have applied to the Pre-Vet program in hopes of attending their Veterinary School in a couple of years. It has been a difficult road in finding my passion and purpose. Here I am though, incredibly happy, fulfilled, and ready for the next phase of my journey.
As I said, 2011 was a big year. I can only hope that 2012 will bring even more exciting changes and life lessons for me.