Speechless. The single word of remembrance that I can muster up through the aches in my being to detail this past year. Wow, I survived. With hope, I can finally say that 2017 is now in my rear view mirror, as I took the sharp turn into another ambitious and mysterious drive to who knows where. I have just outlasted the 365 day drive that took more out of me than all past years combined. If you know anything about my memories of the past, this is truly significant. The consensus of my youth that I reveal only to those closest to my heart, tells of extreme damage and endurance. I'm frequently told that I have survived more in my last nineteen years of life than most. Together, these experiences have breed someone so persistence to cure other's damage that she forgets about her own. Although, 2017 brought to life great erosion to the remaining aspects of my heart and soul that were untouched by former hurt. In 2017, I met my match of world wind as my strength fought to outlast the crippling effects of its destruction. This trip was not what I would call a vacation, but by every means a breathtaking tour around every state of mind. In all senses, it took every beat of my heart and every capacity of stitching myself back together to continue through the journey.
Pleasantly, the transition of 2016-2017 began smoothly. The dedication that I placed into my school work substituted the fact that I did not feel as I belonged at my college of choice. I received great pride from my academics and the results of making the Dean's list twice which followed. However, the void of connection and expectations that you find your "real friends" in college created a sense of loneliness that not even Biology or Chemistry could fill. My atmosphere was persistently clouded by on-and-off relationships and mummers through those purple resident halls that my values made my weak. In fact, I can recall several occasions when a self-proclaimed "friend" would attempt to force men into my room with the hopes that they would take what she considered as theirs. Thankfully for my true friendships that I shared with the men a floor below mine, they stopped these disgusting efforts. Along with their support, they gave me the hope so desperately needed that I would find true friendships like the ones my best friend from back home promised were to come.
Progressing further into the year, I took the leap into my first official relationship. Of course, I've been on several dates and had developed mutual feelings for others in the past. However, previous heartbreak, especially from those who are never meant to diminish you as a person, had left me always rejecting the thought of a relationship and others who wanted more from me. Already, I held too high of expectations for myself. I did not need the additional ones from a significant other. Although with the charm of the blonde-haired and blue-eyed boy, I gave him a chance. Within two weeks, he had asked my out and given another three he confessed that he was in love with me. Suddenly, my world became chaos when those words slipped from his mouth. We were too young and I was not ready. I was never taught the meaning behind those words. To me, it was always forced language. In fact, a part of me had always known that he was not prepared for it either. The relationship was built on false hope and expectations. He had stated what he thought he had felt, but he had not understood who he was yet. We were both broken to some degree. Except, I was single-handedly the only one of us who comprehended this and wanted to seek help. We were a different sense of lost, but I found an aspect of myself through starting over.
That summer, I dedicated those three months to progression. The only way I knew how to do this was to accept the writing position I had been offered through the Odyssey. With honesty, I could reflect upon the thoughts I had long buried and written off. No one could invalidate how the events of my life had impacted me like they long had been. My pieces were raw and vulnerable. My audience suddenly became my friends and I received such inspiring messages from others who transformed my words into feelings. My work had achieved their purpose of making my readers feel something. Slowly, I was making an impact - one that stretched far beyond my readers and myself.
Due to the confusion and disorder that my first year of college brought forth and the revelations that I discovered through my writing, I made the bold and wise decisions of applying to be an resident assistant. To this day, it is one of my best decisions. These young, intelligent, and strong woman have taught me more than I ever dreamed in just four short months. Often, I see a mirror image of myself from last year in their eyes. I witness the courage that they manifest to pursue their dreams and the strength they hold to pick themselves up after each time they fall. All thirty of them are warriors. Together, we embrace the challenges that we are presented with and my goodness they conquer them with such grace. As much as I am their authority figure, they call me their big sister and friend. It's a title that I would not trade for the world. Within all the doubt that I faced this semester with my health sciences major, they reminded me to continue through the madness. We uplifted each other and formed our own little family away from home.
Among all the hurt, I added another uplifting member into my family at college. All due to a strenuous Chemistry exam, we bonded over the misunderstood demands of being premedical studies majors, the future of medicine, and of course Grey's Anatomy. Instantaneous, she became the Christina Yang to my Meredith Grey. It was not my invisible Derek Shepherd who saved me from the days that I felt like I was drowning, but her. With her carefree and adventurous soul, she fulfilled the promise that my best friend from home made to me - that I would find my person who did not make friendship seem like a chore. Instead, on days where the world feels unbearable, a letter of encouragement will magically arrive under my door or in the counsel of my vehicle. Indeed, following every nearly impossible Organic Chemistry test, I could rely on an hour drive which consisted of singing (screaming) to every Miley Cyrus song imaginable. It was moments like these that reminded me why I was giving up so much for my ambitions and an important reason of why I made it through the year.
Before rounding out the year and progressing into 2018, I had to undergo some of the greatest wear on my heart. Despite all the time, blood, sweat, and tears that I invested into my academics, my sacrifices would not be enough. With my future and admittance into Medical School depending upon my success, I took my failed effort to heart. I continually questioned myself and whether I was good enough to pursue medicine. Maybe this was God's way of telling me to reassess my ambitions. After all, aren't doctors supposed to be intelligent? Based off of my GPA, it was clear that I was not. It took a lot of inner thought to believe in my capabilities and remember the instances in my life that disclosed to me that medicine is where I am met to be. Honestly, this is something that I am still trying to remind myself.
Furthermore, while sitting in solidarity after finishing up my last final of the semester, tears flooded my face. No matter what I tried, I could not fight the feeling that I had not dedicated enough of myself to success - even while I knew deep down that I gave this semester everything I had in me. In which case, I called the only person who I thought could calm the storm raging in my head, my mother. However, the call instead brought insecurity as I was notified that she had lost her job and that there was a strong chance that my little sister had cancer invading her fifteen year old body. The year had already been filled with so many challenges with her health and me acting as a parent to help heal her. The future was unknown. There was nothing that I could do in that small town of Iowa other than to clean myself up and act like everything was okay in the case that someone needed me. A few more days, that's as long as I needed to be okay before I could drive home to figure things out.
Nonetheless, 2017 finalized with more questions than answers. It made me fight harder and longer than I previously have needed to just to be okay. I realized that some days you have to settle for just getting up and breathing. That the human body is a fragile and complex state. Without dedicating time for yourself, burnout is a strong possibility. In addition, surviving tough times is a team effort. I am not alone in my troubles. In fact, I have met and strengthened my bond with so many individuals this past year who have taught me that home can be a place, but more commonly it's found in people - the ones held closest to your heart.
Oh 2018, please be gentle on my heart and those of my loved ones. This is the year where I will simplify my life and focus on self-growth. The opportunities will be endless and I will be stronger than ever! I will lead with my people be my side and with an open heart to what God lays before me.