The Thing About Loss

The Thing About Loss

It's not easy.

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Death is inevitable. We've all heard it, we all know it; it just is. It's one of the many facets of life that people like to avoid talking about until it's staring you straight in the face. Sometimes the knowledge of its existence comes to you when you're seven and your first goldfish dies or you squash an ant with your finger. Other times it may be through losing someone close to you; a mother, a father, a close friend.

I don't really remember when I first learned what death was. My experience with death was indirect up until now; a friend's grandmother and a teacher's spouse had passed away when I was in high school. There was always a middle man separating me from true grief. But I can remember when death first affected me personally.

It was just this week when I received a call that one of my old friends whom I had acted in musicals with for years, Ceara, had died suddenly of an undiagnosed medical condition. If you were never in drama club as a kid, then you won't know how easy it is to get close to a person when you're stuck in a musty theater for hours on end singing show tunes. This passionate, bright girl who was so full of life had introduced me to one of my favorite musicals, Hamilton, and had been there through some of the best memories of my high school experience; needless to say, I was devastated and heartbroken.

While sadness and grief lingered with me, so did confusion and anger. I constantly was asking why. Why her? Why now? How is it that, in the same day, I had both spoken to her and learned about her passing? How could this girl, so ready and so eager to tackle the world, have it all taken away when it was right in her grasp, without her even knowing it was coming?

Among all the Hamilton lyrics theater kids belt out during spontaneous bursts of song, there is one that always has stuck out to me:

"You could have done so much more if you only had time."

There's this ache that I feel when I think of all Ceara could have accomplished if she had more time. But that's the thing with death, isn't it? It leaves dreams unrealized, words unsaid. It doesn't leave us with an explanation; it leaves us with an unfinished sentence. I would have loved to see Ceara succeed and follow her dreams like she always said she would, without fail. But I can't focus on the ifs. I can't focus on trying to find an explanation.

What I can focus on is what she did do with the short time she had on this earth.

She took every opportunity she had and ran with it. She brushed past haters and doubters. She auditioned for every musical she could find, and when she wasn't cast in it, she'd find another one. She had this burning passion for life from the moment I met her.

Most importantly, she lived every day to the fullest. She didn't focus on where her sentence would end; she focused on how she would write it.

Death is a part of life. But it's how we live our lives-how we cherish each day, how we seize every moment-that makes death less about mourning the life that has ended and more about celebrating the life that existed.

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To The Girl Who Isn't Graduating On Time, It Won't Feel Any Less Amazing When You Do

Graduating is something to be proud of no matter how long it takes you.

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To the girl who isn't graduating college "on time,"

I promise, you will get there eventually, and you will walk across that graduation stage with the biggest smile on your face.

You may have a different journey than the people you grew up with, and that is OKAY. You may have some twists and turns along the way, a few too many major changes, a life change, you may have taken most of a semester off to try to figure your life out, and you're doing the best you can.

Your family and your friends don't think less of you or your accomplishments, they are proud of your determination to get your degree.

They are proud of the woman you are becoming. They don't think of you as a failure or as someone any less awesome than you are. You're getting your degree, you're making moves towards your dreams and the life that you have always wanted, so please stop beating yourself up while you see people graduating college on time and getting a job or buying a car.

Your time will come, you just keep doing what you need to do in order to get on that graduation stage.

Your path is set out for you, and you will get there with time but also with patience. The place you're at right now is where you are supposed to be. You are going to thrive and you are going to be the best version of you when you graduate and start looking for a company that you will be proud to work for. Don't look on social media and feel less than, because at least you're still working towards your degree that you are finally passionate about. You will be prepared. You will be ready once the time comes and you cross the stage, move away, and start your journey in whatever field you're going into.

Don't question yourself, and be confident in your abilities.

With love,

A girl who isn't graduating on time

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.

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If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become.

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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