It’s a number that has recently appeared in my life, an omen or sign of sorts, reminding me of…something.
Two weeks until final exams begin. Year two of college drawing to a close. Only two out of six students in my group have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. My workout class, which once demanded that two treadmills separate me and a stranger, now demands that only one separates us. And there are two times a day in which I pinch my arm and remind myself that yes, April is ending, and somehow May is on the horizon.
I now realize that this number two, in whichever way it exhibited itself in my life, is a reminder of something so many of us intimately know: an ending.
My classes are ending. So is my sophomore year of college. So is (hopefully) the pandemic’s peak of chaos and isolation.
For some of you, graduation caps and gowns are on their way as your senior year comes to a close. For others, you swap your crinkled sweatshirt for a smooth blouse as your time working from the comfort of your couch ceases. Or maybe, the warmth that once enveloped you while hugging your partner has transformed into an empty void as you part ways. Perhaps you’re reminiscing and typing words onto a screen for what will be the final time for a few months.
Endings. They are an inescapable reality we all face… especially right now.
But endings don’t simply occur in a vacuum. They are moments in time that elicit legitimate, strong emotions. In fact, when I thought about all the endings that were heading my way in the coming weeks, I felt these legitimate, strong emotions.
I felt denial. Shock. Excitement. Terror. Confusion. Relief. Tension. Elation.
However, an issue emerged when I was feeling such emotions. This issue was that I initially rejected the wide array of emotions I was experiencing. Rather, I believed I had to feel certain emotions about the endings in my life: either excited or nervous or sad.
I thought it was almost shameful to feel more than that. I mean, endings are a normal part of life, right? They are part of our reality and I must be able to contend with that fact. For some time, I refused to let myself feel the feels…I refused to be multidimensional and trapped myself into a box where all was black and white, with no gray allowed.
I have a feeling I am not alone in this shame of feeling complex emotions towards experiences, moments, relationships, etc. ending. Society, social media and so much more often train us to feel like having contradictory, various emotions towards something that is inevitable is…weak. It’s wrong.
But that is not the case. Endings don’t just have to be lights at the end of the tunnel, nor do they have to signal impending doom. They can be moments in time that create complex feelings, reactions and thoughts.
They can be gray areas in which we don’t know what the heck we’re doing and feeling and saying. And that’s simply okay.
I’m allowed to feel the simultaneous excitement and fear and nerves that come with life going semi-back to normal as vaccines roll out. To grieve and smile and express gratitude as I realize I am already halfway done with college. To feel everything and nothing and all that is in between about the endings in my life.
And you are, too.
At the end of the day, things come to an end. But also, at the end of the day, we are human. We aren’t one-dimensional creatures who must only feel this, that and the other emotion about the big changes in our lives. We are meant to feel, especially when it comes to the innately scary and exciting and nerve-racking moments in our lives. The moments we call ‘endings.’
So yes, things are coming to an end for so many of us. You will be receiving your diploma soon. You will be finishing up your classes. Gyms will be going back to “normal.” Your relationship with your partner will cease to exist.
And when those endings occur, I hope you feel. I hope you embrace the gray area. I hope you cry about it and laugh about it and that your stomach hurts and that you breathe deeply. I hope you know that yes, endings are inevitable and are a beautiful, unique and legitimate unique part of life.
But so are your emotions about those endings.
So, feel them all. I know I will.
Photo Credit: Her Campus Media Library