Putting that "Good" in "Goodbye"

It seems like most people view “goodbye” as something they dread, a phrase that communicates some sort of sadness and finality. However, this year must have taken that image of “goodbye” and been like “wanna bet?” because when you are saying “goodbye” to a year like this one, it is only necessary to say it as loud and with as much joy and excitement as possible. Goodbye has really never felt so GOOD!

 

After a hundred something days and a whole lifetime of embarrassments, disappointments and some good moments later, my junior year of college is about to come to a close. THANK GOD. Saying goodbye to this year is really putting that “good” in goodbye, because if I could describe it using a title of a book, it would 100% be “A Series of Unfortunate Events." You know those days where you feel like you just can’t do anything right? Take that and multiply it by 100 and there’s my year. Yet, despite my desire to rant about all the “unfortunate” things that happened during the entirety of the last nine months, I just want to say that not everything about this year sucked. In fact, there were many great experiences, moments of joy and laughter, and learning opportunities that kept me motivated even when the situation was not ideal.  Yet, reflecting on what happened this year gives me the perfect opportunity to learn and grow from those experiences… and that’s what college is all about, right?

 

First let’s start at the beginning *sips tea*.

The beginning of this year should have been the perfect indication that, you know, this was not exactly going to be the easiest time in my life? Literally everything was a mess. My time-management, my hair, my life in general… I had just gotten back from my year abroad in France with high expectations of this year and what I wanted to accomplish- my first mistake. If I could give any advice regarding expectations, I would say that unless your ultimate goal in life is to reach a new level of disappointment, please do not set your hopes on high expectations. I definitely would not recommend.

Unsurprisingly, nothing really went as I expected *cue all the expectations vs. reality memes*. I thought I would return to California and resume all the friendships from freshman year where they left off, to have a more manageable distance in my long-distance relationship, and to just be happy, fulfilled and successful… Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!!

In reality, I came back to walking past some of the friends I had with just blank, RBF-looking stares. Wow guys, totally felt the love. On top of that, all my actual friends had naturally been living their best lives and hanging out with new people and doing new things. Sipping all the hot tea was fun, but was hard to keep up with at times. Everything just felt sort of unfamiliar. A general observation was that everyone- myself included- was just so much busier than they were freshman year. While I know that we were all just trying to make money and develop our professional skills (something most college students can relate to), I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel lonely at times. The post study abroad depression and reverse culture shock didn’t exactly help much with that feeling- nor did the fact that a lot of my friends would leave on the weekends. I also thought that since my boyfriend moved to the US for grad school, that it would be so much easier to visit each other and communicate than it was when we were in France and Morocco. Yeah well, being in the same country doesn’t totally make a difference when it takes a 2-hour car-ride, a 4-hour flight and a 2-hour train or bus to get to each other.  Needless to say, it was a tough adjustment for the both of us.

You see this smile? It was hiding how empty I felt on the inside. 

To make matters worse, I felt like there were no places for me to go where I could have the space I really longed for in order to sort out the actual mess that was my life... Living in a dorm with suitemates who spend their Friday nights smelling sauces in the refrigerator to match which one was left in their unclean pan is bad enough, but living with those type of people who NEVER leave the room is another story. What actually is this thing you call personal space? Don’t ask me. Living in a space bombarded by passive aggressive sticky notes, constant complaining, and where using someone’s fork and having the microwave beep in the morning is actually a big deal, was not exactly the positive space I needed. Thank God my roommate who actually shared the bedroom with me is one of the sweetest, most chill people out there… otherwise I might have lost it  (Thanks Chels, you’re the real one). There was no real way to go off campus for personal space either since I didn’t have a car. Most Cal Lutheran students could probably back me up when I say that if there was a list of the toughest minor first-world problems to deal with here, not having a car in Thousand Oaks would be at the very top of that list. As dramatic as it sounds, I was stuck- both physically and mentally. I felt left behind, alone, unsatisfied, uninformed, forgotten. GOODBYE TO THAT!

It’s not that I wished I was back in France or that I didn’t want to be in California. It just seemed that all the incredible life-changing experiences from abroad were fading away and becoming more distant, while I also felt farther than ever from home back in Seattle and from my friends and family both there and here. I wanted to grasp on to these memories and to never move on from them. I just wished life could pause for a hot second while I figured everything out, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that you just can’t do that. Then when I finally felt that the post-study abroad depression was getting much better, that’s when life brought a mass shooting and two wildfires- one right after the other to my college community. Great.  Now you can see why this year was “A Series of Unfortunate Events”?

While I could go on and on about all the unfortunate things that happened to me, my community, and the world in general, there really is no point in ranting incessantly about it. As someone who always tries to look on the positive side (as not made obvious from this article), I always like to see what I can learn from the (relatively) hard things that life puts me though. With time I began to realize that there was a deeper, underlying reason for everything I went through. The truth is I really did not know what I wanted for myself. I was uncertain about nearly everything in my life and that was the problem. This uncertainty was translating into insecurity, which brought my confidence to an all-time low. Aside from this year, it seems like a lot of the hard times we face can ultimately be traced back to uncertainty and insecurity. However, being insecure does not define who we are, it is how we decide to act and handle our insecurities that says more about our character.

I decided that I was tired of letting the troubles of this year affect me. No matter how I felt, I tried my best to have the most positive attitude I could have every day. I worked hard in my classes, and started trying new things. The less I focused on the hard times of this year, the happier and more confident I became (no shocker there!). I learned that I loved taking risks: whether they were small style risks such as buying a pair of bright red heels or potentially life-changing ones such as applying for different leadership positions and jobs...The thrill of being nervous but excited is what kept me motivated. I rediscovered the excitement of putting myself out of my comfort zone- a feeling that motivated me throughout my entire time in France. I also learned that I was the happiest, best version of myself when I was volunteering or doing kind things for others. I even changed my major to something I was much more passionate and excited about. In the scheme of things, I am honestly glad that I had to go through some of the hardest times this year because it was through them that I learned so much about myself and was able to rebuild my confidence.

All Photos Courtesy of the Author Designed on Canva