I have always had a ten-year plan when I was in high school. I would spend four years at college, make friends, graduate, start a fantastic job as a fashion designer and get married a few years later. Not a single thing from that plan has come true or mattered in a few years because I learned to stop living with that plan when I realized how little life cares about our stupid “perfectly” set timeline. So, this is the shortened story of how that plan crashed and burned, and I couldn’t be happier that it did.
I’m a senior in college this year, it’s also my only full year here at Kent State because of COVID and life in general. When I was a freshman, I packed up my life (a very small, dorm-sized amount of it) and moved across the country to go to school at KSU and follow my dreams of being a fashion designer. I laugh at the girl I was then, but I am also so proud of her. The first semester of college was a nightmare for me. I was in a place VERY different from where I grew up and not around any family or friends- I was starting at the bottom. To my surprise, there was even further to fall! How unfortunate for past me. I genuinely felt like I wanted to run away or sleep through the following year.
A few weeks into the rapid decline of my mental and physical health, my parents said I could just drop out and come back later when I felt ready. I was adamant I could make it through at least a semester, and I did, an impressive feat, all things considered. I switched my major to fashion merchandising instead of design, packed up my things and moved back home. I got a full-time job I loved and focused on getting better. Once COVID hit, things were even more out of wack, but I made it through, took some online classes and told myself I would return to school for my sophomore year. That was another thing that didn’t happen. While this is partly due to COVID, it was also because I loved my job and didn’t think I was ready to jump back into school so far away. So the online classes continued. I spent hours in my room at my parent’s house doing homework, working on projects and going to work simultaneously. It was a rough year. However, before the spring semester of my sophomore year, I moved out. I had a roommate I loved and we had so much fun. Neither of us had lived in an apartment before and barely ever lived away from our parents. Figuring out how to do life during that time was a blast, but life happens, and my roommate moved out a few months into our lease. It was heartbreaking at the time, but I’m so glad for everything it taught me.
When this happened, I decided to stay in the apartment and live alone. I was determined to prove to everyone else, mostly myself, that I could do this. It was a test run for studying abroad the next semester but also a time for me to really understand and take care of myself and it was the best eight months. I learned to love my solitude, the people there for me and who cared about me learned and that I could survive alone without the suffocating fear of loneliness or self-doubt. Don’t get me wrong, those were still there, but I accepted them and found healthier ways to cope with the things my brain decided to freak out about.
Once the second semester of my junior year rolled around, I was packing my things up (this time a slightly more significant amount) and moving to Italy for four and a half months. That’s a story or 100 for another time, though. However, it did show me that if I could move across the world and live alone before that, I would be okay. My mental health was doing excellent, I was eating lots of pasta and surrounded by people I loved and enjoyed spending time with. Upon returning home, I worked through the summer, had an internship that taught me a lot and was excited to move back to school a long two and a half years later.
So here we are, or rather, here I am. Back at school, a senior in college, surrounded by great friends, I love what I study and am happily writing to you from my fantastic apartment where I live alone, entirely because it makes me happy and I finally enjoy my own company. Recently though, I’ve realized just how out of line my life is from the ten-year plan I had only a few years ago. It is as jarring as it is exciting that I have no idea where my story is headed. And don’t get me wrong, I have dealt with heartbreak like no other from a wide range of people in the last few years. But that heartbreak isn’t in this story because it would be infinite and very complicated to write about, just like any relationship can be. It’s also almost impossible to write about something you don’t know if you’ve healed from just yet.
This shortened story of the last three years is to say this: you do not have to know where you are going or even where you are. I mean, please know where you literally are; that’s important but not the point. Life has a funny way of messing with our stories, and while it seems scary not to know what’s going on, coming from someone with severe anxiety and a need for control, you will be okay. Trust that not knowing is going to end up far better than trying to know and control the outcome. We are always far more capable than we expect, and life is about learning, even when the lessons are hard. If you are struggling with where you are, I understand what it’s like. I also know that you will one day look back and thank the universe for getting involved like it did.
Now, I want to stay awake (most of the time and sometimes only figuratively) for my life. I want to keep showing up for myself and picking myself up when things are bad. I am so proud of the girl that survived the complex parts and knows that I can and will survive them again as they come along. I know that it will be okay, you will be okay. I believe in you, XO.