"Are you scared?" My supervisor asked as we chatted about my study abroad plans.
"A little," I admitted, "It's going to be a big trip."
"Yeah, I keep thinking with everything happening in the news: 'it's gotta be safe--Lily's going over there!'"
I quickly realized that "scared" meant different things for both of us. My scared was anticipation and anxiety of adjusting to an entirely different lifestyle. Her scared was fear for my life.
With headline after headline of attacks in Europe--from Nice to Munich to a fortunately foiled one in Brussels--it is absolutely scary to think that anything could happen at anytime, anywhere. For me, it's especially scary to be headed to a major French city when terrorists have already targeted two of France's best-known destinations.
There's a fine line, however, between living cautiously and living so cautiously that you fail to live. Regardless of where I am, I'll do my best to be safe, and the rest is really out of my control. Regardless of whichever type of fear, I'll still strive to live fully. And regardless of what happens, I want this mindset to persist.
Most of all, I want so badly for us to recognize each other as fellow humans. Maybe then, neither type of fear would have to exist.
* * *
As the sun begins to set on summer, I've realized how much gloom and doom I've been spewing about my impending year abroad. The first 1.5 months of break was one of the most emotional and melancholy times in my life: I didn't want to bid my upperclassmen friends an indefinite goodbye, I didn't want to let go of my then-boyfriend, I didn't want to leave the school where I had found home. Furthermore, I was unnerved by the constraints of home life and its lack of social accessibility.
A few weeks ago, something changed, and I wish I could tell you what that was. Maybe it was reconnecting with my old high school friends, realizing that we could lead totally separate lives for a spell, but still find resonance, as if we had never left. Maybe it was being visited by and visiting a college classmate, realizing that indefinite goodbyes don't have to mean farewell forever. Maybe it was letting go of the relationships that no longer brought joy to my life, realizing that souls and circumstances change, but that little could tarnish the warmth that we did share. Maybe it was realizing that people are flighty, but God is always there. Maybe it was realizing that home is not a place but a time and space, one that I cultivate wherever I go.
With less than one month to go, yes, I feel scared--it's terrifying how a single decision can drastically shape your life. When my family found itself touring Carnegie Mellon University for my brother this weekend, I remembered how difficult it was to choose a college, and then how tough it was to move on from the life I knew.
Here I am again at another crossroads. But this time, I'm better-equipped with strength and insight. Ahead, my life will be drastically different, and that's okay. I finally feel at peace.
As a liberal arts student/endurance athlete/violinist/fashion enthusiast, I find beauty in many spheres. Consequently, I have no idea where life will lead me. Here is where I document my journey to creating myself--soul-baring reflections, embarrassing photos, and all. Feel free to join me for the ride.