It is bittersweet as my time here at Catholic University is quickly coming to a close. It feels like just yesterday I was waiting to find out if I was accepted, and then wishing the day to move would come faster. This place has become my home in just a short eight months time. A place that I thought I would hate has become a place that I love.
I have always struggled with “belonging.” I lived in the same house for twenty years of my life. Most of my friends had been friends since birth. I had my church home(s) and old family friends that were like my second family (and third and fourth). While everything seemed to fit so perfectly and was so easily handed to me, it never felt right.
When I was in high school I dreamt of leaving West Virginia. I wanted nothing more than to get away. I wanted to get as far away as possible and never look back. I never thought about what I would be leaving behind. I was unhappy and just wanted to get out.
Looking back, my circumstances made me angry and bitter. My circumstances were created by me. A friend once told me that you have to be happy with where you are in order to leave. At first, I scoffed and rolled my eyes at the idea. Over time, I have realized that to be true. Had I left West Virginia when I wanted to, I would have been just as unhappy. My misery was a product of myself, not my surroundings. Granted, my surroundings did not always help, but my misery would have followed me wherever I went.
When moving to DC was just an arms length away, I was ready to go. I wasn’t just looking to run away, but finally looking to continue to grow and develop as a person. DC has done just that for me. I have changed so much since moving here. It has not been without its trials. In eight months I have experienced immense hurt, new friendships, loneliness, a sense of belonging, feelings of being lost, and refreshed.
I feel fortunate to have been able to have this experience while still living relatively close to “home.” My life here is completely separate from my life there, but the two are close enough that I was not thrust into unfamiliar territory without support being an arms length away. When things got tough, I was able to make a weekend trip home to spend time with my mom. When I wanted to deny what was going on and pretend like all was alright, I just kept it to myself. It has been freeing to realize that people now only know what I want them to.
When I first moved here, I wanted to start over and leave my old life behind. I left pieces behind and began to pick up new pieces here. Then, somewhere along the way I began to try to mesh my two worlds. I tried so hard to get both lives to meet that I got frustrated when it didn’t work. I felt stuck in the middle where I felt as if I didn’t belong in either places.
How often do we try to force things to work when it is time to just let it go? While stepping back and really trying to figure out who I am, I have realized that I become attached to things far too easily and have an incredibly difficult time letting go when the time comes. Ecclesiastes 3 has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible because it focuses on the idea that there is a time for everything. It makes clear that not everything is meant to last forever and many things in life have to come to an end. I struggle with the concept so much. I hate letting go. I hate change. Specifically, I hate change when it is out of my control. When I am in command, change is great. I love a change of scenery. As soon as control is out of my grasp, I freeze. This year I had to let go of something that was so unexpected and completely out of my control. I was blindsided by the end of a time and the stubborn person I am refused to see it. In fact, I am still unable to say that I have let go completely, it is a work in progress.
I have never been a cryer. I cry four maybe five times a year. To me, crying has always been something that is private. I could probably count the number of times I have cried in front of people in the last ten years on two hands. Even though I have always cried alone, there is something so different about crying alone in your room when you know your parents are just down the hall than crying in your room alone knowing you are completely alone. It is a growing experience. When your heart aches so much that it brings you to tears for the first time in four months, you learn to stand up on your own and get it together. It allows a new sense of confidence to grow. It is in that moment that you realize you can do this whole being-an-independent-thing.
This year, I have faced many of my demons. Some by choice, some because I had absolutely no choice. It gives a whole new perspective when you are able to step away and look back at your life when you are no longer enmeshed in it. It is freeing to now be in a place where my past no longer defines me. Finally being able to put the past in the past is something that I have been working towards for a few years. It still isn’t quite in my grasp yet, but I am closer than I have ever been.
Now, as my life in DC is about to be put on pause for a few months, new fears have begun to develop. I love my life here. It scares me to think about leaving it for three months. There is a part of me that knows that when I come back in August, everything will have changed. It will be impossible for it not to. Even though I know that there is a time for everything and change can be oh so good, it scares me to think about. It scares me to think about the fact that I finally feel like I have found a place where I belong. I place that I love and genuinely enjoy every aspect of my life. When I left West Virginia, I was ready and excited. I just do not want to go back. My reasons for going back for three months are exciting. I know that my time will be cherished and well spent, but the part of me that does not let go very easily is holding onto my life now as tightly as it can. I am so excited to spend my summer with my niece and getting to spend more time with my family, but that does not mean it will not be difficult.
Not only do I have a hard time with letting go, I am a runner. I become restless and the desire to run sets in. Going back to West Virginia goes against all of that. I finally let go of West Virginia and now I am going back. I ran away and now I am going back. I know now that I will not take any of the three months for granted because I am almost positive that come August, I will never call West Virginia ‘home’ again. I don’t know if DC will become my ‘home’ longterm, but I feel as if God is preparing me for change.
2016 has been a year of change thus far and there’s no stopping now.
“There are moments when you fall to the ground, but you are stronger then you feel now. You don’t always have to speak so loud. Just be as you are.” ~Mike Posner~
“Gods greatest work may be hidden behind your greatest vulnerability.” ~Heather~
“Keep an open mind. Don’t get bogged down in your own limited ideas and opinions, but be prepared to change or expand them.” ~Pope Francis~