Hello, friends! It’s been a while.
When I started up this blog, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use it for. I’m still not exactly sure, but as the year comes to a close, I’ve been feeling the itch to articulate my feelings about it all, and this felt like the right place to do so.
I’m not going to beat around the bush–2018 was hard. Really hard.
Most of it feels like a blur now, all the days meshing into one foggy dream. But there’s one thing I know for sure: I struggled. A lot. I also did a lot of growing, and I’m still growing, so I can’t say what the end results are just yet.
There were a lot of firsts, of varying degrees. First date (yes, even though I write romance books, it took me twenty-one years to do this). First time going to college. First time living on my own, in an entirely new place. First Christmas spent away from home.
Many good things happened this year, too. After years of feeling lost, and unable to decide which direction to take my life next, I got accepted into a graphic design program in Vancouver. It wasn’t the solution to all of my problems (in fact, it brought on a whole new set of problems), but it provided an escape; a way out of my tiny hometown, a chance to live in a city I’d fallen in love with years ago, an excuse to leave my mundane job behind, an answer to finally give the people who asked me about my future.
At the very end of June, my brother got married to the most lovely girl, and the next morning, I embarked on a week-long road trip with some friends that I initially met on Wattpad, though our friendship has since grown so much bigger than being online friends, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Then, in the last few days of September, I packed up a portion of my belongings into the car, and drove sixteen hours with my parents to embark on my next adventure, one that I had grown quite reluctant to begin. The months leading up to this point had been filled with indecision, and second-guessing, and house-hunting, and painful goodbyes, and longing for simpler times when life was easier.
I remember feeling vaguely like my parents were shipping me off to summer camp as we all unpacked my things, and I felt sick to my stomach as I saved the new address in my phone, labeling it home, even though it felt far from it.
Unfortunately, feeling sick to my stomach was the new normal. Starting school didn’t make things any better; the moment I stepped into the classroom on the first day, my self-esteem did a major nosedive, and I felt a distinct separation between me, and everyone else. In my eyes, they were all smarter, more creative, more attractive, more confident, and I wasn’t meant to be there. I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t fooling anybody. It took a week (and then some) for me to be able to go to class without feeling the intense need to vomit. Most of the time, I was too anxious to eat, and the hour break between my classes always left me feeling lost and miserable.
My life was suddenly completely new. I went from working a boring job and repeating the same cycle every day, to navigating public transit in a city that still feels huge to me, interacting with a diverse group of people, giving presentations (I’m still peeved that someone so averse to public speaking ended up in a program where it’s required in every class), creating things on the daily, and being pushed and pushed and pushed out of my comfort zone, over and over again.
I stopped taking proper care of myself. It’s hard when there’s no one to hold you accountable. I started skipping meals, and staying up till 4 a.m. to finish assignments. I was tired, and hungry, and sad, and anxious the majority of the time. One of my instructors made me cry, and I felt worthless for days afterward. I considered dropping out more times than I could count.
Honestly, the only thing that stopped me was the fact that if I quit going to school, I wouldn’t know what else to do. Despite how hard things were, I didn’t want to go back to the way they were before either.
So, I kept going.
I befriended a girl in my class, and began to chat with several others. I made an effort to go to bed earlier (and succeeded the majority of the time). I actually enjoyed a few of the assignments I had to do. I ate things that weren’t Kraft Dinner and instant noodles. Hell, I even downloaded Tinder and went on my first date ever.
No matter how low I felt, I could appreciate the little things: the sound of the train whirring along the tracks, and the calls of the seagulls, audible from my bedroom window. The weeks of sunshine and warm weather before the rainy season settled in. The view of the setting sun over the factory near my house as I walked down the hill to the bus stop. The accomplishment I felt after each trip to the grocery store by myself. The spot along the street in front of my house where my date parked his car, and we talked for an hour and a half. The boardwalk I explored on my own the first time I ventured out in this new city. The walks I took at dusk, listening to music, when I needed a break from my homework, and my room felt too stifling.
And still, those are the things that keep me going. I’m away from the majority of my family, and the word lonely has taken on a whole new meaning. Christmas felt a lot different this year, as I heard about family gatherings, and catching up with old friends from an outsider’s perspective. Luckily, I have my sister out here (and her wonderful husband, and two little girls), and I’m forever grateful to have somewhere that truly feels like a home away from home.
But overall, I’m okay, and I’m surviving. Every day isn’t perfect, but it’s not horrible either. I’ll be finished school at the beginning of April, and I have no idea if I even have the desire to be a graphic designer. Despite this, I have faith that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to, and it will all be alright.
Sometimes it feels like life is nothing more than a matter of getting over the next obstacle. But there’s nothing better than the relief of knowing I’ve made it through another one, and that I’m more than capable. Maybe it hasn’t always been with grace, but I’ve handled everything thrown at me thus far, and I know I can handle all the rest, too, even if it often doesn’t feel that way.
I have a lot of hope for the upcoming year. And even though 2018 hurt like a mothertrucker half the time, I don’t have any regrets. I’m okay with where I am in life. I’m ready to keep growing, and I have a long list of resolutions to guide me. I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself, yet there’s still so much more to go.
One thing I do know: I’m far braver, and more resilient than I ever thought I could be. And if nothing else, I’m proud of that.
I’m going to end this on two words that have been my mantra in recent times, words that I haven’t been able to ignore, every time I’ve felt like giving up, in the hopes that they can help someone else, too: