For the first time since I was old enough for people to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what is around the corner of next year, or what’s to come in the following years. I really have no idea what life will look like for 30-year-old Emily.
Where will she be? What will she be doing? Will she have a family?
All I know is this: I’ve resolved myself to embracing the unknown, to throwing myself forward in the hopes of shaping my future to be something I will be content with.
Yes, I’m passing moments by sitting here blogging, instead of going to events and informational sessions – but there’s really a limit to how much you can experience. There’s a limit to how much you can learn before you can no longer focus, a limit to what you can do before you’re tired, a limit to the things you can do before nothing seems new and exciting.
Life is not a zero-sum game. Life is a challenging, constant tug-of-war of opportunity and opportunity cost. The choices you make now, no matter how small, will affect the future, the same way that many people believe in the butterfly effect.
And it just.
I wrote the above section as I was waiting for sleep to overtake me on February 25. I was still at CMU, falling asleep in my school provided bed and waking up every morning to sun filling my room, as I was lucky enough to have a room on the east side of the building.
Truthfully, I was scared as I wrote that. The unknown is scary and wonderful; as humans, we’re constantly challenging ourselves to either uncover the unknown or accept it.
This winter was genuinely the hardest season of my life. As it started to end, I realized that the weather had affected me more than I had realized. I retained just enough will to live to complete the bare minimum on my assignments, feed myself (most of the time), and do the work I enjoyed as a Resident Assistant and as a Campus Ambassador Coordinator.
One thing that I didn’t talk to anyone about at all during this time was how I felt. I’ve been through this before where I had so little energy that I didn’t want to live, but I made it through and I always knew there was something on the other side of my mood, waiting to embrace me and help me get a little better. Just to be clear, I’m safe, I’m okay, and I will always be okay eventually.
I am only the positive force that I am because of all the pain I’ve been through.
I’m constantly torn between being open about what’s going on inside me and keeping it to myself so I can help others. It’s hard for me to be open about how I feel because I’m so used to receiving pity – and I hate being pitied. I’m still me, still the same zesty person you know. None of that changes when I tell you I am having a hard time.
But I want to talk about how I felt here, since I know my blogs are less mainstream and I know some of the people who read these. Here is what you didn’t see on social media from me in the last few months:
This winter, I barely smiled at all. I slept all the time. I had just enough energy to get me to classes, usually on time or a minute late, and finish the work the night before class. I had enough energy to shower every couple of days, if I was lucky. When I was in public spaces though, I did what I needed to do to present myself as “okay”. I enjoyed my work, I’d banter with the people around me, I’d check in with my friends. The only time I really socialized or hung out with anyone, though, was in my room. I didn’t have the energy to hang out somewhere in another part of campus, didn’t have the energy to leave my room some days.
My close friends helped me through. I never had to explain to them, but I think they understood why I didn’t want to leave my room. They came to my space to hang out, and I appreciated it. I can’t even begin to share how grateful I am to the people who checked in on me during those couple of months, or the friends that send me memes that made them think of me. Anything that anyone did to show they had thought about me was enough to help me recover a little more of my energy, regardless of whether they knew.
I’m glad the sun is out now. I feel alive again, and I’ve been wildly busy with school work, photo work, and tons of planning. In a week, I’ll be thrown back into winter when I leave for Cape Town, South Africa – this time, not as cold! But still less sun. I’m mentally preparing for cooler weather, less sunshine, and the adjustments that come with traveling alone. Wish me luck, send me a couple dollars to stock up on film (if you feel like it), and please pray that my travels this year don’t get nearly as messed up as my travels were last year.