The melody weaved into my heart as I let the images of 2015 enter my mind. I let the pain of the past be washed away as the the harsher images revealed themselves, but softened as the countdown to 2016 began. I chose to let it go with the simple fact that I cannot change the past. I can only change my future. As the pain of the last year came to a close as time shifted anew, I welcomed in the promise of a better year, a stronger heart, and a healthier understanding of life.
The last year began in hardship as I entered back into a community I never felt I belonged in. Everyone wanted me to love college. To love the small community and those who felt they had made the correct decision for the beginning of their 20s. As soon as I stepped onto the quad for the first time as a registered student, my heart sank. I knew it was not the right place for me, but felt I had to stick it out for my roommate and my family. The pain only showed if the pressure got to be too much as I lashed out in harsh comments of frustration. I rarely slept good as my stomach felt sick from the food, so I would walk in the dead of night. Letting the tears slip down my cheeks that would be dry by morning.
I hid in my studies, stayed quiet in class, attempted to make solid friendships, but something was missing. Even as I left the first summer, I came back trying to make it good, trying to convince myself this was where I was supposed to be. My heart never felt peace. As living situations turned sour, I ran at night to alleviate the stress as sleep still would not come. Tension was high, classes were demanding, and my health began to slip. Food seemed uninteresting, relationships were strained, and I found every possible way to not be in the small town that sucked life out of me. I tried to get involved, but groups fell through, and ideas stayed just as that. Ideas. Everything was stagnant without motion and I felt stuck.
With anxiety knocking at the door, I hid from the question of forgiving this place. Of forgiving myself for staying. For forgiving those who thought I could make this small town a home. When in reality, it never could be a home for me. After traveling, it only felt worse, because I felt more at home traveling to new places with just a backpack than I did living in this place. My heart felt peace when I traveled, my body felt relief, and I could think without anxious thoughts.
Amongst stacks of books, papers of research, and laughter from the circulation desk my heart would settle into a regular rhythm. In my job I felt listened to and encouraged to grow. Never before had I felt the ease of laughter and cherished understanding of community built through trust and love. My supervisors cared and noticed when my heart and my body were less than joyful, and I felt I could finally voice my health issues that only seemed to worsen. I spent those two summers in the library with my thoughts, my dreams, and my heart doing its best to feel settled.
My walls were firmly and carefully built around my heart as the last semester came. I tired of being in pain, emotionally and physically. Professors noticed my fatigue and poked holes in my foundation, knowing it would help me grow. I let the walls crumble, revealing my feelings of abandonment, betrayal, and lack of forgiveness. Even as the ending days of the semester came, the abandonment worsened as people chose to not show up in my world. I stopped asking for people cause the pain of abandonment ran too deep in my veins and created deeper wounds. After two weeks of tears, graduation finally came.
I walked across the stage to accept the symbolic motion of my finished degree. One might expect sadness with the change of season, but I simply felt relief. I no longer had to return to a community I never felt I belonged in. In the past couple years I have learned a lot about resilience, strength, and the importance of growth. I learned that people will disappoint you, but they also will love you. And the ones that hold you as your heart crumbles, are the friendships worth investing in. I learned my passion for research, traveling, people, and healthy communication. I found my voice in writing, my compassion towards human causes, and what I can do to help this world.
Yet, this is only the beginning. The beginning of a new season. A new chapter in life. My heart is relieved to let the past go and move forward. For too long the wounds festered. It is now time to set the stones of pain, abandonment, and betrayal to lay rest in the river. To let the water wash away the pain in memory, but to keep the lessons of love and strength. With the weight of 2015 and the years that preceded it gone, I can step forward into a grander future.
As Nahko and Medicine For The People counted into the New Year of 2016, I let the good things come. I believe in a greater year of healing, of life, and of love. The pains of the past are forgiven and laid to rest. Don’t go digging for what has been, because it is time to start planting for what will be and what is before you. Beyond pain, darkness, abandonment, and disappointment, there are the simple things of joy. The joy of laughter, of friendship, and of new beginnings. As each new day begins, you are a step closer to a greater understanding of life and of love. Let 2016 be a good one. And believe in the good things coming.