We don’t get to pick when life decides to completely change our lives around. This is such an important realization that I have recently come to, and it isn’t the easiest pill to swallow.
If you are like me, I adore having control of every situation around me. Being in control helps me feel saner even in the smallest ways, but life seems to throw the worst curveballs when everything seems to be running smooth.
If you have ever met me, you probably soon come to realize that I hate relying on others and I have built up a layer of very thick skin over the years. I am the type to not tell people when I am hurting or if things are bothering me; I just keep it bottled up inside until those certain days where I explode. I have never been one to show any type of emotions around others because I think I am burdening them, and I never want to be a burden. So, when bad things happen, I don’t tell those who care about me how I feel. I will act completely normal and help them rather than ever ask them to help me. But, I have begun to learn during this season that we don’t get to choose what happens around us, and it is beyond healthy to tell people you are struggling.
The summer going into my senior year of high school, three out of my four grandparents died in a span of two months *you can read more about my grief process in an earlier blog*. Throughout that time, I didn’t know what healthy grieving was, I didn’t even know it existed. I was utterly and completely numb, thinking I had to be the rock for my family as they grieved. This is where my thick skin really came into play, I wouldn’t show emotion in front of anyone, I held my composure until I would get to my room and silently cry so my parents couldn’t hear me. They were going through so much and I didn’t want to burden them with my grief. So, after that summer I pretty much became numb to any death and pain, I just seemed to put it in a box and it would be stuck in my subconscious.
But, as I finished my first year of college, I began to slowly learn that being vulnerable is so good and healthy. Being open to others is something that builds relationships, so I slowly began to open up to a few people in my life. My thick skin began to shed, and I learned that showing emotion in front of others doesn’t make you weak but strong.
This season has been a season of enormous change with COVID, summer job, online school, and everything in between. But, as my summer job came to an end and I began to pack up my life once again to head to college, I finally felt a little bit in control. I was packing and ready to move into my new house with my best friends in my favorite place in the world. I was ready for the craziness of the past 6 months to slip away into a memory and begin my third year of college surrounded by my closest friends and biggest supporters. As I prepared for move-in, I found out a family friends dad had been killed. And there it was again, that numbness, I couldn’t even believe what I was hearing. For days it didn’t even seem real and when the time came for the processing to finally start, it was time to load up the truck and head to school. I barely got to grieve for this incredible family who had just lost their dad as I put on my happy face for my college friends. I didn’t even tell the people closest to me until the day of the visitation because I didn’t want to burden them with my pain. So, I held it inside and tried to prepare for what was ahead of me. I moved into my house two days before school started (thanks COVID for pushing our semester up a week early).
The first day of school was today, as I write this on a Monday, and I was so excited to begin this new year. After my first two classes, I got a text that one of my classmates from grade school had died the day before. I was in a 15-minute break between classes as I read the obituary and tried to wrap my head around what I had just read. About 20 minutes into my zoom class it started to hit me, wow, all of this really happened. I began tearing up but stopped myself immediately because I didn’t want my classmates to think I’m some crazy girl who is crying in class on the first day of school.
When I got off my zoom, I sat on my bed and just cried. So much change in so little time, and I had no way to control it or fix it. There was nothing I could do to change what was going on around me, I was engulfed in my sadness, confusion, and pain. And the worst part is there was no one I wanted to tell and turn to, because I didn’t want to burden them. But, I also came to realize today that I am not a burden. The people in my life love me so much that they will stop what they are doing to sit with me through my pain. I am so independent that I never want to ask for help, but we are called to be in community with others through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We can’t always control what the world around us will turn out to be. We can’t tell people who to be or what to do. We can’t make people love us, but there is a laundry list of things that we can do. We can tell people we love them. We can put our phones down when we are with others. We can encourage others and lift them up. We can appreciate the little things like your roommates offering to buy you dinner when you need a night to yourself. We can laugh at dumb jokes. We can cry with people when they are hurting. We can hold those we love. We can learn to appreciate the little things, because if these past two weeks have taught me anything, it is that we never know when life is going to throw us a curveball.
So, to the girl who appreciates the little things, hold them close to your heart. Let those around you know you love and care about them. Cherish time spent with your grandparents and family members. Ask others how they feel and put them before yourself. Enjoy the sunrise, a pretty flower, or a dragonfly in your path, because although life may not always go the way we want to, we can always find things to appreciate in the simplicity of life.