What is the best way to say goodbye? Today is August 14.
Since I started writing these posts 150 days ago, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want to end them. At first I thought I’d stop on day 100, a nice solid number. When that came and went I decided to end on either my graduation or the day of my graduation party, but obviously that didn’t work out either. Ultimately, here I am writing my last entry the night before I move into college. It seems a fitting end to this part of my story, a goodbye mixed in with a hello. It matches my melancholy quite well.
For 150 days I’ve written all about my breakfasts and what I’ve watched on Netflix and Hulu and The CW and every other random streaming service I’ve come across. I’ve described my failed attempt at getting in shape, how I’ve donated blood on several occasions and my various expeditions in the realm of baking. I’ve included pictures of beautiful sunsets, the mess I’ve made of my room on several occasions and the numerous strange hair days I’ve had. I did my best to be transparent, but if I’m being honest there were certain parts of this stage of my life I’ve kept to myself. I am a big fan of privacy after all.
I don’t want to become a statistic, but I know as soon as I am on campus I will lose how much control I have over my own safety. I feel as if I’m going off to battle against an invisible enemy that hides with the faces of my friends, peers, teachers and the strangers I will pass on the street.”
At the end of each post, I included a quote. On some days I spent a long time searching for the perfect words to match the tone of what I was saying. On other days I would google something like “quotes about stars” and use whatever words of wisdom popped up. Overall I wrote a lot. Like 225 single spaced pages a lot. I started writing this blog, I guess it’s a blog, because I wanted to make Bearing News look good for competition and because my mom/journalism teacher asked me to.
I am not a person who likes to talk about herself. I would rather discuss politics than explain my emotions and thoughts to the world, and anyone who knows me knows how little I like talking politics. I tried to keep a protective wall between myself and what I put down on paper. I’d spend paragraphs describing why the series I was binge watching was so good or how lovely the weather was or how delicious the bowl of oatmeal with honey and walnuts I ate tasted. I wrote about my life in an annoying amount of detail, but I shied away from talking about anything “real.” All of the nitty gritty hard to talk about emotions stayed off the page. I worry now that I’ve sugar coated these past months, and that was not my intention.
By keeping the hard parts of my life to myself, the days where I felt the weight of the world pushing down on my chest like an immovable mountain of bricks, I thought I was allowing these posts to capture the practicalities of my experience during quarantine instead of oversharing my emotions with the world. Whether or not that was the right decision, I guess I’ll never know. I am lucky that the closest I’ve really come to the pandemic is two scares, one with a family friend and another with my mom, both of which turned out to be nothing. I know there are hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. who have lost loved ones, and I am more grateful than I can express for not having joined into that statistic yet. I am terrified about going off to college where I’ll be surrounded by veritable strangers all day every day not knowing how safe they have been or how seriously they’re taking this public health crisis.
When I thought about going off to school, I hadn’t pictured packing masks in my suitcase along with my pajamas. I hadn’t anticipated how worried I’d be to be leaving home not because it’s a different place but because I don’t know if I’ll be in the same good health when I return. I don’t want to become a statistic, but I know as soon as I am on campus I will lose how much control I have over my own safety. I feel as if I’m going off to battle against an invisible enemy that hides with the faces of my friends, peers, teachers and the strangers I will pass on the street. I thought my biggest concern would be making a good first impression, but that’s no longer the case.
All day today I’ve been a mess of emotions. I guess I’m breaking my pattern of not talking about my feelings to share this, but I think it’ll be OK. As silly as it may sound, and as much as I’ll probably kick myself in five years for writing this and sending it out into the ether, I slept in my parents’ bed last night. I couldn’t fall asleep, so I left my own room and walked into theirs. To the sound of my mom’s light snoring, I was able to fall asleep. In less than a month I’ll be 19 years old, but I suppose even adults still need their parents.
I’m not sure if my featured image shows it, but I did my fair share of crying today. I couldn’t tell if it was because I’m leaving tomorrow or because change of any sort just has that effect on me. I felt as if the slightest shift in the world around me would make me start shedding tears again. My heart hurt and my lungs couldn’t seem to expand to get enough air because of the tension in my chest. I tried to distract myself with music and by taking a nap, but when the future is inevitable and upon me there isn’t much I can do to suddenly make myself feel better.
Whenever I look back and read this post, I’m certain I’ll laugh at myself for how disjointed everything I’m saying is. I normally follow the chronology of my day, but that vanishes when I have to make sure I say everything I want to say today because this is my last post. I thought my last story for Bearing News would be during the school year, but it was actually on a Friday in August after I’ve technically graduated. Life has a way of not turning out how I expect it to, both with the good and the bad.
“I’ll get out of life what I put into it, so from here on out I want the love, compassion, empathy and kindness I put into this world to outweigh the negativity and hatred I’ve added. If I can do this, I think I’ll be a step closer to achieving my exceptionally vague and ill-defined life plan.”
I feel like an imposter. I’m going off to school and, at least according to many of the college-based movies I’ve watched over the years, I’m supposed to be a fully grown adult who has her life figured out. If I’m using National Lampoon’s Animal House as my playbook I’ll have a lot of strange adventures in my future. If I follow any one of the several fairytale adaptations I’m in for an epic romance and a lot of laughs. Regardless of what I anticipate my college experience looking like, I doubt in four years I’ll be able to say I was right about everything I thought would happen. Hopefully I have a few adventures, learn a thing or two and make some friends. I know those are vague goals, but my life plan is “Do good and help people” after all, so I think I’ll be alright.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to do some last minute scramble packing (also called remembering everything I forgot to pack tonight and hoping I can find what I’m looking for) before going to campus. My roommate moves in before I do, so I have until about 11 a.m. to get my affairs in order. My grandpa has been one of my most consistent readers, so I’m going to do my best to keep sending him updates about my life, like how I figured out how to officially get paid for my job today or how I feel bad about not visiting him today.
During high school I let academics consume me. I didn’t prioritize myself, my family or my friends. I was a straight A student, but looking back at everything I missed out on and what I didn’t do, as well as the person I could have been, I’m not sure if the academic success was worth the price I had to pay. I’m not going to suddenly stop caring about school. I don’t think I’m physically able to do that even if I wanted to. In college, though, I am going to say yes to adventures and do my best to be a better friend and daughter. I want to live a good, fulfilling, happy life, and that starts with the type of person I am. I’ll get out of life what I put into it, so from here on out I want the love, compassion, empathy and kindness I put into this world to outweigh the negativity and hatred I’ve added. If I can do this, I think I’ll be a step closer to achieving my exceptionally vague and ill-defined life plan.
“There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part, So just give me a happy middle And a very happy start.”
I wish I had some magic words to say to close out this post or a piece of spectacular, enlightening life advice to share, but I don’t. All I know is this: There is no one right path. Life goes on after the good and the bad, even on the days when it doesn’t feel like it will. People change and grow and become different versions of themselves. Friends and family make life better. Looking at the stars won’t fix everything, but it does good in its own way. Love, even when it hurts, even when it’s hard. This world has enough pain and hurt and anger in it, so please don’t add more. We are all worthy and deserving of love, kindness, acceptance and a second chance. Be kind to one another, and to yourself.
“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.”
― Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It
How did you spend your 150th day social distancing? Let us know in the comments below.