After graduation, I realized that it was the anticipation of change that was more heartbreaking than the actual change itself. The night before I moved out of Iowa City for good, I met up with two good friends of mine where we sat on my favorite outdoor patio, sipping drinks and talking while surrounded by various light fixtures. It was the kind of night that I appreciated more than anything, because it only happened every so often.
In a way, I was outgrowing the culture that tends to saturate college life: the excessive drinking, lack of commitment to planning/socializing, and so on. And yet, I knew I would miss my friends, the community and comraderie that we shared as we cultivated relationships and traditions. I dreaded going back to the environment that had only seemed to get worse as time went on. The reality of leaving set in as my dad and I loaded up the furniture (with the help of two friends) and hugged these wonderful people goodbye. Thankfully I was able to hold myself together for the majority of the day, but once we hit the road I cried (quietly but freely) all the way back.
And it has been a tough time. Not only did I leave behind a life that I'd built for the last four years, but my parents are also in the process of getting divorced. It has been a long time coming and I think my family will be better off in the long run, but I'm experiencing a lot of mixed feelings. Underneath all of the anger and hurt, it's an incredibly sad situation. I will write more about it when I've gained a broader perspective, if only for the sake of my own healing. I'm grateful to be able to at least acknowledge that it's happening, because it will take a while to fully get over.
In the midst of that, I've chosen to live in a more emotionally healthy environment so that I can work through some personal things and get my feet on solid ground. I love my parents and siblings deeply, but I can't be the best sister/daughter/support source when I'm constantly crying or lashing out in anger because I can't express my thoughts. I'm not saying that separation is the cure-all to conflict, but it has helped me make better decisions for myself and for my future; my priorities right now revolve around taking steps toward my career, getting involved in a church, and finding a therapist.
This poem pretty much says it all.
If there's one truth I've realized about starting over, it's that there comes a point where you can no longer depend on circumstances to do so. There aren't specific milestones like graduations or even birthdays that give you an automatic fresh start; real new beginnings are the ones where you go out there and you create them on your own, regardless of where you're at. It's hard to explain what it feels like exactly; I'm glad because a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, yet I am also exhausted from the realities surrounding me. They are realities that sometimes make me feel as though I am very much alone in all of this.
And yet, I am not and I never will be. I have my faith, which realistically, is the only thing that any of us are guaranteed when storms and darkness come rolling in.
Somewhere between graduation and moving out, I started reading my bible again as a way to find clarity in regards to what was going to happen. Out of curiosity I began reading a chapter in the book of Hebrews each night, and this particular verse struck me in a way that gave me chills:
May the God of Peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, Great Shepherd of sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
A couple of days before I left, one of my close friends called me up and prayed over me, where she literally spoke of the exact same verse.
You know, I don't know what the future holds. I don't have a plan beyond the priorities I mentioned above, and I suppose that's a good thing. I miss Iowa City already, but more importantly I miss the people that I met there. I think about them all the time and I don't think that will change for a while, because a lot of them encouraged me in healing and embracing who I am. For now I am thankful for texting, phone calls, and Facebook.
I believe that there is life after college, but it will take time to figure out exactly what that entails.
I will be OK.