It's that time of year when people tend to look back on the previous year and do some reflection. Well, I'm a few days late, but you get the idea... This is one of those blog posts that I don't even know how to begin. So much has happened in my life, I think it's safe to say this year has brought with it more major life changes than any other. Buckle up, it's been a wild ride.
I guess I'll get the horribleness out of the way first. On April 13, 2016, my dad died of depression, taking his own life. I hate the word "suicide". That is an accurate descriptor for what happened, but it seems like our society has attached so much shame to that word. I have trouble using it to describe a situation that's so personal to me, and a person that I loved so much. Maybe someday I'll write more about it, but for now it's still a bit too raw. Suffice it to say that April 13 was the single worst day of my life, and every other event this year has been affected by the cloud of grief that hangs over our family.
This year wasn't all bad. On May 27, 2016, I graduated from Wellesley College. Wellesley does commencement right, and it was such a joyful few days. Many of my family and even one of my best friends flew out to Boston to visit my college and see me graduate, which meant the world to me. It was certainly bittersweet, both because I was missing somebody very important to me and also because I liked Wellesley and knew I'd miss being there. I did miss Wellesley this fall as everybody else was going back to school. It had to end sometime though, and our commencement was a fitting end to 4 great years. The icing on the cake was being able to show many of my family and friends around campus and around Boston for the first time; we had a blast!
On June 21, 2016, I boarded a plane for Bangkok, Thailand. I was participating in a program called the Global Urban Trek (I've written about it here before) and I was embarking on a 6 week journey to live in a slum in North Africa and minister to the community there. (I know, it's kind of confusing; we spent a week of orientation in Thailand before going to North Africa. No, the two places are not very close together, as my jet lag attested.) I had been on several 8-10 day missions trips before, but this summer was entirely different. I formed relationships deeper than I ever could have imagined in only 6 weeks. I learned so much from each member of my team, but also from the local people that we served with and who showed us incredible hospitality as we entered their culture. I learned a tiny amount about what it's like for a family to live in a community where the main source of income is collecting and sorting garbage by hand, where packs of feral dogs and rats in the street (both dead and alive) are a daily reality. It was an eye opening experience; I am very grateful for all that I learned, and I hope that maybe I was able to contribute to their lives in some small way.
On August 5, 2016, I arrived back home. And ever since, I've been trying to sort through my life and evaluate what comes next. I am incredibly lucky that I've had this time to relax and recover and slowly enter into life after college, but it's also frustrating. What I wouldn't give to have already had a plan in place! Following a plan sounds so much easier than being in this limbo, living day to day and somehow trying to figure out what's next. I know I'll continue moving forward, even if some days it feels as though I've moved backwards, or that I'm moving impossibly slow.
What is a new year for if not new beginnings?