If I could write a letter to myself, one year ago, this is what it would say.
Right now, your next year is full of uncertainty. You will make choices over these coming months that will be difficult. You will doubt yourself and not see what the next step on the road is supposed to be. Your heart will feel like it is being ripped away from the community and life you dedicated a year to building.
You will be tempted to try and hold all of these feelings in. Don’t. Let yourself be broken. Let yourself be open. Be in the moment, and let yourself feel both the sorrow and joy of it.
When you are hurt–and you will be hurt in ways you never see coming–let yourself feel that pain, but let the pain become a gateway to growth. When your trust is betrayed, you will be hurt so much more deeply than you realize at the time. Your instinct will be to fight back, but when the time comes: choose love, choose forgiveness. Not just in this moment, but over and over again.
In the midst of all of this confusion, you will have a moment of clarity when suddenly you know what you have to do next. You will know that your heart is beckoning you home, even though you don’t know the reasons why. Listen to it, even when it hurts. Trust this moment, even as you still can’t begin to imagine leaving Boston.For now, treasure the time you have left. Be grateful. Soon you will pine for simple Friday nights watching movies and a warm meal prepared by your community members. Home will seem eerily quiet, after a year of the commuter rail rattling your windows and the noises of your Boston neighborhood.
Saying goodbye’s will be one of the most difficult things you have ever done. Remember that this difficulty is a testament to your year and how much you gave of yourself. (And it’s okay to cry in public. Really.)
You will buy a one-way plane ticket and get on a plane to fly back to St. Louis. It will be a perfect summer day when you leave Boston, and you won’t know when you will be back again. This uncertainty will haunt you, but I promise you’ll be back sooner than you think.
You are making the right choice to leave. Coming back home is necessary for your journey. As time goes on, you realize that while home may look easier on the surface, it was actually the challenging choice.
Because know this: coming home will be difficult. You will be surrounded by those who have known you since childhood, the oldest friends and family who love you in a way no one else can, but you will also be far away from all that became familiar over the past year. You will ache and feel that distance in a way you can’t put into words.
Those who love you will push you and ask hard questions about your future, and you will need to hear them, even though you don’t want to. Keep listening. Let them love you in the ways that they know how to.They won’t always understand this most recent part of your journey. But that is okay, because the world will not understand, and you must learn to share your story regardless.
Don’t expect to heal over night. Let yourself be vulnerable when you need to be.
Applying for jobs will be miserable; it will wreck your confidence and make you humble. You will have moments when you despair of ever finding something that’s the right fit, but don’t let these feelings overwhelm you. Stay focused, and invest in reflecting about what you really want. And that feeling in the pit of your stomach? Listen to it. You know what you need to do. Sometimes it’s okay to make the impractical choice.
Because you know what? Despite your moments of doubt, it will work out. You will fall in love with a new job, a new neighborhood, and new chapter of your life. These things are in your future even though you can’t even imagine them yet. They will be exactly what you need, and you will gradually grow into them. You will still struggle, but the struggle will look different. You will look different. You need to look different.
In the year to come you will have plenty of moments where you will still wonder “what if?” That doesn’t make your choices less right. You will feel lonely in ways that you never have before. There will be rough Friday nights. Learn to sit with them, to let yourself be lonely, and to find comfort in your own company. As much as you want to click those numbers on speed dial, occasionally reach for your journal instead. Find a balance between the dependence of community and standing on your own two feet.
Pick up the pieces. Give yourself the credit you deserve at work and in life. Don’t be ashamed of any choice that you made out of a loving, healthy place. Take care of yourself: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Save your pennies for plane tickets, and don’t beat yourself up about spending too much money on groceries (that $90 a month thing isn’t really realistic for your post-JVC life). Call Mom. Listen to Papa (he’s almost always right… even about the yoga classes). Be grateful to be so close to your family–it’s a luxury many don’t have. Keep Casa Taj on speed dial. Keep your heart open to everyone you come across. Celebrate the joy of the everyday.
These next months will break your heart. They will leave you broken. That’s okay. In fact, it’s just what you need. Trust the process. You will come out better on the other side. Most importantly, trust in God who has been before you, beside you, and behind you throughout it all.
P.S. You’re lactose intolerant. Buy some almond milk; you’ll feel a lot better.