Learning and growing

I find it truly incredible how much this last year of my life has helped me grow. I’ve become so focused on my career lately that very little outside of my classes and my internships has mattered. I feel terrible because of how much I’ve neglected my best friends in the process of growing as a person, but I’ve gained so much in experiences. It’s that devil of a triangle where you have to pick two: sleep, good grades or a social life.

I feel like the greatest place I’ve grown, though, is emotionally. I also feel like I’ve hid my emotions a lot lately, but more about that in a minute.

I started talking with Sean in April. We talked every day, and he just got me. He took me on our first date in May. From there, we spent nearly every weekend together, texted every day, acted like a normal couple, but we never put a label on it. I still fell so hard for that man. Then he left for the summer to work at Cedar Point. We had already been doing distance, so this wasn’t that much different.

Sean had talked about teaching English in Thailand since the beginning of our dating. I knew it was a goal that he had, and he was determined to reach it. I admired him for it and for chasing after it so feverishly. He had an interview with a group that could place him abroad quickly.

He had just finished at Cedar Point and had gone with his mother and grandmother to Cleveland for his grandmother’s surgery. But a few days into that trip he stopped responding to my texts. I worried something terrible had happened.

Five days later, he texted me from the airport saying he had gotten placed in the program and was flying out for training.

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I didn’t get to properly prepare my heart for this. Had he told me when he had got the job offer, I would have been able to pull out, grab the bit of my heart I had given him and run.

This happened a month ago. I’ve had nightmares about him leaving again. I’ve cried more often than I’d like to admit. But it’s also given me so much more determination to get out of college and chase after my dreams. I’m not mad at Sean for following his heart and achieving his goals. I couldn’t be prouder of him than I am right now. I’m mad at him for not letting me protect my heart, though.

I wrote him a letter when he left, and I don’t know that he’ll ever read it, but it’s there for him:

I’m so proud of you for accomplishing this goal. I’m so proud of you for not letting me hold you back and I’m so, so incredibly proud to say that I’ve had you in my life for some short amount of time.

I don’t know when I’ll fall out of love with you or if it’ll stay in my heart forever, even just in a little piece. I don’t know when the tears are going to stop falling or when my heart will stop hurting. I wish I knew these answers.

But please don’t forget how proud of you I am. I appreciate you for helping me grow as a person, and I wish I could have said all of this to your beautiful face. I’m not mad at you. I’m just so incredibly proud of everything you do and everything you’ve helped me do. Thank you.

But that’s the devil in relationships. You end up letting that wall break down just a little and watch this person climb in and set up camp. It’s terrifying because you wonder, “what do they think they’re doing in my territory?” But you still sit by that fire they built and share stories and get to know them. When they leave, you’ll miss them, but you still have those stories and those experiences to learn from. And that’s the beauty of every relationship.

It’s taken me a little while to share this story because I worry that it’ll make me seem weak, like it’ll make me seem oblivious to things that were happening around me.

But I think the story makes me more human. You can’t control the actions of those around you, but you can control the way you react to those actions. I’ve retreated some emotionally. I’m focusing on school and just getting out, and I’ve started to build that emotional wall back up. But I’m still grateful for the man that tore it down a bit.

Sean was my first significant relationship in almost two years. He was the first relationship I’ve had that had decent communication between the two of us, until that ending little hiccup. But I still appreciate everything he taught me about myself and what he taught me about relationships. Maybe someday I’ll find someone that I can love that will love me back, and we can communicate and be happy sometimes and fight sometimes and just talk.

I had a drunk 50-year-old woman at Blissfest in 2010 tell me, “Communication is key.” I didn’t know then how much her words would continue to ring true through my life, but I’ll never forget them, and I’m going to continue to live by them.

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Change

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. ” – Isaac Asimov

It’s difficult thinking about the future and what it can hold. One part of me is certain that it’s full of endless possibilities, that I can go anywhere, work from anywhere and do anything. A journalism degree does not limit me to just covering the news. I could freelance, edit, write for a paper or magazine. I could enter communications or marketing or advertising. Yet, another part of me feels stuck in a rut, set with the conservative, traditional ten year plan that 18-year-old me wanted.

One of the best things that has happened to me is dating a man that has such clear goals in mind about where he wants to go, what he wants to do and what he wants to be. I admire his tenacity in reaching those goals, too, not letting anything hold him back, including me. I appreciate his open communication since the beginning of our relationship about these goals and his determination to achieve them. I support his dreams and anything that he has to do to get there, even if it means his leaving the country and me behind with it.

Like Asimov said, “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today.” Without change, there is no spark, nothing to look forward to, nothing to push for. I’m watching the industry I adore change rapidly, from the MLive internship program getting cut to reporters leaving almost weekly for other jobs. It’s terrifying to watch those jobs left vacant. However, that’s a change the company has made and it’s a reflection of how society feels about journalism.

Yes, change is scary. I’m entering my final semester of college on Monday. I have 18 credits, 115 days and six finals that stand in the way of me and my degree. After five and a half years, it’s time to move on. I won’t let anything stop me. There will be lots of changes along with it, an abundance of new ideas and opportunities ahead of me during the semester and especially after. Embracing change is the only way to go about life, though.

You shouldn’t get stuck in some rut because it’s where you feel you should be. You shouldn’t rest on your laurels because it’s what is comfortable. You should be constantly pushing forward, trying for better and making yourself better in turn.

I think John F. Kennedy put it best when he said, “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”