I am not a crier. I rarely even cried as a baby and tears shed from then on were only induced from some momentarily catastrophic event. Even with high school years tumultuous enough to warrant a sappy TV teen drama, any and all crying was confined to the privacy of my little yellow room, and the number of tears collected wouldn’t even be enough to fill one of those high school science test tubes. I’ve never been a happy crier either. My tear ducts had never connected with any happy emotion, and I am perfectly okay with that. I also never ever cried in public and I was never much for crying on shoulders—-lets be real, they’re kind of boney anyways.
After 21 years and a half-full test tube of tears, I came back to school a complete, whole, put-together college senior. I was confident in my job prospects, still high off of my newly found study-abroad independence, and ready to resume normality within the walls of William and Mary with the people I love(d) most. Well apparently normality got lost somewhere on route 95 between Sparta, NJ and Williamsburg, VA. Absolutely nothing about the past month has been normal, expected, or asked for. On my shoulders rest hundreds of unread pages, hours of lost sleep, too many doctor’s appointments, and the guilt of neglecting friends I should’ve reconnected with weeks ago. To accessorize, I have a tub full of tears dragging along behind me—a constant reminder that if you don’t cry for 21 years, you’ll make up for it in three weeks. When it rains it pours.
I’ve spent so much time defining myself in terms of the past three weeks. I am a (jealous) ex-girlfriend, a slacker student, a stressed senior, a crying mess, a neglectful friend, and not nearly as healthy as I would’ve hoped. But then I realized—-how can three weeks, or even six months, be used as a measure for what I am or what I am not? The easy answer is: they can’t. I am smart. I am confident. I am a friend…..a best friend even. I am a sister, a philanthropist, and a hopeful romantic. Maybe I don’t feel all of those things right now, but in time I think I will.
It’s just funny how life confronts you with the things that scare you the most at one time—as though you’re trotting along in a marathon only to find an infinite brick wall that stops you dead in your tracks, as the other runners who have always been miles behind you glide through the wall with ease. I’ve been running, sprinting in fact, from the same standing issue since I was nine years old. Now recent events have taught me its time to stop, take off my sneakers, leave the race, and deal with it.
Picking up the pieces of what have seemed like the longest three weeks of my life have shown me more than the fact that I need to stop running. They’ve shown me who my friends are. I’ve always known, of course, but it’s solidified who I need in my life to make me feel like me. (mind you, they aren’t necessarily just the people I spend most of my time with). The past three weeks have shown me that I have a lot of growing to do, I don’t know myself as well as I would’ve hoped, and that I’d rather eat mac and cheese than anything else. I’ve also been able to connect with my mom like I never have before. Granted, we’ve always been close, and I’d rather have bonded with her over something happier than a broken heart, but now I understand why my dad leaving has had such a big effect on her life and who she is.
Most importantly, I’ve learned it’s okay to cry and to be sad. And it’s okay to be that way for some time. When things start piling up, you can only expect so much of yourself. You are not invincible and sometimes you need to lean on whoever is around you (or in my case, completely fall on them until you can hold yourself up again.) Time at the moment, is my best friend and my worst enemy. I know that with time, all of the things that have happened over the past three weeks will dissolve into memories detached from feeling. On the other hand, time is moving much too slowly.
So for now, I will continue to lean and continue to let myself heal. I will cut myself some slack because I know that somewhere in another time continuum, future me is looking back at current me saying “just wait, it’ll all be okay.”