Little Susan, big world: what lies ahead

Note: this is the official first post of the abroad series for the next four months, which will document my time in Dublin, Ireland.

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PC: Emmet Farnan  

Little Susan, big world.

On January 16, 2017, I will be flying into Philadelphia to begin my journey to Dublin, Ireland, for the spring semester. I will be spending a full four months taking classes, exploring, drinking tea and teaching myself to enjoy beer across the Emerald Isle. I committed to studying abroad in February, but that feels like an eternity ago.

When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to study abroad in college. I had the dreams of traveling in Europe as a twenty-something with few responsibilities. In four weeks, I get to turn those dreams into a reality.

On one hand, I am incredibly excited for the adventures that lie ahead. I have been told time and time again that it will be some of the greatest times of my life, and that this is an opportunity I cannot pass up. On the other hand, I have a heavy heart, knowing that I won’t see some of my nearest and dearest people for a couple of months – and at worst, until senior year begins in the fall.

Since I’ve been at home, I have been thinking a lot less of what lies ahead (even though I should be making a packing list), and more of what I have left behind. I’m sure I am not the only one who can say that 2016 was a roller-coaster year.

It has been a rough year.

From suddenly moving across campus to hiding a moderate eating disorder to continuing my fight with anxiety and depression, it definitely has not been a walk in the park. However, like I have written in my last posts, I am grateful for the lessons these struggles have taught me and I am grateful for the point that I am at today.

To all of you who also fight silent battles: do not give up hope. I wish I could tell each and every one of you in person and hold your face in my hands and beg you not to give up hope. I will not belittle the feeling of hopelessness – I felt it too many times this year. I felt it when I was losing it on a Thursday night. I felt it when I was sitting in a hospital bed in Las Vegas after a severe panic attack. I felt it when I was a slave to my dangerous running habits and when I pushed myself to do more and eat less. I felt it when I was only 114 pounds but still hated what I saw in the mirror. I felt it when I couldn’t get out of bed until noon and still couldn’t motivate myself to get through the day.

My friends saved my life, again and again. They picked me up, again and again. They let me cry, again and again. They were patient, again and again.

I met some of my family this year.

These are truly special people that I am grateful for each morning I wake up and every night I go to bed. These are people that have held me when I cried and laughed with me until I cried. We celebrate all of our small (and big) victories together, and we remind each other how much everyone is loved every single day. They hold my hand when we cross the street in Chicago because I never look before I cross the road. They let me inhale Veggie straws at odd hours because I don’t want to finish my term paper. They let me lay out their outfits the night before as if I were their mother. They are always down for dinner and for coffee and for donuts. They have gone on art escapades and drank warm soup in a small cafe with me. They have texted me almost every day despite being a country away all semester, just to see how I am doing.

I have also been given so much joy from my sweet boy, who I have had the luck of being able to love for a year and a half now. Despite the daunting length of time during which we will be apart, I am thankful to have someone who supports me in all of my dreams and who has only ever given me his blessings instead of doubts. I cannot wait until the next time I can hold his hand and tell him he needs to shave his mustache.

I have met people that have gone from being my friends to my family this past year. I have been reminded several times that great friends can save lives. They have definitely saved mine, and they have also saved my sanity and my self-worth – albeit not my dignity, unfortunately.

The lack of judgment and wealth of love that I receive from these people on a daily basis is something that I cannot adequately put into words. It is something that breaks my heart when I think of how I will be 3,000 miles away from them for the next four months.

 What lies ahead?

I am not sure. I am guessing there will be a lot of good food, good moments and good things to see. I am only sure of a few things. I am sure that the people I have gushed about in today’s post will still have my back even when I am across the ocean. I am sure that there will still be low moments and rough days. I am sure that the next time I see them, I will cry. I am sure that the next few months will lead us in many directions, but never too far away from each other.

Thank you.

The light in me honors the light in you,

Susan

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