“Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything. Creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it’s still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.”
– Veronica Mars
Six months ago I wrote a blog post, quite possibly one of the most important I’ve ever written, and somehow 26 weeks have gone by. Both surprisingly and not at all at the same time, somehow I looked at my views yesterday and realized that not a single week has gone by since it went up without someone looking at that post.
Not because of my writing, not because of my blog itself, and not because of me. No, because of her.
Because her life is something worth remembering.
Six months ago, Maddie Elliot’s death was that tornado Veronica Mars was talking about. Over the past few years, between being lab partners in sophomore biology and laughing in memorable Spanish classes, her presence in my life wasn’t one that demanded attention— always front and center— she was the kind of person who didn’t have to be. The good in her would be there regardless. In the way she lived and loved and cared about others, the hard part was losing someone like her and not knowing how to understand and move on from something like that.
It’s not easy.
Because can that dust really settle in six months?
I’m starting to think that, in some parts of who we are, maybe it can. But in others?
And that’s okay, because when I reached that choice, to live in the wreckage and to recreate it or be ignorant of the change instead… This was something I couldn’t let go, one I haven’t gone a day without thinking about.
This change in my perspective and my life was everything.
Have you ever heard of the glass shattering metaphor, namely from the show How I Met Your Mother? The idea is that your reality is held behind a one-way mirror, or a glass so-to-speak. When something happens, maybe someone spoils a movie or the lightbulb in your head finally clicks on in math class, the glass shatters and the mirror is broken. You can’t go back.
Losing someone so young and so incredible, that was my glass shattering moment. And every day, my eyes open just a little bit more in the way I see things or people, in how I act. I feel like I’ve almost redefined my life, what I want and what feels worth it. How to open up. How to live. How to love.
It’s sink or swim in college these days and lately, I’ve been deciding to swim a little harder toward something meaningful every day. To make the most of what Cal Poly is and can be to me.
After change or tragedy, the moments that leave you breathless and lost, you begin to rebuild again and again and again. Just keep doing it. You pick up the pieces of what’s left and rearrange it all until it fits, whether it’s your career, your heart, your relationships, or more times than not, yourself.
You make it work as best you can.
Kind of like college where none of us have this figured out, the idea of what we’re supposed to do or how we do it. Choosing a major to come in with is hard enough, let alone actually
graduating when you feel like you should, hopefully with a job or some sort of plan lined up once you do. Once I got here, the process never really seemed that simple.
Because in the midst of it all, we fail, we stumble, we hope, and we keep trying to move forward as our minds change and our perspectives open up to figure out just what it is that we’re doing every day.
We take it one day, one class, one step, and one breath at a time. Until it feels like maybe we’re on the right path and those pieces are starting to fit back together again. Not perfectly, of course not, that wouldn’t be life if it did. But maybe in a way, with a little more time, you can adjust to the imperfections just enough to be content with what you’ve become.
That dust begins to settle.
In the past year of my life, I’ve learned to give myself time to let change devastate me if it must, to let it wash over every reality and every hope and every idea I once thought was set in stone. Once it does and it fades, I figure out where to go from there.
Like so many of my friends or my classmates, that’s what it’s like trying to navigate our lives and educations together. There is so much more to understand about the realities of this life in what our futures will be while trying to make the most out of a college career that’s flying by.
So six months later, this is me rebuilding the person I used to be– the life I held a year ago, two months ago, two days ago. I am rebuilding from the wreckage, the kind of process you’ll see in my writing, in my choices, and most importantly, in who I think I am. Who I think I can be.
This is how you let your heart adjust to new burdens before turning them into a beautiful kind of chaos; just the kind I’ve come to love being in the middle of. One that makes sense to you. Because stumbling and falling, losing our way and our balance, it doesn’t mean we are incapable to moving forward or getting it all “right.”
That just means maybe we will figure it out along the way. Sometime and someday, it will make sense.
As long as you trust that maybe, every change is just a step closer to who we are going to be. And if you’re on this journey with me, then you know, there’s so much more to see through the dust and the chaos. Whether there are more tornados on the horizon or something completely new, I’m excited to take you all with me.
So happy Friday, happy April, and here’s to whatever comes next.