I’ve learned more about mortality in the last four years of my life than I had in the entire seventeen before that.
It’s astounding. I’ve never found a good reason to use that word, but here it is.
Out of the 3 quarters most of us spend here at Cal Poly every year, ever since my sophomore year started, I’ve had to talk to professors in the first two weeks of classes in at least 2 of them.
Because something happened. Whether it was an incessant onset of unending migraines, the loss of friends, or everything in between, there was always something I wasn’t sure I could handle and didn’t know how it would impact my studies.
I mean this is college—this is life—so of course there are a lot of things we can’t see coming. Unfortunately, the jobs or the kids or the friends or the classes, none of it stops long enough for us to get our foundation put back together once we lose it.
In the words of Ellis Grey, “the carousel never stops turning.”
So, what do we do?
Last week, here’s what I did: I kept moving. Just like I think we all do. I went to class, to work, did the homework I could remember to do, and I put one foot in front of the other. Because one thing I realized, at least for my situation, is that it could have been worse. So, so much worse.
Long story short, I blacked out last week Tuesday and fell on my face, much to the pleasure of my glasses and the black eye I’ve been sporting due to the former party. Even though it’s not a great situation and my eyebrow may have a nice little scar down the center to eradicate any chance of a unibrow in my future, the blackout happened in one of the best places it could have. Our Multicultural Center (MCC).
Now I’m not saying I’m glad it did, not at all. But what I am glad for is that I was surrounded by people who care about me, who knew what to do and who to call, and would never make me feel like a burden for being someone they love and in turn, worry about. I’m glad because I got lucky. Unbelievably so. That day, I worked a 5-hour rush shift in our university store—on the second day of classes, talk about a rush—and I went to a two-hour class that got our early, so I just happened to decide to walk across campus to hang out in the MCC.
Had I not made that decision, I don’t know where I would have been. Had it been 20 seconds later than when I decided to leave that room for class or had I not stopped to talk to friends, I would have been on a very large set of stairs; I would have been set up quite perfectly to fall down all four flights.
I got lucky. And I know it.
So why am I telling you all this, why should it matter to you? Well, other than the fact that you care about my well-being of course, right?
Regardless of whether you know me or if I’m just another person to pop up on your reading list for the day, I say all this to remind you of the things we cannot see coming. I mean, I quite literally did not see and sort of cannot remember this one coming very well at all. In my first post of the year, I looked at 2020 and told myself it was a new decade to make my own. With the start of a natural hair journey and what could have been a clean slate, I wanted to start it off strong.
My life and my brain had other plans. I can’t change that.
I also can’t change the fact that I am no longer allowed to drive, nor do I feel safe being alone or isolated from other people for too long a period of time. I have to ask for help more, I have to let people help me, along with re-adjusting to the bus system that kicked my butt sophomore year.
And the biggest part, something that I think we all struggle with, is that I have to be okay with not knowing. I do not have the answers and I do not know if I will ever have them for what happened, why it happened when it did, why this happened to me… The usual questions we have when it comes to situations like this. Instead, I realize that there is only one thing we are ever guaranteed from the moment we breathe air in this world: once we are alive, the only thing we know for sure is that we will die at some point. That is the only luxury we are given.
We don’t have the answers for what we’re going to do with our lives, who is going to stick around for us, or what paths we should stay away from. Nor do we know when we should ease up on ourselves, when we should push harder, and when we should simply try moving a different direction. I wish we did, really I do. It would be easier.
But I guess “easier” would also make us pretty boring as human beings. It would take away every last bit of what makes us the fragile, emotional, headstrong, creative, passionate, and individualistic people that we are.
Without all these questions and problems and trials and changes, I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty bored with myself. I wouldn’t have a reason to ask for help, to have people to ask in the first place, or any real purpose as to why I care about the things I care about. I wouldn’t need any of that, I wouldn’t have been put in any position where I did.
I wouldn’t have a reason to know that I will be writing for the rest of my life, because I would have nothing to say.
Do you know how oddly sad that is? Not that I wouldn’t have any real struggles or a full consciousness of the world around me, but that something I care about so deeply and share with the people I love wouldn’t actually hold any value in my life anymore.
Maybe in a way, a very small small way, I’m glad that what happened last week did happen. Because yes, the migraines are back full force every day, my mental health isn’t the greatest because it feels like someone took a sledgehammer to my foundation, the exhaustion is unmatched, and my memory is like a pile of mashed potatoes that someone thinks they need to keep mashing… Yet, here’s the thing:
I know that it could have been worse, I could have been worse, and I’m here. That is more than I knew I needed to be thankful for on our first day of classes last Monday. So, I’ll go ahead and put that thankfulness out into the world today.
I will share it with you.
These days, our lives, they aren’t easy. I mean, my problems are very different from my neighbors or the people in Australia or really anyone else in the world. Yet, we are all doing our best to get through what we need to get through and do what we must as we try to keep our heads above water. If we’re not, I’m hoping each of us have people to pick us up and remind us why we keep going anyway.
Lucky for me, I know that I do. And even if I might sit in this for a little while, not quite at my best, they’ll probably sit here with me.
If I’m really lucky, maybe you will too.
As I figure all this out and try to keep everything straight in my head, I ask for your patience and low expectations, now that I’m realizing this is another one of those “before and after’s”—I may never be able to go back to the before and I’ll have to live with that. All I can do is keep moving.
I just hope that you will move with me and maybe share your own stories with me while you do. I would love to hear what has made you who you are today, because it matters. Maybe more than you give it credit for. Trust that.
And happy Friday everyone. I hope to see you next week.