12 May, 2016

Not All Who Wander...I'm Lost

It's about time to start this writing process again.

Hello. I'm in Italy. And in a strange turn of events, I have no idea what is going on.

Seriously. I'm so lost.

Let's back up. For my past three years in college, I've been generally on top of things. My grades were good, I maintained two jobs while attending school full time, I did shows, etc. etc.. My last semester spent at Pellissippi changed everything.

First of all, I was in a car wreck over the Christmas holiday. Definitely the worst car wreck in which I have been involved, and hopefully the last. It really screwed me up. Long story short, I pushed myself and pushed myself to continually have my shit together and be "okay." I'm the oldest sister, if I was okay, my sisters could see it was good to heal, and they would soon be okay. I didn't slow down. I didn't take time to heal. I didn't want to think anything was wrong. Turns out, I had swelling in my brain, and because of how hard I was pushing myself, it only got worse, making my healing time longer. I wasn't sleeping. I had PTSD nightmares. I could barely eat. It was a nightmare. On top of all of that, I had a slew of health problems thrown my way. Anaemia. Possible thyroid disease. Finally being medicated for depression. And the really fun part: endometriosis. (Side note: we're not 100% certain on the endometriosis yet, as it is difficult to diagnose and the specialists who can test are about 3 hours from my house. Plus, with my leaving the country, we couldn't get an appointment until I'm back. But my doctor is nearly certain. Yay.) Every two weeks was blood work and tests and doctors visits. I went from a healthy, rarely sick person to an incredibly unhealthy individual.

Because of these health problems, I started having problems in school. I couldn't focus. Being in the classroom was increasingly difficult. I had one particular teacher with no care towards my condition who would offer no help when I asked, so I wound up dropping her class. I couldn't participate in theatre. I was too exhausted, too sick. For the first semester in nearly eight years, I wasn't involved in a single show. I wasn't taking any theatre classes. I wasn't assistant teaching. I still worked in the office, but that's not the same. I truly think taking time off from working in theatre was one of the most difficult things I've had to do to take care of myself. I thrive on the hard work and challenges the theatre throws at me. It's a great emotional outlet. Sure, I still wrote in my journal to get my "art" fulfilment, but nothing compares to theatre.

Though it was immensely difficult to take time away from something I love so much, I believe it to be for the best. I had a bit more free time than usual. Okay, I had a LOT more free time without theatre. I stayed busier than ever, though. I worked more. I studied more. I slept more.  I met a new group of people, instead of hiding away in a group of theatre kids. (Though there's nothing wrong with them. I love you, losers.) I went out on dates with a few different guys. Most of the dates didn't turn into anything, save for one, with whom I have an incredibly weird and fun friendship. A little light in the darkness!

The time off also gave me time to think. This is where I started to get lost. Prior to this last semester, I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was going. I knew my field of study. I knew my university. I was on the path to success! Then I woke up one morning and decided...nope. I don't want that. Well, maybe I do. But I'm not sure anymore. So I decided not to go.

Strange things happened after that. I was offered a job in Hong Kong. I was avidly looking at schools in Germany. I had a friend offer to be my roommate in Texas. I was all over the place. I was frantically scrambling to try and put the shattered pieces of my future together. I have never not known what I was going to do on this drastic of a level. I was always Julianna: The Girl Who Has Her Shit Together.

I am no longer that girl. Sure, parts of me are very well developed and put together, but I no longer have a clear set plan for my future. All I know is what I don't want. What I don't know is what I do want. At least that's a start.

I've always said I'm happiest and feel most alive when I am outside of my comfort zone. I consider myself very lucky to feel this way. I like a challenge. When I take a step back and really examine this situation, I realise I'm exactly where I'm uncomfortable: in not knowing. It forces me to learn new things—literally new survival skills. Part of me has always loved the mystery of the future. I know I can't control it, but I still try. But for now, I must be okay with not knowing.

With that, I have decided to take time off of school. Maybe a semester, maybe a year. I never thought I would do a thing like this. I love school so much, but I think I need to take time to focus on me, and really examine what I want. It will be good for me, I think. I will read for pleasure. I will work. I will travel.

Speaking of travel, as I mentioned, I'm in Italy right now. My current situation is hilariously parallel to what I'm processing in life. I am in a small province of Pisa, in the gorgeous Italian countryside. Really, I wish I could explain how beautiful it is, but that would be impossible. I came here alone. I was graciously offered a place to stay in exchange for volunteer work. I am volunteering at a Buddhist institute. Please let this sink in because I am neither Buddhist, nor do I speak much Italian. (I can say basic phrases and ask for coffee and wine...you know, the important things in life.) Everyone here is Buddhist, and very few of them speak English. This is a completely different culture for me, and I love it. The people I have interacted with so far have been nothing but kind to me, even with our language barrier. These next few days are going to test me in new ways, and I couldn't be happier. I believe I can learn a lot here. I will learn a lot here. I will take in the culture and be happy to do my work. I will have time to think and write and take walks in the countryside. Maybe I'll find some answers. Maybe not. But I cannot sit back and let a learning opportunity pass.

Here's to being lost. Here's to being okay with being lost. Here's to the mistakes I will make in my journey to learn. Here's hoping I'll find my way out. 

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