As of Friday, I officially finished my first year of university.
It seems so strange to think that I am actually finished with school. In the middle of April. And I don’t have to go back till September. My brain is so confused, honestly. And I’m still experiencing that residual stress, where I keep thinking there’s work I need to do even though I know there’s not. I’m off the hook. I’m freeeeeeeee! *sails away into the sky*
*descends back to earth* But now is a good time to sit down and think. Reflect. Because this last year has been… wow. A lot less and a lot more than I though it would be. A lot less because it wasn’t as terrifying as I expected. A lot more because it changed me in more ways than I ever anticipated.
The first semester, as you know, went really well. I fell head-over-heels in love with university. I was having the time of my life. The second semester started out the same way. Woo, life was great. And then… mm. Not so much.
I don’t… I don’t really know what happened. Everything was fine up till reading week, in February, and then things just went downhill really fast. Maybe I fell behind, or maybe things actually started piling on, but it became a series of 100m dashes from due date to due date as I struggled to keep up with all the little assignments I had to do. The stress came suddenly, and it came hard. The whole month of March was disgusting. I was starting to count down the days till the end of the semester. I wanted to be done. I was already done, fed up with it all.
So by the time exams rolled around at the beginning of last week, I was absolutely exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Uuuuugh. I was feeling beaten down, worn thin, and utterly demoralized. I just wanted to sleep. That was the word of the week: sleeeeeep.
And at the end of it all, I had a bit of a breakdown. It was a very painful breakdown, lots of tears, the whole ordeal, but it was a very important breakdown. First of all, that breakdown got rid of all the gross feelings that had accumulated during March, so it was much needed emotional detox. Second, it made me realize something very important about myself.
I am stronger.
In a moment of helplessness, I confessed to myself that I was afraid of going back to how I felt in high school, going back to feeling like everything was wrong. But in a moment of courage, I reminded myself that I’m not who I was a year ago. I am stronger.
The first semester of university was important because it made me braver, surer of myself. I found new independence. I realized I was capable of great things and found pride in myself. It was a fantastic adventure, one which allowed me to become a better person while having a hell of a lot of fun.
But the second semester was the part of the adventure where things stop being fun. Suddenly, the danger is real. Suddenly, the hero is deciding that she really wants to go home and forget about adventuring. It was the darker half of the adventure that leads up to the boss battle at the end of the road.
That was the part of the adventure that was either going to make me or break me.
Thank the gods it didn’t break me.
Well, it nearly broke me. It broke me down, but it didn’t destroy me. It made me stronger. It forced me to find a part of myself that was strong enough to endure the stress. It forced me to find my inner steel. I made it through. I made it through and came out alive and now I have new strength to draw upon.
Strength I’m going to need for the boss battle.
I wish I could say final exams were the boss battle, but unfortunately it looks as though they were the mini-bosses. The henchmen. The real boss battle is set to take place this summer. I’ve been applying desperately to different summer jobs but the only place I’ve actually been accepted is at a factory. A factory. The pay is great but the work itself… terrifies me.
Ohhh, the past few days have been a game of ignorance. Ignoring the fact that I have to sign the job offer on Thursday. Ignoring the fact that I’m soon going to be doing shift work for the next four months. Ignoring the fact that I’m so damn scared that I won’t be able to handle it. Ignoring, ignoring, ignoring. I’m trying to enjoy the few days I have left.
But there have been a few times these past few days when the ignorance just hasn’t worked. The fear, the anxiety–it kicks in full force, making me doubt myself. Making me doubt that I’m going to make it through the summer without absolutely losing it. And it makes me even more anxious, because I haven’t doubted myself like this in a while.
It’s funny, though, because I’m torn between two states of mind. A part of me wants to do this, wants to go through hell and back just to prove she can, and that part is not daunted by a mere factory job. But there is another part, just as strong, that wants to turn around and go home. She wants nothing to do with any of this. She wants to curl up in a ball beneath the stars and keep herself safe and give up on this awful quest. And it’s a tug of war between them, to see which one comes out on top each day.
Is it sad that I’ve only been out of school for a few days and I already want it to be September again?
I really don’t know what I’m going to do, to get through this summer. The fear is gnawing at me. Maybe it will end up being like university, where I do all this worrying for nothing. One can always hope, I suppose.
I’m sure I’ll end up crying, somewhere along the way. The crying hurts, but that’s where I learn the most about myself. And when all my tears are spent, when the scared part of me has exhausted herself–that’s when the strong, dauntless part rises up to protect her. That’s when I find my strength.
You can fight even if you’re afraid.
You can be strong even through your tears.
You can have faith even when you’ve lost sight of hope.
These are all lessons I’m learning. Lessons I’m trying to live up to. These lessons are the faith that I’m clinging to, the faith that I’m relying on to carry me through to the other side.
So why all the Legend of Zelda pictures? Because Link, Zelda, Sheik, Impa–they all inspire me. They inspire me to rise to the challenge, defy the odds, and destroy all enemies who dare stand in my way. They inspire me to protect what I love, even if it happens to be myself. They inspire me to always find the strength to keep going.
If you can’t find hope, sometimes you have to make your own.
This will be a difficult boss battle, that much is certain, but I will have to prove to be a difficult adversary. I will have to prove myself, prove my mettle. One way or another, I have to do this. It is my quest. I am its champion.
What quest must you embark upon?
May you rise to the occasion and endure all the boss battles that come your way.