One of the toughest things for me on this trip has been balancing my emotions. A gap year to a whole new country is an emotionally exhausting experience in and of itself. Every day I experience a type of emotional roller-coaster that I seldom experienced before embarking on this journey. I fade in and out of moments of extreme gratitude and intense longing for friends and family back home. I do my best to combine these, realizing that I miss all these people while still being grateful for the opportunities I’m having in country. I am truly grateful for everything that has been giving to me, and even more grateful for everything that I have been able to accomplish, because it is those experiences which stretch me as an individual, and it is how I respond which determines who I am.
One of my best friends back home has just left school because of depression. It’s ultimately the right choice for him to leave, but it just has me really has me in my feelings. It’s so crazy because he is the last person I’d expect to have this sort of issue. He is an amazing student at an incredible school. He is liked by everyone, and has excellent relationships with his friends and girlfriend. From the outside it seems like he has his whole life headed in the right direction. It’s just hard to think that no matter how much I love him or hope he gets better, there’s nothing I can do for him, especially from so far away. On top of that, one of my favorite teachers whom I went on many school trips with, and had super fun barbecues after graduation is now in the hospital. She had a tear in a major artery in her heart, and It’s unclear what the recovery process looks like but her son has messaged a couple of her favorite students to let us know that she’s not doing well. These tragic occurrences left me feeling really helpless. On one hand I should be grateful for my physical and mental health, but I can’t help feel pain for these people I love.
My whole life I’ve worked hard to be emotionally strong, to be able to handle whatever life throws at me. I truly believe if death looked me straight in the eyes, I would welcome it with warmth and kindness. I am prepared for anything, except if something were to happen to someone I love back home. That is one thing I am not, and might never be prepared to handle. My host family and apprenticeship and my community immersion has gone so well and I’m making so many friends, it seems a little disrespectful to the universe to be sad. Balancing emotions is tough. It can be strange to feel such conflicting emotions simultaneously, but as long as I accept my emotions and realize that everything I feel is natural, I will be able to continue to grow and develop as an individual.