The Price We Pay To Feel

Hannah Phalen


December 3, 2014

“And you find some way to survive… and you find out you don’t have to be happy at all to be happy you’re alive. Day after day, give me clouds and rain and gray. Give me pain if that’s what’s real- it’s the price we pay to feel.”*

A focus of what we have learned through our training is the importance of telling more than “single stories.” For those of you who have been looking at the pictures and videos I have been posting online, those would be single stories.

Think about it, the pictures only capture the good things. I only pull out a camera to capture beautiful scenery or fun times.

This year is not a vacation. It is my life; I am living here fully immersed, going to work four times a week and Spanish class too. I’m living and passing all my time with people I had never met and constantly trying to speak a language I had only spoken in a classroom setting before I got here. I can’t immediately call my best friend whenever I feel down. I can’t hug my boyfriend or have a Desperate Housewives marathon on Netflix with my sister. I don’t have the Spanish words or the desire to try to explain to the people I see every day. I don’t even have an iPod because it was stolen so all I have to work with are my own thoughts. I function. The negative emotions always pass, and while they’re there I’m still happy to be feeling them.

I don’t have to be happy to be happy; I am alive and exactly where I am.

I am more grateful for my emotions than I ever have been. I spend a lot of time feeling extremely excited and some time feeling lonely, frustrated, or exhausted. My brain is constantly processing thoughts at a pace I have no choice but to keep up with, in a language I am still learning.

My time here has sparked endless burning questions in me, and I am more excited for college than I ever would have been if I went directly after high school. I look forward to having those questions answered, to studying abroad, to learning about subjects that fascinate me.

“Day after day, we find the will to find our way.”*

I’m finding my way. I’m grateful for every emotion I feel and every conversation I get through and understand. I think about my life differently and have so much more motivation to make my life into what I want it to be. I would not trade this year to be anywhere else.

*Light, Next to Normal

Hannah Phalen