Breathing Space: I Can’t Believe It’s Been a Whole Year

I’m on winter break now, and if I’m being honest, it’s the first time in a long while I’ve actually taken a step back and thought about things, and taken the time to breathe.

I took on too much this year.

It kills me to admit it, but I think it’s true.

I take AP and honors classes. I’m involved at school. I do sports. I write. I read. I’m (probably overly) involved in more than a few social action initiatives, and my youth group on top of that. I walk the fine line of having a high school social life.

This year was supposed to be a fresh start from last year, a golden year.

Instead, I had the semester from hell.

I started this blog over a year ago. It’s weird to realize that—it feels both like I started writing it just yesterday, and like it has been a part of my life forever—but hey, WordPress even sent me a little email congratulating me on 365 days of blogging.

This time last year, I was freaking out about passing physics, and I was doing physical therapy for an injury I didn’t want to deal with. The biggest non-academic worry in my life was that I might not stay in touch with all of my friends from my old school, and the biggest overall worry was that physics would be the end of me.

Now…

I’m freaking out about grades, again. Slightly less so, because finals are over now, and I really don’t want to have to deal with anything like that until I have to. I’m still doing physical therapy, but I’m also doing a winter sport. The trouble is, I’ve worked myself to the point where I’ve been going to bed after midnight every night, and I’ve been incredibly stressed out… and it turns out that when you do that, injuries don’t really heal. And that’s an issue.

I’m still in touch with friends from my old school. Not all of them. But I’ve learned that it’s okay to let some people go. And the people I’m still in touch with are some of my closest friends. In fact, a couple of nights ago, I was in a very not-good place in terms of stress, and the semester being over, and more stress, just because I sort of forgot how NOT to be stressed out, and so I called one of those friends. He picked up immediately, and then proceeded to talk to me for an hour, managing to calm me down more than anyone had managed to all semester. But not all of my friends are that easy to get in touch with. I was on Facebook chat with a girl who is practically my personality twin. I love her an awful lot. But we never get to talk. Which sucks. But that seems to be the way it’s been.

One of my best friends in the whole wide world, not my oldest friend but certainly one of the closest, moved three time zones away from me. I haven’t seen her since then, and we’ve only talked on the phone a few times. She’ll be back in town for a week or so, and I can’t even begin to put into words how much I’m looking forward to it.

My two oldest and most consistent friends are my enduring everything. And I love them more than I can say. But that’s not even mentioning the rest of the group, who I call and text when I need something, and they do the same, because we are all, together, forever and always. But we almost never see each other. It’s been two years since we all went to school together, and I’ve seen everyone together maybe once. Not even that many times.

It’s been hard. And this year it’s been especially hard.

I worked myself to the point where I’ve gone to bed shaking with exhaustion, messed up my grades in a couple of places, and gotten really angry at people who’ve done nothing wrong. And I’ve done it so much that I’m at a point where it actually might be easier to keep it going for a year than to drop something.

And then there’s all of the rest that’s happened too. Athletic stress. My general atychiphobia. My dad got pretty seriously hurt in an accident that could have gone so much worse than the way it did.

I’m not saying all of this to be a complaining basket case.

I’m saying it because I have learned one hell of a lot of important things this year too.

Because through all of it, through the bad grades and the late nights, and the days when I felt like crap and there was nothing I could do about it, there were people who were there for me. Who I could talk to and who I know would talk to me. People who could joke around and laugh in the middle of the day and get me to joke around and laugh too.

There were a couple of weeks when I stopped writing.

And there were people who got me back to the point where I could write again.

I’m still healing from what this semester put me through.

But I will heal.

And given that right now it’s Chanuka, I will hold that up like a candle, and I will take the light I have, and use it to light this new hope so that it glows too.

It’s been dark. And it’s been bad. But it will get better, and I know that.

My family has a tradition of burning and planting, where we burn something that represents the bad things that have happened, and then plant something for something good that we want to happen,

This year, I’m going to burn the stress and the worry. And I’m going to plant connection and community. Because I don’t think I’d have made it through this semester without the love and support that has come my way, or without the communities that I know I can rely on for a little breathing space.

I’m on vacation, on an island in South Carolina as I write this.

It’s dark out, I actually got a decent night’s sleep a few nights in a row, there’s nice music playing, and I’ve indulged myself in rich food and a teen drama TV show.

I’m taking a break for once in my life. No work, except the creative stuff I actually want to do.

I would have taken this for granted a year ago.

Not now.

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