Months of planning and prep and getting all your ducks in a row won’t prepare you for the colossal loss of your old life.
Sure, you’re heading towards the unknown. Hell, these aren’t even uncharted waters — you’ve been here before! In a way, you’re going back to a life you’ve known before.
But it’s different. Because you’re a different person now.
Like your vocabulary has expanded — you know how to identify your feelings a little better. You’ve learned how to draw your boundaries a little stronger, and when people try to cross them, you know how to push back a little harder. You’ve learned that speaking up for yourself isn’t self-indulgent; it’s a goddamn right.
And you’re still learning. Like how to be kinder to yourself and allowing yourself to feel all the emotions. You don’t have to apologize to other people for crying. It’s ok. It’s also okay to have your own political convictions. And it’s incredibly ok to say “NO I WILL NOT DEBATE YOU” because as Laurie Penny writes, thinking that you can change someone’s mind by debating them is a lot like teaching a goat to dance — the goat will not dance and you’ll end up pissing him/her off.
So that means realizing that certain relationships have limits. You are incredibly lucky to have relationships with people where you can be unapologetically you and they will love you no matter what. For the sake of some relationships, you will have to bite your tongue repeatedly because 1) you don’t have to debate them (see above) and 2) going into the same argument and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
Even though you’re returning to a place you called home for most of your life, these are big changes. You want this and you’ve been looking forward to this. But you’re also saying good bye to a path you thought was going to be a forever direction. And you’re closing a door on a career you’ve been thinking about since undergrad, when you’d occasionally skip classes to watch The West Wing on Bravo (before you bought the DVD box set and eons before Netflix did everyone a favor and streamed them). Ghost ships. This is a loss and you’re allowed to grieve. Not giving yourself a chance to sit and feel everything is just delaying the inevitable.
In a few months, the dust will settle and you will get your bearings. You will look back on the initial months and wonder why you fought it. Things are not perfect, but everything is okay and that will do for now.
Originally published on September 28, 2018 at Alwaysatodds.com.