Growth, prosperity, redirection, fear and new beginnings.
If you were to ask me to describe 2021 in a few words, that’s what I would say. Last year encompassed an abundance of hope and anticipation as I watched my dreams manifest into a reality. I took leaps of faith that I never thought I could endure and braced myself for a whole new future. But what I truly never saw coming was my ability to flourish in a new environment that I would eventually come to call my home.
Have you ever seen one door of your life close and unexpectedly see an even better one open? For me, the door reluctantly closed on the day of my high school graduation, when I walked across the stage to receive a well-earned diploma. After 10 years of developing close relationships with like-minded peers, the time had come to part ways. Upon reflection, I realized that it was time to step outside of my comfort zone and pursue the future that I had worked so hard for. For some of us, we were traveling hundreds of miles to face an unknown future. For others, like myself, we traveled twenty minutes down the road only to discover something that I had been missing my whole life–a place that held the hopes and dreams of the future, a place that I had been praying to find ever since I was a little girl.
No one said the journey would be easy. Transitioning from a small, private high school in Fairfield County, CT to becoming a freshman at a secular university is not something I took lightly. The first time I stepped foot on campus was a day I will never forget. I instantly found a peace I didn’t know I was missing; I knew in my heart that I had found a home in which I would spend the next four years.
My high school experience was unlike many in a multitude of ways. I attended a private Christian school that emphasized the need for spiritual maintenance and Evangelism. The unique community I surrounded myself with was hard to walk away from. I had spent 10 years of my life worshiping, praying and growing spiritually with people that cared for me during some of the hardest times in my life. My friends were my safety net, my teachers my mentors. Leaving that part of my life behind to start anew sparked a sense of anxiety and unrest in my heart. I was about to embark upon a journey that would change my life and enter a whole new environment that was the polar opposite from where I had been. The only thing I knew I could trust was my faith in God and knowing that I would find peace in His plan for my life, wherever it would take me.
Unbeknownst to many during this time, I was crippled by anxiety and grief due to the events of the previous year. In January of 2020, I lost my best friend. My grandmother had lost her life to a massive heart attack. She was my confidant, my protector and my greatest friend. Losing her meant losing a part of me that I never thought I could live without. Her unexpected death caused my family an infinite amount of anxiety and fear of the future, as we doubted our ability to move forward without a stable foundation. My grandmother was the glue that held our family together, and without her, the very foundation of our family might be lost.
Two months after my grandmother’s passing, the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of our grief-stricken world, my family had to adjust to the hardships that our country would face due to the pandemic. As millions of other families tried to adapt and survive the unknown, my family continued to grieve the loss of a life that was once ours.
The start of 2021 was a chance at redemption, not only for me, but for my family and friends that were grieving the loss of their lives before the pandemic. It was a clean slate that would allow us to truly start anew. Even though the feelings of anxiety and doubt still lingered, we were somehow able to push forward. After having endured so much hardship and death within the last year, it was time to birth the start of a better future.
I’m still learning; I’m not perfect, nor do I know what lies ahead for me. I have learned so much about myself over the last few years, having endured so much hardship and loss. I have learned about my ability to grow and change every day, and my potential to succeed and create a promising future for myself. With the help of my Savior Jesus Christ, I have picked myself up after having been knocked down by life’s greatest tragedies, and for that I am immensely grateful.