Week 14

WORD OF THE DAY: arc-en-ciel= rainbow

Well, here we are, friends. It’s finally my last week in Paris. I won’t say that I don’t know how I made it to this point, because that cliché statement doesn’t hold any merit for me. Time passes, whether we want it to or not; it’s what we do with ourselves that determines for us, and for us alone, whether it was time well spent.

This has been one of the hardest years of my life. It flung me into a world of loss that until now, was fortunately a stranger to me. This year taught me independence on a scale that sleep away camp and regular college could never begin to teach me. I’ve met some pretty incredible people this year, some of whom I know I will most likely never see again, and together we’ve forged a path for ourselves in a way that’s only really possible through great change.

Let me break it down for you. Have you ever heard the expression, “sink or swim”? Well, it’s a little bit like that. Choosing to go to school in a foreign country is, I would say, akin to throwing yourself into the deep end of a pool. You leave behind the familiarity of the pool deck, your home, for something where you have far weaker footing. You may flounder, for a moment or longer, but eventually you learn how to tread because there is no other option. You learn how to tread, and you do it on your own because you’ve left your friends behind on that dock.

Once you can paddle around for a bit, you find new people also fighting to stay afloat. Together, you go from treading water to learning how to swim.

And eventually, you grow tired from the water. Now comes the task of returning to shore. Your new swimming friends all must return to different docks around the pool; you must find your dock all on your own. You finally pull yourself out of the pool and onto your dock, weary, but strong. Your new friends have all found their docks as well, and they all seem so far away.

But when you turn around, you find the friends you left behind to get in the water in the first place. They seem different, older and with experiences that you weren’t a part of. You know that they’ve changed, for better or for worse. You hope they can see just how much you’ve changed too.

From time to time, you’ll think back fondly on your time in the pool, reminiscing the heart-pounding moment you decided to take the plunge. Perhaps you’ll get back in the pool someday; you are, after all, now a very competent swimmer. For now, though, you’re content to be back on solid ground.

Except now, that ground doesn’t seem so solid anymore. It wavers underneath your feet. Those you were close with before entering the pool suddenly feel so much farther away.

In those moments, I urge you to look out to your friends, on distant docks. Look and see how they struggle to find their footing as well. While everyone must find their footing on their own docks, you can take solace in knowing that you’re all struggling.

You took that initial plunge into the deep end of the pool and survived; I know you can do the same now that you’re back on the dock.

À bientôt,

-E.

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