The Year of Lasts…and Firsts

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Today, was the first day of my senior year of college. Woah. Say what. Honestly, that doesn’t even seem possible but, as EVERYONE on Facebook keeps reminding me. It is possible. It is real. It is here.

With your senior year (both high school and college) I think there is this constant feeling of this is the last. This year I will have my my last first day of school at Luther, my last Christmas at Luther as a student, it is my last chance to be an RA, etc. etc. I feel completely bombarded by this sense that I have to be completely appreciative of everyday I have here at Luther because they are my lasts.

But today was also an important day because I sat down with an advisor and discussed my plans for next year. More specifically, we talked about my Fulbright application and my deep desire to teach English in Eastern Europe after I graduate.

In reflecting on that conversation and my last first day of school, I realized that this year is also going to be filled with firsts. And that is the cyclical nature of our lives. We have lasts but those always lead to firsts, and firsts are new opportunities.

So I am going to try and remember that this year, which will be filled with lasts that are going to be sad (tears will be shed…that I can promise), will also be filled with firsts and exciting new prospects. For all the rest of the Seniors out there, I hope that we can celebrate both our lasts and our firsts together.

Here’s to a new year. Bring it on.

Home

Earlier this summer, a friend and I were talking about the concept of home. He explained that he has multiple homes. That when he is in one, that feels like home, and when he is in the other that feels like home. His homes span different countries, speak different languages, etc. They are different but each place is uniquely home for him. I was so surprised that he was able to find home in places that were so different.

I understand what he was talking about now. This summer has completely redefined the concept of home for me. (*cliché alert*) Home is truly not about the place, it is about people who love you and accept you for who you are. Home is where I can be fully Betsy and people will love me for my good traits and my bad ones. Also, I think it is important to point out that home is where people will feed you J.

So, I have my childhood home in Eau Claire, my Luther home in Decorah, Oslo was home for a little bit, and now I have pieces of home spread across the world. I have parts of home in France, Ukraine, Norway, Bosnia, Armenia, the Maldives, Ethiopia, Serbia, Kosovo, and so many other places.

Part of growing up is learning how to make any place a home. How to adjust oneself to feel at home in a new place, whether that new place is down the street or halfway across the world. It gives me hope that I was able to easily make myself a home in Oslo. I proved to myself that I can do it, I can find home, and comfortableness in other places. This is great because a year from now, I will have to make a new place home again, and the fact that it happened so easily this summer, relieves a little of my anxiety about that transition.

So now, I am returning to my Luther home. Back to school, back to reality, back to the people who know me and love me. While Luther has been home for me for three years I think that there will be a recalibration period. Where I will have to adjust again, make Luther my home again…I will keep you all updated on that process.

 

The Fawcett European Adventures-Explained in One Photo

Four years ago, my parents gave me the biggest gift they have EVER given me. They allowed me to get on a plane and travel to three countries on a school trip. In the most cliché way, my eyes were opened. My world was 10 times bigger. And I wanted more…I wanted to see more places, meet more people, and experience more things. For this experience (and everything else they have done for me) I can never repay them.

From that first trip, I knew that I wanted my parents to have the same chance to see more of the world, just like they had given me that chance. So, when I got the Peace Scholarship, I told them that this was our chance. That they had to come and we had to travel together. And that is why this trip has been so amazing. Because I get to share the places that I have been and the experiences I have had with them.

Now I am not going to go into a long monologue about everything we have done. See Facebook for that. But I do want to talk about this one photo my mom took a few days ago in London. The photo below PERFECTLY sums up our family interactions on this long trip.

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Behind the camera, we have my mom. My mom is an EXPERT at documenting our trip. She is always taking pictures. Sometimes, Abby and I get annoyed with it. “No mom,” we say “we don’t want to take another family photo.” But here is the thing. I am already so grateful for the pictures she has taken; the moments she has documented. Many pictures that I rolled my eyes at are already cherished (example: the picture this whole blog post is written about :)).

On the left we have my dad. In this picture, dad is sitting, watching the world from the edge of the fountain. Watching people walk back and forth across the square, commenting on little things he finds interesting.  I love this about my dad. He is very easy going and go with the flow. In every sense, he has been the calming one on this trip. The only thing I would change about him in this picture is that I would have him holding some food. He is my fellow adventurous eater. He and I like to find unique food options, and then if I don’t like it he can always be counted on to finish it up.

On the right, is Abby. The older we get, the more I appreciate the little sister that I used to fight with every moment. I love her in this picture because she is in her element. Taking a selfie, trying to make me laugh. Abby can always make me laugh and not long after this was taken, I think she did succeed. Abby also has an amazing talent to take mundane things and make them beautiful. From taking selfies, to explaining artwork she learned about in class, she has impressed me at every turn with the way she sees the world.

And then you have me. You can see from the picture that I am intently studying a map, probably figuring out how to get everyone to the next place, in the quickest amount of time. Not long after my family arrived in Oslo, I was deemed the family tour guide, which has been stressful at times (perfectionism creeps into all parts of life). But it has also been so fun. I love figuring out maps, and public transportation. I enjoy staying up a little later than everyone else and strategizing where to go, when, and how to get there. AND to top it all off, I only got us lost once (even though my dad claims it was twice).

Now, we are in France. I can’t really believe that my family has only been here a week and a half. We have seen so much, walked way too many miles, and taken a few too many family selfies. This continues to be the trip of a lifetime.

In three days, my summer adventure will come to an end. I will not only be back in the States, but I will also be back at school. Back to normal life. But for now, I am going to ignore that reality. I can deal with it on the plane ride home.

 

 

 

My Weaknesses are My Strengths Out of Control

I have been wanting to write a blog on the following topic for a few weeks. Blogging and writing for me has turned into a really important exercise. It has been good for me to process, to reflect, and to work through what I am thinking and experiencing. Writing has become therapeutic. And that is why I’ve wanted to write this specific blog.

To start with, something that not very many people know about me is that I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression during my first year of school at Luther. I had struggled with both anxiety and depression since at least middle school but didn’t get help until it had completely spiraled out of control. But don’t any of you worry (especially you mom, I know you’re reading this). I got the help that I desperately wanted and now I am doing much better. I saw a quote the other day that perfectly sums up how I see my anxiety: “my weaknesses are simply my strengths out of control.” Because of my anxious brain, I love people differently, I am more sensitive to people’s emotions, I am a better student (aka perfectionist). My anxiety is a strength. Not a weakness.

With that being said, for the first time in over 2 years, this summer I really struggled with my anxiety and in turn I started feeling the depression creep back into my life. I couldn’t concentrate on school, I didn’t want to be around people, I lost my appetite, and I was scared. What was I going to do, in Norway, by myself if I ‘got bad again’?

But when I reflect on the summer, I realize that I proved to myself just how much I have healed since my freshman year of college. I have had dark moments this summer. I have been sad. I have been lonely. I have felt utterly worthless. But in spite of my thoughts I was able to force myself out of my room, into the arms of people who cared for me. Instead of wallowing in my thoughts, allowing them to take over every part of me, I fought back. And in my opinion I have won.

I could not have done it alone. To those of you who I shared my pain with this summer, thanks for listening, without judging me and loving me. To Alexa and Payton, your support from across the pond was palpable, I still can’t believe how you both knew how to say the right thing, no matter what. To Lilith and Ksenia, thanks for always bringing me food and hugs when I needed them. Jasmin and Jauza, thanks for always distracting me and making me laugh. To our “Lillehammer group” you guys are the real MVPs.  Thanks for making me put on makeup and go out…even when I REALLY didn’t want to.

The best part about this story for me? Is that I have proved I can do it. I can pack up my life in small suitcase (some would argue my suitcase was not small but I would ignore them), get on a plane and go halfway across the world and still survive! And it is a good thing that I proved this to myself because I am hoping to do it again. I got a big life to live and my anxiety is not going to stop me.

I know that some people reading this blog (haha they probably won’t read until the end) are going to roll their eyes at another person talking about their struggle with mental illness. And I will just say right now, I don’t want to hear it. It has taken a lot for me to finally write this down and now that it is written (and soon to be published), I feel great. I feel strong. And I feel like I am in control. I am not ashamed of who I am and what I have experienced. So don’t be a party pooper and keep your judgements to yourself J

New blog coming soon about the Fawcett Family’s European Adventures. Get excited folks. I have got some pretty great tales of first time European travelers…and even better selfies.

Change Sucks.

So I am one of those people who sucks at change. Like a lot. I like routine. I like to know what I can expect. I’ll admit it…I like to be in control.

The last fews years when I have gone from camp to school or school to  home or really anytime that I have packed things into a suitcase and gone from one place to another, I have really struggled. All I usually want to do is climb into my bed with Netflix or go for long drives in the car screaming to my favorite songs, or just let myself cry and be sad. But I would say that I have gotten better at these transitions. I have my ‘wallowing in sadness’ time down to about a day or two depending on how severe the transition is.

So here I am, faced with another one of these transitions. This time though I don’t think I am going to get over it in a day or two. This transition is different because I am different. This summer has fundamentally changed who I am, how I see and interact with the world, how I think, everything seems so different. And I will be honest, I do not know what this means for me and for my life when I get back home. This confusion is also making me a crabby travel companion (so shout out to Mom, Dad, and Abby for putting up with me-true unconditional love).

But, here are a few things that I have been able to figure out:

To my people at home, please don’t get annoyed with me. This is your warning. I will talk incessantly about this experience…at least for the first few weeks. Just let me do it. It is how I cope. I talk. A lot. You can maybe help the process go a little bit quicker if you ask lots of questions :).

To my new friends, thank you. It sounds so lame but you have proven to me time and time again that friendships created beyond all of the cultural, ethnic, and language barriers are some of the strongest friendships that can be forged. I am telling myself that if we can overcome those awkward first days we can overcome some separation from each other. I could (and might if I can get through it without completely breaking down) write a blog post about how each of you have changed me individually.

And for myself, I am constantly saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” And my personal favorite currently, “it is not goodbye, it is see you later.”