When I rang 2017 in, I wasn’t super excited for the New Year. I was still suffering from the mono that had taken over the past two years of my life, and I didn’t have much to look forward to besides surgeries, being at home with my parents, getting my health back to normal, and trying to remember my identity. The past few months have been really hard work.
Nineteen, you were what some may call a disaster. Within one year I lost my grandfather and my dog, my health had completely gone out the window, and with it almost every single one of my friendships (turns out, when you can’t get out of bed most days, people find you boring), and I took a Medical Leave of Absence from Villanova. During my leave I figured out SOME of my health problems, had two surgeries, and was required to see my psychiatrist and psychotherapist regularly.
Nineteen, you taught me pain. When my body hurt so much I didn’t want to move. When my throat pain had me bent over the toilet for hours on end dry heaving and vomiting. When my sinus pressure was so bad I couldn’t eat or sleep or cry but instead just lay with my face in a hot pad praying and begging for the hurting to end.
You also taught me loss. When you ripped my heart out. Twice. When it felt like there was a boot pressing down on my chest, and I found myself gasping for air but not being able to reach it. When my world was collapsing and exploding all at once, and I had no idea which way was up.
And lastly, loneliness. When you took all my bridges and burned them beyond what my hands can now repair.
But, through all of this, the most important thing you taught me, Nineteen, was love. Firstly, love for myself and my body. But love for others and those who love me comes in close second. And let’s not forget love for life. And love for whatever comes my way and being able to get through it.
So, Twenty, I just want to let you know something:
I will conquer you.
Twenty, I will grab the reins of my health and hold them with steady (and now strong!) arms. Paying conscious attention to what my body tells me, I will adjust my lifestyle choices accordingly.
My mind will not be my enemy, Twenty. I will listen to my demons, but I will not let them defeat me. Rather, I will use the tools I have developed and the help I still receive to destroy them.
I will hold my people close to my heart, Twenty, because my people are what got me through hell and my people are who I owe everything to. I will be dedicated to my people, Twenty, and loyal. You will not break me and my people, Twenty. I dare you.
I will allow myself happiness, Twenty. I will put myself first, and I will not fear my life anymore. Because I trust in the Lord, Twenty, and I will not be shaken.