May 18, 2014 was the day I officially graduated from college and I won’t lie, it was really hard to get to this point.
I was recently telling someone that “Cancer sucks. There isn’t much I can do medically, besides take my pills, exercise, and go to my appointments- there is no reason to sit around and mope if there isn’t much I can do about it. The real thing that sucks about cancer is the constantly changing emotional and social support”. I have a really fantastic family, a good group of friends, and a supportive boyfriend- but holy cow did I not see the drama coming. I really felt offended by the way some people responded to my cancer. I know, I know. It’s a scary thing to hear and people respond differently to bad news. It was just interesting to see what kind of person you are based on whether you took in the cancer news as my tragedy, your’s, or our’s. It’s not like I could really plan the “perfect moment” to tell people. Cancer sits with me a lot. I feel lucky enough to be young and healthy when they caught it, but really freaked that it had been inside me growing for years.
My apartment wasn’t much of a home. Too much drama, but instead of getting into how two people see and appreciate the world on a whole different spectrum, and the serious lack of respect some people have, I’ll sum it up as this: I can sleep at night knowing that each day I work hard to be a good person. I make choices and listen to others, but I’m also learning to listen to myself and do what’s right for me and those who I respect. I have my strengths and my weaknesses- but I accept them as my whole, imperfect, unique self. I don’t feel like I need to win a popularity contest and I certainly don’t think it’s right to always have to be the best. Everyone deserves to bask in their own personal victories without someone else feeling the need to overshadow them. My senior year might not have been my favorite college year, but it was very insightful experience on dealing with people who do not and will not ever try to see the world through any perspective but their own. It’s been very tough on my patients but I am happy to leave this apartment knowing what kinds of people I need in my life and the kinds of people I am very ready to let go of.
On top of that, my social circle has been constantly changing. People are in, people are out, people up and quit. I’m glad I know who my true friends are but it stinks when you thought you knew someone only to have them blindside you with something completely out of character. “Everyone will eventually disappoint you, forgiveness is based on whether they are worth it or not”. I thought some people were worth it and wanted to give them a second chance- guess I wasn’t. It stinks, but its life.
Throughout some very trying times and realizations, it’s nice to know I have a lot of people still in my corner. Apart from my amazing family network and the ever supportive neighbors, I just want to acknowledge some of the amazing people who have helped me out in getting to where I am today:
- Allie and Jamie: The best two roommates!! I had so much fun living with you two! I was really lucky to make respectful roommate relationships that turn into good friendships.
- Stephanie: You are an amazing person. You come here without a winter jacket and you’ll leave here with all new friends, memories, and experiences. I was so impressed by your sense of adventure and your fearlessness to explore your new home. You are bright, respectful, and so passionate about the things you love. I loved taking you to your first yoga class! You came into my life at a very perfect time. I don’t think I could have made it another semester in my apartment without your kindness.
- Lisa: It was really cool how you handled everything this summer. I came to you looking for a day of normalcy and you are the one person who responded with the kindness I needed. You have really become a pillar in my support team and I appreciate you and all that you have been through. I’m super excited to do our Spartan Race together and to keep in touch always. “Friendships are like stars, your don’t always need to see them to know that they are there”.
- Jess: Out of all the friends up here in Burlington, it makes me feel really great you’ve been reading and staying on this journey with me.
- Alex: I was really afraid to call you this summer. I wasn’t sure if telling you I had cancer would scare you away, make you feel sorry for me, or bring you closer to me. You stepped up and really helped me out. Researching my surgery and my treatments, making sure my fever went down before bed, and propping up my pills when I couldn’t sleep. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have come back to school without you. Whenever I had rough day, it was nice to know I could come find you and you’d make me feel better. You have been an amazing friend and when I describe you to others I always tell them “I need more friends like him”.
I would like to consider myself a “learning enthusiast”. Not so much acidemically speaking, more about the world and life in general. Through my adventures and relationships I have learned plenty, but the following seem to have more merit:
- True friends can take what they dish out, get mad, forgive, and still be there for you. They respect you when you stand up for yourself and still have your back even when they don’t agree.
- Don’t forget the small victories.
- It’s important to tell people your limits. Whether they want to recognize you’re only human is their problem.
- Feeding yourself is sometimes the best thing you can do.
- Wool socks and layering are essential for a Vermont winter.
- It’s better to live with someone you don’t know or hardly know, as opposed to a good friend. There is a risk for some weird habits, but at least there is a mutual respect. If you live with a close friend, its harder to speak your truth without backlash unless they really understand and respect you.
- Always go to class even if you don’t take notes, you might have a cool surprise guest that leaves you with more knowledge than the entire semester.
- Some people feel the need to establish their dominance in order to feel important. They need you to feel smaller than them in order to get through the day. Try not to take it personally.
- If you force respect to your face, you’ll never get it behind your back.
- Every once in a while its okay to to feel sorry for your self, but once you start throwing pity parties several times a week no one is going to feel bad for you. They’ll probably just end up avoiding you.
I think the biggest lesson I have learned and hope others learn is:
Always receive others with kindness, for we are all struggling with our own private battles. Whether it be depressions, classes, finding yourself, or even thyroid cancer. If you treat others with kindness, who could make someone’s day and encourage them to keep going.
As for what’s next? I don’t really know. Looking for jobs, looking for myself some more. I’m nervous but I’m not too worried.