I am a work in progress

I am a work in progress

It’s been over a year since I graduated college, moved back home, went unemployeed for over half that time, borrowed too much money from my parents, moved to a new city, started a new job, and began this thing called, “adulting.”

It’s been over a year I told myself I would give myself a break from theatre (participating, not seeing), to give myself a chance to understand who I am outside the performing arts.

It’s been a year ago since I really felt like myself.

Maybe it’s my crippling anxiety and depression but let me tell you, nothing prepares you for life outside the bubble that’s college. In college, you’re surrounded by the same people, places, entertainment and expectations. Now, in adulthood, effort to keep friendships is even harder, saving money becomes near impossible and fulfilling life-long aspirations become more of a dream than a promising reality.

Maybe it’s just my journey where I feel this way but seriously, like “Dear Evan Hansen” puts it:

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To put it as eliquently as I can… Adulting is hard, and I’ve learned it can be really lonely.

For one, I’m a social butterfly. Think of it like Tinkerbell: I don’t need attention, I need people in order to live. I enjoy my alone time and doing things by myself but it’s not the same as actively feeling lonely.

I live for the personal connections we make in this world. We’re nothing without the people we hold close to us: family, friends, mentors, coaches, teachers, directors, you name it. Those are the people who make us who we are today. Even that, I haven’t been able to see all those people who mean the most to me as often as I’d like.

But for over a year, I’ve put a lot of what I’ve wanted on the backburner. Any dreams I once had have gone out the window. Any expectations I had for myself and my future have disappeared. I don’t look forward to really much anymore, except when I see a show or the chance I do get to see my friends.

In the beginning of the year, I left my home in Ithaca, in the comfort of my best friends and my family, to move three hours away into the unknown to take this chance. A chance to start over, become someone instead of something.

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It’s been almost seven months and the most exciting thing I’ve done is see almost a dozen shows. I’ve seen my friends in Buffalo, but since I work weekends, it’s a rare adventure now. I’ve seen my friends in Ithaca, but we haven’t all been together since March before I started working. I’ve crossed shows off my list, but I haven’t been a part of the theatrical process since Playground last summer. I have a job that pays decent for what it’s worth, but I’m in a never-ending loop of getting up, going to work and then coming home to sleep.

There’s no excitement. There’s no fire, spark. I don’t really have that purpose in me anymore. I’m lonely, I’m lost, I’m struggling and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

Maybe I haven’t been the best of friend, maybe I haven’t reached out like I usually do, maybe I’ve kept all of these feelings to myself because to me, I just feel like I don’t know how to handle this whole adulthood idea when everyone around me does. I feel like I’m behind everyone who’s much more successful than I am at this point in life.

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I’ve become what I’ve feared the most; a failure. I’m only 24, I know I shouldn’t be feeling this way, but here I am.

Now, I’ve always been behind everyone else my entire life. Newest trend? I got into it after it was a thing. Supposed to be reading at a fifth grade level? Whoops, I’m reading at a first grade level. Discovered a new hit song? Well, it’s been number one for over four weeks now. Should be getting a job related to my field of choice like my friends are? Nope, I’m no where near that.

No matter how hard I try, I am always four steps behind everyone else. I’ve always have, and I’ve grown accustomed to maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

If you’ve kept reading thus far (thank you!), I promise, I’m not here for pity or anything like that. I’ve been feeling like this for quite some time and since speaking from the heart can be the trickest to articulate, I’ve found comfort coming back to my writing. Finding that one security of putting my feelings and thoughts out there that maybe, just maybe, someone else is in the same boat as me. That I can stop feeling like I’m alone in this huge world.

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I’m trying to find that passion within me again, but it’s only getting me so far when I’m stuck living the same reality each day. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, maybe I haven’t really started over like I’ve planned since this whole year began.

I’m an ambitious person, when I have my mind set to something, there’s no changing it. I find that to be one of my best qualities. But when you don’t have anything set as a goal, where do you go? How do you start?

Something has to change. My job? Maybe. My aspirations? Probably. Where I am? I don’t know.

Maybe this is what rock bottom feels like. Well, if I’m at this so-called bottom, I can only go up from here. That’s the first goal, going up!

Hey, look! We’re already making progress.

But a short and lovin’ life, that ain’t so bad

But a short and lovin’ life, that ain’t so bad

Death is scary.

There are only two moments guaranteed in life; the day you’re born and the day you die. The second one is completely decided by fate which cannot be changed, altered or avoided. It’s bound to happen.

But let’s not think about death like that; let’s think of it as moments, memories and success. Here’s a long story to give a base to what I will talk about later in this post.

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In my short life these past 23 years, I’ve lost a few people in my family but were not too close to where I was in a period of grieving. I never had to mourn over someone or something. That changed last August.

My first close death happened last year when I lost my first pet, my little Chihuahua, Bebe.

My parents came to pick me up from my father’s house in February 2007 holding a sky blue blanket with a furry little creature underneath. It was a seven to nine week old puppy with a crooked nose, light brown feet, a white chest and the smallest little ears on an even littler body. She was bought at our local pet store in a typical U.S.A mall where dozens of puppies, most likely, produced puppy mills were kept in cold, white cages hoping to be adopted.  She was so sick that if no one took her she would have been put down before her life could even begin.

Luckily, Bebe’s luck chimed in. From the moment my mom held her, that was it. She was going to be coming home with us, sickness and all!

And we knew going in that she was sick. There was no concrete answer as to why she was always sick. Her being sick didn’t stop us from falling absolutely in love with her. She brought so much joy into our lives for almost 10 years.

She was spoiled rotten every moment of her life, surrounded by so many people who loved her. Bebe had that extra dose of innocence that even if she pooped on the rug, which she did many times, you couldn’t be mad at her for more than three minutes. All of the cuddles on your lap or underneath your neck, as if she was two pounds again, made the darkest days brighter. She was a great companion, listener, pet and sister. But being sick seemed to show its colors towards the end of her life.

May 2017 was when it all began.

Not even hours after arriving home from my senior year (pt. 1) of college, I went out with friends to celebrate the end of the year and them graduating school. I was out for only a couple hours when my poor little Beebs experienced her first, certainly not her last, seizure.

My parents, in a state of confusion and concern, rushed her over to the animal hospital in Ithaca to see what was going on. Nothing came back alarming but her liver numbers were higher than normal.

“Hm…” I thought.

I hugged my baby a little tighter that night. I sat on our love seat in the living room, starring as she sat tiredly in a red blanket where my mom, Kim, usually sits. I starred to make sure she wasn’t going to go into another seizure. Or, was I starring because I was worrying that I was going to forget what she looked like, if that was my last time I’d see her?

I’m not too sure to this day.

She went quick. The summer of 2017 brought many seizures to our little precious soul that was Bebe. She’d be great for four or so weeks and then have severe seizures. I was away at my summer job near school and was only able to visit a couple days out of the month. I couldn’t help or take the pain away.

Luckily, I was there for her final days.

I went home to work for two days and spent all the time I could with Bebe and my parents. Our time was coming to an end.

Aug. 5, 2017, morning.

I was packing to go back to my summer job as I worked that afternoon. I sat on the couch, starring once again at Bebe in her red bed against the window of the living room. I lay down on the hardwood floors next to her and began rubbing her belly like every other day, and began feeling a trembling sense of goodbye. Noticing her crooked nose wetter than usual. Her big doe eyes starring back at me, her small little paw resting gently on my face as she stretched with the force deep within her.

I cried. I cried as I said goodbye, a usual goodbye we shared as I went off to Fredonia, nothing out of the ordinary. A feeling inside of me I can’t describe told me that it was our last goodbye. She cried as I walked out the door into the garage. I couldn’t go back.

Because we both knew.

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Sunday, Aug. 7, 2017.

I was working at my job when my mom called me, telling me that Bebe had one of her worst seizures yet. I began to cry, thinking that I am all the way over in Fredonia while my baby girl was in Ithaca, suffering. My mom called me in the most lifeless tone I have ever heard from her.

There was nothing I could to do. She probably knew, too. It wasn’t looking good but she would keep me up-to-date. That whole night I looked at our photos together, remembering all the beautiful moments we had made.

My parents brought her to Cornell animal hospital where one last seizure occurred. My parents cried as they begged for the doctors to let them, my moms, tend to Bebe one last time. Help her the way they knew how. She was rushed back and put on medicine to ease her system while my parents wept as they began to grieve.

Moments later, they went back with a doctor to a room where Bebe was hooked up to IVs, monitors and other technology. She wasn’t in pain at the moment. My parents coddled her, crying and holding her one last time.

“You can take her home for one last night if you’d like,” one of the doctors said.

If we took her then, she wouldn’t have came back.

So that night, almost midnight, my parents made the bold and selfless decision to put down Bebe. In order for her not to feel anymore pain because we loved her that much to not allow her to live in misery anymore. She didn’t deserve to continue to live in pain. We lost a piece of our family when we put her down. The doctors believe she had cancer in the liver and it spread to her brain.

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It’s been over 10 months now. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t crying while I wrote this.

The first few months were extremely hard, coming home to an empty home when there was a full house. I didn’t hear her long fingernails tapping against the wood floor to the kitchen entrance as I entered the garage door. I didn’t see her tail waging and slouched ears running to me as I came closer into the kitchen. All her fluffies, toys, in a small red bin my the kitchen counter looking over the living room was gone. That sense of home left with her across the rainbow bridge.

So what’s the point of all this? To make you cry and feel? Actually, no. That was not my goal. I was not expecting to be so personal with our loss of Bebe but it leads me to this point.

We all have memories and moments that span over our life broken down into years then months down to our many, many days living on Earth. Memories we hold onto as if they just happened yesterday. Moments we wish we could change. Narratives written in pen instead of pencil. We can’t just think of all the moments we won’t have anymore but rather, we should be thinking about all the memories, moments and laughs that we have with people who have passed.

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We gave Bebe over nine years of memories in a beautiful home, two great mommy owners, a great sister and brother, all the toys to play with, all the chicken she could possibly stuff herself with and the life she was destined not to receive. Instead of the six months she was supposed to have, we stretched that out to another nine.

I have nine years of memories with her. Imagine all the memories and moments other people have and carry in their lives. Everyone is able to look back on their life and say, “I did that. I lived through that.”

We become sad knowing that these people we hold so close to our hearts and important figures in our life won’t be able to have more memories to add to their collection. It’s hard thinking how one day we won’t have those people we love in the physical world. But people are always with us no matter what. Living or have passed.

As I’ve grown older, I have grown less afraid of death. I have accepted that one day I won’t be here anymore, same with my grandparents, parents, brother, my new dog, Jack, and my friends. It’s scary to think about but that shouldn’t stop us from living.

We have to keep living. We are allowed to be sad, hurt, confused and mourn. But we have to find that will to live. That’s what every single person who has passed would want us to do; to keep living.

Death is one sneaky son-of-a-bitch but I plan on taking the approach of embracing every single day – even if it was the most god-awful day of my life – with open arms. I will love a little harder and hate less. I will say, “thank you” and “how are you?” more often. I will make sure no one is alone. I will hug everyone I know a little bit tighter when I say, “See you later.” I will try not to rush moments anymore, in order to embrace them for what they are.

No one deserves to be forgotten or alone. Ever.