A year and four months later, here I am. I virtually disappeared from this blog, and in a moment I’ll explain the many reasons why. The last time I wrote a post on silverymoonlight, I was getting ready to depart on the most eventful and meaningful journey of my life thus far. When I came home, I was forever changed. The year that followed afterward was filled with loss, sadness, heartache, longing, bad luck, and confusion. I lost myself in 2017. I lost who I was. My core identity. And I grew up. Now that so much time has passed, I can see how it was for the better, but some things I’ll never fully understand. That’s just life, I guess.
I never even wrote while I was living in Macedonia, which is a shame. However, I was living my best life. I was incredibly happy; the happiest I’ve ever been. I could see my best friend (who also happens to be my cousin) whenever I wanted. I fell in love and had a whirlwind romance. I was working with the Peace Corps and making lifelong friends and connections. I advanced my Macedonian skills with the help of my tutor and dear friend. I didn’t have time to write, to be honest. When I wasn’t working or at my Macedonian lessons, I was with my cousin or my ex. I took advantage of every moment, and lived life to the fullest. I have absolutely no regrets. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. That’s the plan one day, anyway. My time spent living in Macedonia in reality deserves an entire post on its own, but I think now that I’ve had much time to reflect, I’d rather keep it short and sweet. To put it simply- I lived. I learned. I loved. I laughed. I cried. I grew. For the rest of my existence I will be grateful for what I experienced between February 2017-April 2017. Always.
I came home. I got dumped. I started a new job, and spent my summer lost and very sad. Then, August came with hope on the horizon. Ah, college. What I had been preparing for my entire life. Finally. Parties, degrees, adulting, new friends, new town, new life. A new start! What could be better, right? Wrong. I moved in with all the hope and naivety of a young adult. Man, if I had known all the things I’d have to deal with, I would definitely have warned myself. I would have told myself to keep my head up and stay strong and not deal with things I didn’t have to.
The first couple months were eh. Adjusting to a new life and setting was very difficult for me, which was ironic because just a couple months before I was living on my own in a foreign country. I don’t know quite what the problem was, but eventually I got through it. I settled in. Having a room to myself starting in October was great. I’m a social person, but at the end of the day I need my space and really value my alone time. I think if I hadn’t had that first semester, things would have been much worse. I started to have a string of bad luck. I was dating someone else, and got dumped again. My car broke down and had to be towed three times. My camera, my prized possession, broke. I had health issues that would later result in surgery. Two surgeries, actually. And then, someone who I never thought I would lose, I lost very unexpectedly in December. I was devastated. I came home early, excused from my exams, to the comfort of home and family. I spiraled into depression. I had lost my way completely. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I didn’t feel like Aia. I still had hope, though, when 2018 came. I was determined to feel better and to have better luck. Life had other ideas, however.
2018 began. I was recovering from surgery, recovering from my friend’s death, back at school, wanting life to feel normal again. I started therapy. I realized a huge part of my struggle fall semester was that I stayed in my room a lot and didn’t take part in social events at school. I had a few good friends, but mostly kept to myself. Should have stayed that way, ha-ha. I did more things, I met more people, I put myself out there. Well, basically, people can suck. Big time. Spring semester I dealt with a lot of toxic relationships. I was so focused on everyone liking me and being on good terms with everybody that I lost myself even more. My heart hurts for how I let people walk all over me. Never again. I went into “survival mode” and only focused on myself and exams until I could come home to South Carolina. There was some positivity in me getting out more. I found my people, despite the toxic ones. It took me all year but I’m really glad to have them. If y’all are reading this, you know who you are and I love you.
I came home in early May, and immediately felt relief. I cut off the toxic people that were bringing me down. Life got better. I returned to work. All year long, the one thing that kept me going was the hope that I would get to go to Macedonia and see my cousin. The days and nights I spent crying over everything I went through, that was the one thought that kept my spirit alive. So naturally, as soon as I came home, I didn’t waste any time preparing my trip. My mom was already planning on going to Ireland, and last minute I decided I would go with her. Out of curiousity, I looked up how much tickets from Dublin to Skopje were. I snagged tickets roundtrip for $317. When I realized I was actually going to see my loved ones again, after waiting all year, I couldn’t contain my tears of joy. So, in five days, I will get on a plane and land in Dublin. I’m looking forward to connecting with my heritage and roots there on my mom’s side. I’m excited to go somewhere new, too. Then, after nine days in Ireland, I will go see my family and friends in Macedonia. I know once I step off that plane in Skopje I will finally be able to take a deep breath and feel even more at peace.
So what did I have to learn again this year? To protect myself. To always put myself and my mental health first, and that is never selfish. Never. To take care of myself. To listen to my body and my needs. To not let others tear me down. To make fun of me. To talk down to me. To use me. I’m done. I truly am amazed, looking back on how I let others treat me. That’s not happening this year when I return to Brevard in August. I’ll be damned if I put up with the insanity I did freshman year. No more. Finally, after a long year and four months, I feel like I have my identity back. I’m back, but I’m renewed and better than ever. And it feels amazing.
Posts on Ireland and Macedonia to come soon. 😉 xoxo