It feels like writing is all I have left, but at the same time, I don’t know what to write anymore. I haven’t properly expressed myself in so long. It’s been quite a year.
The experience of studying abroad was not what I had expected, yet looking back, I wonder what kind of experience I had expected in the first place. Knowing myself, the fact that I am only able to select a few concrete moments out of the blur that has characterized the last five months should come as no surprise. But I do think this experience was necessary. If anything, I’ve learned a lot more by needlessly pushing myself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion in solitude overseas than I would have, had I not decided to leave. It’s taught me that I really know nothing. And that my priorities are entirely out of whack.
I think I’ve struggled a lot, trying to determine what kind of person I am. [A fruitless struggle, obviously.] I think on some level, everyone wants to think of themselves as special, significant, but most of us are merely ordinary, and it’s hard not to have qualms about that. Obviously we have some impact on the lives of those around us, even if only in passing, but if a select few are able to achieve recognition then we’re forced to grapple with our own insignificance within this larger network of happenings. Yet at the same time, in no way can anyone’s existence be insignificant, as the coming together of all these lives makes for organic encounters that would not be possible outside of the precise circumstances of their unfolding, and one’s existence (living, breathing) is integral to that process. But with that in mind, it’s hard to determine what to make of “life” in general. It’s so short, really. And while no one’s experience is the same and it’s susceptible to innumerable changes, you have to work with the cards you’re dealt, to some degree. If we’re insignificant beyond a limited network of interactions, is there any point in living for anyone but the self? Perhaps not, but sometimes it’s hard to do otherwise. Being able to contemplate life from a distanced perspective is one gifted to those who are able to live, not to those who must survive.
Some people may argue that I’ve wasted my time here. Now that we’re nearing the end, I’m forced to reckon with that fact. I did little to venture outside of myself, but that is not necessarily a flaw. Due to my penchant for introspection it’s what was likely to happen, and I think it’s useful for it to have happened now, when I can afford to dawdle and think aimlessly about stupid things, with no real purpose and no honest responsibilities. Being a student has its luxuries.
The health complications I developed due to my reckless lack of self-care while overseas have also forced me to confront the fact that I am afraid of death, and that I take a lot for granted. I had always believed that upon acknowledging that death was inevitable, and holding it with me, I would be prepared should it come, even unexpectedly. What a load of shit. In the moment, when confronted with the unknown, I was terrified.