I'm sure you've seen and heard SO many things about this upcoming school year and the anxiety people are feeling. No one really knows what next year has in store. There are people who are scared, upset, hopeful, excited, or unmotivated. I've heard and seen so much in these past few months. Lots of my writing inspiration has come from this school situation, which is surprising because I don't like school. I'll be going back to school in a couple of weeks (probably around the time this article is published). It's been all I can think about lately. The uncertainty of it all scares me but, it's also intriguing.
There are fears that come with every new school year, not just from COVID and the regulations that are going to be made for all of us this time around. Will I like my teachers? Will my school work be hard? Will the kids in my class like me? You know, just the typical questions almost everyone asks themselves at one time or another.
All this to say, with all these unknown factors, I know how excited I am to see my friends. I'm going to be back in my hometown this year, so I'll get to see the best friends I grew up with and lots of people I spent my middle school years with. When we got back home in our new house, I constantly thought about how much I missed them and how much fun this year was going to be, no matter the circumstances. Even though I'm fairly optimistic, the lingering fear of change stayed in the back of my mind. A year doesn't seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but humans gravitate towards change, whether we like it or not. We do it subconsciously without even knowing it. I was really scared of what was to come. Stupid, irrational thoughts just poured into me - the idea that people I used to be super close with wouldn't want to talk to me anymore, or that I would have a hard time fitting into a new setting.
While I spent all this time worrying, I looked up at a framed picture on the wall of myself with an old friend of mine - we were childhood best friends. We spent nearly every waking moment together. My mom drove her to school and we rode back home on the bus together. We practically lived at each other's houses. She came over in the mornings for carpooling, and I often spent afternoons at her house. We played board games, sang all the hit songs from the early 2010s, stayed up for hours at night until my mom finally had to pry me out of her house. We were the stereotypical neighborhood best friends in a stereotypical friendly neighborhood, like the ones from those coming-of-age movies. But, like all good things, it came to an end. We moved away from that quiet little neighborhood in Maryland, but we didn't stop being friends. We visited each other over the summer and even played Scrabble over FaceTime. We stayed in contact for the longest time. Our friendship was strong and conquered the greatest distance...until it didn't.
Looking at that picture gave me a quick rush of happiness, memories, and a beautiful type of nostalgia. Then, I was reminded that even though we knew each other, we weren't a part of each other's lives anymore; it's a tough pill to swallow. It doesn't hurt as much when it's just some person you happened to talk to throughout school. When someone you have a real, rich history with just walks out of your life, it really stings. Sometimes her name gets brought up by my family and I just don't know what to say. It's hard to talk about someone you used to talk about all the time when they are now just a person you used to call your best friend.
All joking aside, that's something a LOT of people have to go through. Military or not, we're bound to lose people, no matter how hard we try to keep them with us. Sometimes, people can't get along anymore, they don't click like they used to, or there might not even be a reason for their rift. No matter the reason, it hurts more than anything to see someone you cared so much about become just a stranger. A blocked number. A random face on your feed. A distant memory. I'm usually an optimist, but watching someone walk out of your life and completely forget about you simply makes you feel bitter. It made me feel so alone in the world. I had so many amazing friends, so many people who cared about me in those moments, and yet I felt like I had no one.
I'm lucky because when I lost my first best friend, I was given back so many more in return; I gained more than I lost. Not many people have it that easy. People who feel real human loss often don't get anything back. Even though I received so much, I still was angry. I had lost something so special.
Military life is like that. You come to know so many people who touch your life for a brief, fleeting moment, and then, just like that, you're off on a new adventure. I can't give you great advice on what to do when you lose someone you care about. It feels like the loneliest you'll ever be. You shouldn't have to shrug it off. I know I was upset at the world for days. As bitter and angry as I was when I stared up at that picture of a younger me, I thought of how much I had grown as a person. My life is so different from when that picture was taken, and that's how it will always be. I'll continue to grow and change. People will come into my life. Some will stay and some will leave. I'm lucky in the sense that I haven't gotten my first taste of watching other people move away. I'm even luckier that I've even found people who I know are going to stay. Now that I'm in a place where I'll stay for the rest of high school, it gives me a break from having to move. But, I know I won't stop having people pass through my life. I continue to watch people come and go, like leaves in the wind. It's painful, but I've begun to see this from a new point of view.
Everyone has a different outlook on life, and how they believe their life should be fulfilled. I've always liked to think that as long as I can touch as many lives as I can with who I am and what I do and accomplish, I will be complete. While sometimes I resent the Army, it's helped me with that. Army life actually enabled me to realize what I want out of life, and for that, I am extremely grateful.