“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” —Abraham Lincoln
I’m going to go on record and say 27 has by far been the worst year of my life. I think I cried 300 of the 365 days since my last birthday, and I am not sad that it has come to an end. I spent the day avoiding work and judging a speech and debate tournament at the community college. It was not the most exciting day, but it was not a bad day.
Normally I would list all of the horrible things that happened to me while I was 27, but instead, I am going to choose this moment to do Week 10 of the Gratitude Challenge. It is a much better use of my time. The challenge for this week is to list 5 things that I like about myself. I’m not completely sure I can think of 5 things that go beyond the superficial, but I am going to give it a shot.
1. I like that I have found a way to make my students enjoy grammar. Last semester it was touch and go, but with a little humor (and some cat videos) I have managed to really get the concepts through to my students. They give me the courtesy laugh when my jokes are corny, and a few of them actually ask questions during the lectures.
2. I like that I can read trashy detective novels and watch bad reality TV without actually losing brain cells. I watch a lot of reality TV when I am stressed, and the last year has been extremely stressful. Despite all of that, I still feel like I have a good amount of intelligence left.
3. On the superficial level, I really like my nose. When I was younger, I thought my nose was huge. I thought that it was long and gave me a horrible profile. Turns out, my refusal to pose normally is what gives me a horrible profile.
4. I like my sense of adventure. For the past two years I have been trying to figure out why I wasn’t content to just stay in one place in the same routine. My gypsy soul has taken me to some crazy places, and allowed me to meet so many amazing people. I love traveling, and have been very fortunate lately to go all over the globe. The sense of adventure, and the constant traveling has taught me how to plan, how to be more curious, and how to be a more patient person. I used to get frustrated when I got lost, or when things did not go as planned. I would cry a lot over it. Now, I am a lot more easy going, and a lot more willing to go with the flow if there is traffic, delays, and even if I get lost.
5. I like my fortitude and perseverance. As much as this sucked (thanks to the break-up, getting kicked out of grad school, being bullied), I did not give up. I took the abuse and harassment from the program for almost a year. I was willing to stick it out to get the dumb degree and go back overseas. I tried to fight the good fight, I did not compromise my values for them. I did a lot of yoga, watched a lot of kitty and puppy videos, and shed a lot of tears in the process, but I never quit. Although they ended up winning that battle, I won the war. I am mostly emotionally intact, and I am happy to say that I am moving on to bigger and most certainly better.
I am happy to announce that starting at the end of June, I will officially be an expat again. I secured a position at a university in Edinburgh that will allow me to earn a PhD, and do some very important research. The position is fully funded, and provides a stipend that will help offset living expenses. This position could not be more perfect for me. I’m so glad that the supervisors of the project felt the same way. To them I am not a racist who plagiarized for academic gain, to them I am a capable woman with excellent research and communication skills. To them, I am the perfect member of their team, and someone that is going to help shape their research.
This position is a fresh start. I get to move back to Scotland. This is the happiest that I have felt in a really long time.
Securing this position is a pretty darn good way to end the worst year of my life.
Last year at this time I was in Scotland receiving my MSc in Education. I spent Thanksgiving showing my sister my favorite parts of the city, and really feeling good about being back in Edinburgh. I was extremely homesick for my life there, and I had not yet processed and mourned the loss of my life there. I didn’t eat turkey. I didn’t eat mash potatoes. I didn’t have to watch football. I dragged my mom and sister to my favorite pub and made them watch karaoke with the cast of regulars I used to watch every Thursday. It was magical.
To continue my tradition of being overseas for Thanksgiving, I came to Estonia. I have had a very rough few months in the doctorate program, and the only thing I wanted to do was put as much space as I could between me and the United States. I spent yesterday being a tourist and wandering around the old part of the city and enjoying the snow flurries.
I had a home cooked meal of turkey burgers, mashed potatoes, and a pear and parmigiana salad. Susanne cooked the entire meal, and she filled me with wine, filled me with good food, and we chatted all night. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. There was no drama, no one calling me a racist, and no stress. I was able to end the day with a Skype call to my mom, and some yummy dessert.
This year, I am thankful for Estonia. I know that I should say I am thankful for my friends and family, and trust me, I am, but I am thankful for them every day, and not just on one of my favorite holidays. This year though, I am thankful for not being in the US, and have some much needed distance between me and the source of my stress and anxiety. I came here to get some clarity on whether or not I want to continue in the program, and whether or not the degree is worth the program breaking my spirit.
I have been to three different countries in 5 days, walked so many miles I lost count, and have successfully battled the language barrier here. Not once was I depressed, anxious, or stressed. I was a bit lonely on my trip to Finland, but that is to be expected when traveling alone.
This year, I am thankful for my little break from reality, from an adventure to curb my wanderlust for a bit, and for a chance to heal a little. The 365 days since last Thanksgiving have been a roller coaster of good and bad, and I am hoping that because I survived them mostly in tact, that in another 365 days I will be in a better place.
If Brittany Spears can survive 2007, I can survive this.
I have been in Scotland for three days now and have yet to write anything down. I have been so excited about being here, that I have not been glued to my computer. I’ve walked Kelly all over this city. I showed her the tourist areas, the not so tourist areas, and all of my favorite spots in the city.
Today is Thanksgiving. Today, I have a lot to be thankful for. Last year at this time I was in Scotland, and after going to class, I shrugged off a Thanksgiving party to stay in and Skype with my mom and the asshole. I was thankful for the new friends I had made, the boy I loved, and the family that allowed me to go on a crazy adventure that turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.
This year, I am lucky enough to be back in Scotland, this time to graduate. This year, I am thankful for second chances, learning how to find what will make me happy, and the family that allows me to continue all of my crazy adventures.
In the last year, so much has happened to me (all of which is chronicled in these posts), and while not all of it has been sunshine and roses, I feel like I have come out on top.
Today I spent Thanksgiving wandering around my favorite place in the world with my two favorite people, and then sat in my favorite pub with two more of my favorite people watching karaoke. It was the perfect way to spend the day (minus being with my entire family). Tomorrow I graduate , and get ready to properly close this chapter of my life.
My wish for all of my wonderful readers is that you all have a very happy Thanksgiving, and that you all continue to have much to be thankful for.