Throughout the course of this past summer, I mourned my spring semester abroad in the United Kingdom and worried about my final year of college. I didn’t want to move on. So, I moved forward slowly instead.
After nine hours of tears and recycled air, I stepped off the plane. The heat and humidity in the air was a new feeling. I had been accustomed to it my whole life, but after five months abroad I had forgotten just how sweat-inducing it is. Readapting to the heat was probably the smallest of the mental and physical adjustments I made when returning to the U.S..
As much as I had missed my friends and family, they could clearly see I wasn’t ready to be back home for the summer. There had still been so much left to see and do.
I was hung up on Europe – my short-term lover who never even called me back. I went through my breakup phase: looked at old photos, desperately messaged friends I had made and planned my trip to return.
My biggest mistake at the start of this summer was remaining idle. All my friends had jobs or internships, which left me at home alone. Time and time again, I stayed home watching Netflix as my friends learned how to survive in the real world. This, more than anything, motivated me to start searching for something to occupy my time. It took me a month before I really got back out there with a goal in mind.
I knew that, while I couldn’t let myself stay heartbroken, I was going to start working towards a future abroad. My European experience had been amazing, but my yearning to return didn’t have to overrun my life. I buckled down and started applying for jobs and internships. I sent an application to any job related to what I was studying. When I wasn’t doing that, I was submitting my flash fiction and short stories to literary magazines.
As I waited to hear back on my prospects, I reconnected with friends abroad and at home. I felt love and support for my efforts to take charge of my future from each end of the world.
In the end, I received a job writing for a blog and managing social media outlets for a store. After many rejections, I had a flash fiction piece accepted for publication.
In the process of mourning and worrying, I managed to find opportunities that would put me on a successful post-grad path. If Europe doesn’t take me back, they don’t know what they’re missing.
Diana Rodon is a senior majoring in journalism and English.
Featured image courtesy Flickr user Nikos Koutoulas