January 14th, 2018
When I graduated from Siena, a place so familiar and hospitable, I went into denial. My whole life felt like it was there; my friends, teammates, boyfriend and professors always greeted me with open arms. Graduating meant an extremely fulfilling part of my life was over and I struggled to see what came next. Over the summer I starting doubting myself often wondering, What if Northern Ireland wasn’t like Siena? What if I didn’t like the people? What if I wasn’t a good mentor and coach? I was overwhelmed with anxiety and I didn’t want to leave what I knew best. I wanted to stay home, get a job and be near my friends and family. I wanted to remain in a state of comfort.
One of my best friends recently sent me an article explaining my life path based on my zodiac sign (tysm Madi). She couldn’t have sent it at a better time as she somehow sensed I was beginning to suffer from severe homesickness. Reading it made me appreciate my sense of adventure and my willingness to try new things. Ever since I was a young girl I yearned to see new places and experience new adventures, but I’m also a girl that enjoys comfort. Accepting this incredible opportunity to live in Northern Ireland meant having to step so far outside of my comfort zone and that terrified me. Madi was also making a big change in her life as she was getting ready to move to California to start grad school. She constantly reminded me of what was ahead, how much personal growth I had to accomplish and that I needed to learn how to embrace the journey I would soon begin. Having one of my closest friends to relate to was reassuring.
My social media accounts are filled with numerous adventures and countless smiles and that’s because I want to share my most positive and uplifting moments. I enjoy posting pictures where I don’t just look happy, I make sure I post pictures where I feel happy. But this blogpost contradicts the above statement and that delights me in a way because it’s the truth. The truth isn’t always as optimistic as I envision it to be and it’s in this truth that I feel most vulnerable. Embarking on this journey means sharing every step of it, not just the joyous moments I post on social media. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m homesick at age 22, but I’m starting to realize how normal of a feeling it is. God is reminding me that some things have to change so I can achieve the growth I initially sought. Feeling homesick and anxious every so often is an unwritten part of this adventure and it’s only going to make me more intuitive and more equipped for future challenges. It’s shortly after a severe wave of homesickness has ended and a change in mindset that I realize how lucky I am to have been blessed with such amazing people and memories that make missing home and my old college so difficult. I’m thankful there are more days where I want to fully immerse myself in the Irish culture and drink Guinness than days that I want to isolate myself from everyone around me.
My closest friends and family know how hard of a change this was for me to make, but it was a change I needed. And while this may seem like a miniscule issue to some who have faced far greater challenges, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to face; being engulfed in an anxious state that leads me to constantly wonder what if, what if I stayed home, what if I never took this chance, what if I went home for Christmas break. Waves of homesickness and anxiety will continue to come and go this semester, but re-emphasizing the importance of this experience is my most important New Years resolution. Reminding myself that I can’t change the “what ifs”, I can only change how I react in current situations
My brother and mom brought a piece of home with them when they came to visit for Christmas and I am so happy they were able to make the trek over. Home is obviously so comforting and will forever have a piece of my heart, but Northern Ireland is becoming a significant part of my life as each day passes. The most at home moment I felt was going absolutely crazy on NYE when the Buffalo Bills ended a 17 year drought period and made it to the playoffs. Even though I missed celebrating Christmas with my whole family and New Year’s Eve with my friends, I don’t think anything will beat that moment of celebrating a crucial Buffalo win with my mom and die-hard Bills fan of a brother.
Thank you Mom and Kevin for spending the holidays with me, I had so much fun and I miss you guys and the whole family so much. And thank you so much to everyone I’ve met in Northern Ireland who’s been so gracious and welcoming; Sport Changes Life, the golf and basketball communities, my housemates and the Maguire family. Thank you for being so hospitable and making Northern Ireland feel more like home everyday, I don’t know what I would do without you guys! I’m looking forward to another semester filled with new experiences and everlasting memories.