Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s been an incredible fortnight. Between my shock at the elections, the stress of my studies, the excitement of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and my sadness at realizing I’ll be leaving soon, I think it’s fair to say these past two weeks have been emotionally exhausting. But we persevere, for we are human and there isn’t much else we can do. Where to start?

I’ll go with the controversial topic first and get it out of the way: the US 2k16 Election. Wow, what a mess. And not just for the United States. In the UK, people were shocked and hurt as well about the way things turned out. I’ve jokingly named it Brexit Part 2 on my twitter page, but looking at it, it’s not that funny and it’s not really a joke. As a queer and trans lower-class child of immigrants, I’m definitely concerned for myself and for those that share my marginalized identity. I can’t imagine how it feels for others who have it worse than me. At least I’m out of the country and not having to experience everything firsthand, though I do feel quite helpless and useless from across the pond. And yet, there’s still hope. I see everyday on different news feeds how the American people are protesting and making a stand to let their thoughts be known, how people are not giving up and it makes me excited to go home. It makes me excited to stand with my peers and use our freedoms, the one’s we have a birthright to, to make ourselves heard. I’m down, but I will stand up, just as many others have done already.

Speaking of going home soon, that’s definitely hit me on another emotional level. I’ve made so many friends here, most younger than me, and I keep thinking to myself, what do their futures hold? What does my future hold? Going back to Whitman means finishing my third year and getting ready to be a senior, something that comes with it’s own bag of tricks and treats. Grad school is looming on the horizon, internship and scholarship calls are clogging up my Whitman email, and I’m sitting in a tiny town in Scotland stressing about what all the people I’ve just met are going to do with their lives. It just puts so many things into perspective for me. I’ve almost gotten to redo my whole first semester of college being here, being around others in their first year and meeting the same struggles as I did and still do meet. But the reality is, I have a year and a half left of undergrad left and they all have at least three years waiting for them, waiting for them to discover themselves and their interests, waiting for them to discover their futures and paths. I’m sitting here thinking: oh wait, was I supposed to do that already? And I realize, yes. I was. And I have. I am. I think that’s the important bit in all of this. Not that it’s something to be checked off, already done, or done as soon as possible, but that it’s an ongoing process that takes time and patience and will change many times before it settles down. I think, as a student and adult in this day and age, I have to be okay and come to terms with that.

I think I might be starting to.

In some ways, I’m very lucky to be where I am. So many of the people I’ve met at St. Andrews came into university knowing exactly what they would be studying in great detail with specific tests to be taken to determine if they could even do what they want. If they didn’t pass those, if they change their minds, it’s going to be a bit more difficult to change that it is for me. I mean, I got time to think it through before I even declared my major and I can still change it if I found it necessary. The other day, I met someone who was 16. She was 16, born in the year 2000, and was in university on a one-way track to becoming a doctor in the medical school here and yes, yes, I understand that the systems here work differently and for Scottish/Britons, she’s not that special of a case. But what I’m getting at is that I’m four years older than her, born in a different decade, century, millennium, and I still have so much leeway, so many options just because of where I go to college in the US. It’s liberating. It’s odd.

Is this what growing old feels like?

Maybe I’m too young to be thinking like that. I’ve only been around for two decades, but in light of the things that have been happening, both in the world and in the United States, it makes you think in a whole new light. Being in a foreign country and university definitely does wonder on perspective. I know I’ll be glad to go home, going back to Whitman and those I left behind. I know I’ll be upset about leaving St. Andrews and Scotland, leaving the relationships I’ve made behind. I get a bittersweet taste at the back of my throat just thinking about it. But it’s life and it’s not forever.

I have so many options and I have so many choices. I’m going to start taking them and I’m going to start making them.

Wish me luck!

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