As I sit in this coffee shop… (IV)

…I must confess I’m feeling much more at peace. One month ago I was angry, regretful, guilty, angsty, confused, and humiliated. I was angry at myself for leaving Connecticut. I was regretful about disrupting my life for what I thought was no reason. I was guilty about how I handled certain situations. I was angsty because I feared I wouldn’t get past how overwhelmed I felt. I was confused because I spent the last 12 years convincing myself I wanted to come back. And mostly I was humiliated. Humiliated because I was euphoric at first; I was having a blast and embracing the novelty. I was humiliated about changing my mind. But today, I am grateful, enlightened, hopeful, proud, and most of all at ease.

After a lot of reflection, support from family and friends, and even professional advice, I was able to perceive this experience as purposeful instead of as a regret or a mistake. A month ago I could not understand why I felt such an urge to come back for so long. I could not figure out how to justify my decade-long desire. I was too angry at myself to realize I had loose ends I didn’t even know about. My parents took me away from Jersey when I was 14 years old and I think I subconsciously felt like I had unfinished business here. I understand now that I came back to tie up whatever ends were still loose; to finally close this chapter of my life on my own terms and not my parents’.

Instead of allowing regret to consume me, I am telling myself now that if I had never come back, I would have never known that it isn’t for me. For 12 years, I thought Jersey was home and it took me coming back to learn that home is not a place. Home is a feeling. Home is family. Home is where you come back after vacation and think “Ah, it’s good to be home.” And that’s kind of how I feel: like I’m on a reeeally long vacation and I am ready to go home. I’m ready to sleep in my own bed. I’m ready to get back to a familiar routine.

I know now that coming back (again) was something I just had to do. When I tried to do it as a freshman in college, I think I was too young. I was too young to understand why I felt the need to return in the first place. Now, at 26, I am able to recognize that there was an open wound I needed to heal on my own. If I never came back, I would have always wondered “What if?” I would have always questioned myself. At least now, I can confidently say I tried and be content with the outcome even if it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it was everything I wanted but I was wrong and that’s okay.

Today, I am no longer angry, regretful, guilty, angsty, confused, or humiliated by my choices. Today, I am grateful for my time here in Jersey and my time working in Philly. I met some incredible people, made some unforgettable memories, and gained experience both professionally and emotionally that I will have with me forever. Today, I am enlightened by this journey and how much I have learned about myself. Today, I am hopeful about my future. Today, I am proud of myself for embracing advice and finding the strength to alter my perception of the situation. Today, I am at peace. I am at peace with every decision I have made over the last five months because in those moments, I did exactly what I wanted.

As this chapter comes to an end, my biggest takeaway is that this part of my story was not a mistake like I had once believed. This wasn’t for no reason. Through all of this, I have learned that we are allowed to think we want something and be wrong about it. We are allowed to utterly enjoy something and then decide it’s not for us. We are allowed to change our minds. Life is all about learning and if we are not learning than we are not growing. And I sure have grown through all of this!

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