Written yesterday, 12-26-17:
For the first time, I am traveling this holiday season. My first destination is Frankfurt, where I’ll stay with my older brother, get a taste of Germany in the winter, and ring in the New Year. My second travel destination is Paris, for a short study abroad trip, where I will get to read and write in Hemingway’s old haunts.
Because of this impending trip, the last few days, weeks really, have been a roller coaster of emotions.
First, there has been stress; I was so worried about planning every detail and then so overwhelmed when I discovered that I physically couldn’t do that AND live in the moments leading up to Christmas with my family—and that was all the time that I had with them.
Then excitement; obviously, I mean, I’m going to Europe! I’ve been once before, when I was seventeen, and I fell in love with Germany in July (who wouldn’t?). So, three years later, it’s finally time to reunite with this particular long distance love, at the opposite time of year, AND get to see Paris for the first time. It sounds like a dream when I simply say where I’m going, let alone when I dive into my plans.
But there was also sadness; I traveled on Christmas, my absolute favorite holiday of the year, leaving my cozy house and actual long-distance boyfriend after only six days together, and then my trip took longer than expected because of a ridiculous Amtrak ordeal (in short, it should NEVER be okay to sell bus tickets as connections to train tickets and then refuse to wait for that connection that YOU SOLD @Amtrak). On my extended bus ride, I was having vivid flashbacks to my freshman year of college; I was experiencing the same kind of loss, the kind that you feel when leaving behind those you want to take with you, knowing you have to in order to get the most out of the amazing experience in front of you.
And anxiety; do I have everything? Will I get everything taken care of before it’s time to leave? Do I have everything on my list? Wait, did I even make a full list? Do I need two coats? Should I have convinced someone to fly with me? Would that have made this less stressful? Also, am I going to get sick, between the airport and my lack of sleep and trying to fit what I can of my usual five-week holiday break into one? How can I be thinking all of these things at once??
Finally, exhaustion; this past semester was easily the most difficult, and I feel like I have yet to totally shake the anxiety and weariness I gained from it. I keep having to remind myself that it’s over, and that I deserve this trip, and most importantly, this entire trip is FOR ME. To rest, to spend time with my brother, and to learn and create in a beautiful, historic location. Trying to triple check every detail of my packing wasn’t helping my mental health; I wasn’t as organized as I would’ve liked and my obsessiveness was only adding extra pressure. In the last few days, I’ve had to do my best to check myself, to say “I don’t need that,” or “I don’t need to worry about it,” and move on to do the things I’ve been meaning to prioritize, things I was forgetting because my brain was too tired and preoccupied.
To that end, I feel better. I’m sitting at my gate in O’hare, two hours early, with everything as taken care of as I can make it. I did not get enough sleep (as my teacher stressed we should), but I never do before important travel or other events. I’m doing my best to self-care in any other ways I can today.
That’s my goal for this entire trip: self-care. I realized in taking the time to write all of this out that I need to make time to do what I value so that I can check in with myself, feel grounded, and grow from there.
Here’s to exploring, engaging, and writing for myself in the New Year.
Stay tuned for more from my travels abroad!