Stronger Together

When I was in high school, my life was always really hectic. My entire world felt like a revolving door in which I was trying to balance sports, theater, dance, and school all at the same time. But that’s how I loved it. I loved my crazy, hectic, insane life. I very rarely ever considered quitting anything, and I was totally fine with sleeping less if that meant I got to hang out with my friends when I didn’t have a practice to be at.

When I got to college, I did the same thing. I was never that kid who got stressed out because I was doing too much. Instead, I always felt like I was doing too little. At first, I was just working, but then I joined two student organizations and still didn’t feel like my school-load was overwhelming. Maybe I like the challenge. It’s possible that I just want to see how many activities I can put on my plate before I break. Because before I knew it, I had full-semesters and four different jobs. Most people acted like I was insane, but I never hated it. A fast-paced life meant excitement to me, not stress.

It wasn’t until last year that my life really began to slow down. For eight months, my life felt like it was being lived in slow motion. And for the most part, I hated it. I hated the down time, and I hated the slow-pace. I spent most of my time alone – trying to figure out the rest of life because I wasn’t happy with my current situation. I always needed something to look forward to in order to distract me from my daily unhappiness.

Then in August, I finally decided that I was unhappy with being unhappy. I made a lot of changes, and I decided to finally go back to being me. First, I started a new job, then I joined a new church, and then I moved into a new home with new friends. My days have been longer and busier and happier. Today, as I was driving home from work, I thought about my day. Today, I started a second job. It’s just a part-time gig to help me pay off some debt, but it’s meant an even busier lifestyle than I was living before. My days have stretched to 12 hours, and my nights are filled with to-do lists that will never be completed. And I love every single crazy second of it.

But tonight, as I was driving through the rain, my life paused for a little bit, and I was reminded of my community at home. I thought about the people whose lives were flipped upside-down this week. And about the classmates who are mourning the loss of their dear friend. And the teachers, parents, siblings, and friends who were blindsided by a death they wish they could’ve prevented. My heart ached for those people as I drove home.

These are the nights that make me so wish that I was back in my hometown – that I could just ditch my next 12-hour day and fly home instead. These moments remind me just how precious those tiny corners of the world are, even if nobody outside will ever notice.

This last week has been a rough one. Not just in the midst of my hometown tragedy, but also in America. There have been too many people fighting over an election that’s not the end of the world. There have been too many people focused on one man, instead of the people around them. There have been too many people (on both sides) lashing out when that will never solve our problems.

For one whole week, this country has been filled with nothing but hate.

But that hasn’t changed the people in my hometown or how they love. Even in the face of tragedy, despite anyone’s political beliefs, I am so proud to be from a community that knows that loving each other is the only way we’ll get through the hard moments. A community that comes together in unison, in compassion, in prayer. A community that genuinely cares about the people who live within it. A community that will grow stronger through adversity, and not the opposite.

After a long week of busy schedules, election negativity, and tragedy, I’m happy to see that loving others will always win. While it’s sad to see the pictures of neighboring schools wearing blue to support the sadness that my hometown is feeling, it’s comforting to know that there are still people in the world who are willing to set aside their differences in order to show love to one another. Because that’s all we really need in life – people who are willing to live and love together, no matter the circumstance.

Nights like tonight remind me of the love that I have for the community that sculpted who I am. And remind me just how thankful I should be to have grown up where I did. Yes, I love my hectic life, and no, I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for anything in the world. But I’m starting to think that maybe life is a lot more about those little pauses that happen when you’re alone in your car in the middle of the rain, that it ever is about the crazy schedules and the long to-do lists.

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6 thoughts on “Stronger Together

  1. Kaelly,
    Your thoughtful words speak to so many hearts in our school/communities this week. Thank you for taking time to share with us and remind us of what really matters in life — each other.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts. I know you were not just writing about Bryce but the whole community. I am feeling that live right now through my pain. Other people’s thoughts are comforting. Thank you

  3. Another great read Kaelly! I especially loved the last line, and I am in total agreement. Getting older means making new discoveries not only about the world around you, but about yourself!

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