This time of year most bloggers post a recap of their outfits from the past 12 months, and I thought about doing the same, but I felt more inclined to write a recap of my experiences during this last year and my aspirations for the next (with some cute outfit pictures included, of course).
2016 was a tumultuous year filled with various ups and difficult downs. The beginning of the year was one of the most difficult times of my young life. I was faced with my mother’s mortality when she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and flown to Boston to begin treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. We’ve been fortunate thus far in that she’s been in remission for roughly eight months.
Even though I was 25 at the time (and technically an adult), I felt like I was being forced to grow up very quickly. I was responsible for handling all of her financial obligations while making medical decisions regarding her place of treatment and trying to stabilize my own mental state.
I look back and honestly don’t know how I did it. I must have lost at least five pounds in the ten days I was in Florida taking care of everything while my mom was in the hospital. I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for the past ten years and somehow I was able to quell my anxiety enough (partly through the medication that I was fortunately put on before any of this happened) to get my mom up to Boston.
She lived on our couch in our one bedroom apartment for months. She was confined to our apartment and couldn’t be exposed to people due to her non-existent immune system. If either Anthony or I got sick we had to wear masks. I flushed a port in her arm twice a day for about a month until they realized she wouldn’t be receiving chemotherapy.
In the end, things have worked out for the best. She’s part of a clinical trial that requires her to take just two pills per day. She’s moving to Massachusetts, which is something she’s wanted for a long time, and I’ll be just a car ride away.
During this time I was working a job that I had been very disillusioned by for a while. Fortunately, it was a decent company that allowed me to go on paid leave in order to take care of my mom. But upon my return to work, I felt completely unappreciated and was told that they expected more of me despite their knowledge of my mother’s condition. I guess that’s retail for you.
Needless to say, I began searching for a new job the next day and was fortunate enough to be hired by Harvard University. With my new job, a raise, and the possibility of my mom receiving a stem cell transplant (which is the closest thing to a cure for AML), Anthony and I moved into a bigger apartment just two doors down from our old one.
We were half way through 2016 and it looked like we were on our way to having a good rest of the year, but that wasn’t the case. In June, Anthony and I lost one of the most loyal and genuine friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. It was one of those moments when your whole body goes into shock, you no longer hear what anyone around you is saying, and you refuse to believe what happened.
Within the next few months, Anthony’s mom suffered a massive heart attack. Thankfully, she was a nurse and recognized the signs right away. Since then, she’s been eating healthier and has lost a substantial amount of weight.
I began taking night classes at Harvard in pursuit of a Biology Master’s Degree. My first course in four years was Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology and, admittedly, it kicked my butt. Normally I would become discouraged, but I decided to sign up for another course with the same professor this coming semester.
But here’s where I’m at now: I want to become a veterinarian. I’ve had this dream since I was a little girl, but was never encouraged to pursue it. The reactions I would receive, especially as I got older, were along the lines of “it’s impossible to get into vet school,” or “it’s too expensive…”
I recognize that mental illnesses shouldn’t be used as an excuse, and sometimes I’m unclear on when I am using mine as an excuse, but discouraging someone with depression, who already has low hopes of achieving future endeavors and virtually no confidence, from something they are actually motivated towards (which is rare) is disparaging and counterproductive to their improvement.
I also recognize that my family means well. That they’re looking out for me and want me to be financially successful. That veterinary school is liable to put me in a lot of debt. But I’ve carried this dream for so long and convinced myself that it wasn’t a viable option. And now that I’ve established a life for myself, this dream has only gotten more difficult to achieve.
It’ll take me 7-10 years to obtain a DVM because I’ll have to work full time, go to school part time and volunteer on weekends at either a shelter or a vet office. The stress of that timeline bogs me down, the stress of being 26 and just starting this journey overwhelms me. Maybe it’s the brat in me, but I just want my dream job as soon as possible.
But someone once told me that 10 years is nothing if it means I’m doing what I love. So this is me saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017. This is me acknowledging that this year, and the next decade or so, is going to be extremely difficult. This is me convincing myself that I can do it. And this is me looking confident in a gorgeous dress and incredible vintage coat with the hope that these pictures will instill some faith in my abilities to achieve my dream.
What are your aspirations for the New Year?