A Vintage Coat, Gingham Dress, and Looking Back

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?

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9 thoughts on “A Vintage Coat, Gingham Dress, and Looking Back

  1. YOU GOT THIS, GIRL!!!! Your mom kicks ass, clearly, but I am sorry to hear of how much you had to handle earlier last year. It sucks when the child becomes the parents for a little while in the care giving sense – been there done that with my mom’s mental health challenges. It’s HARD!!!

    I know you’re gonna rock whatever path you choose – I think you can totally become a vet and yeah, it’s gonna be hard work, but you totally have the ability to handle it. YOU GOT THIS GIRL!

    Also, you in gingham and this awesome coat? KILLIN IT.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! It was definitely a shock when my mom and I switched care giving roles, but I’ve become a stronger person because of it and I’m sure you have, too.

      I really appreciate your support! And I have to admit, I’m kind of obsessed with this dress/coat combination!

      Like

  2. I am so proud of you for following your dreams! I believe in you SO MUCH and I’m so amazed by everything you have gone through just in the past twelve months. I’m sorry you’ve had so much hardship with your mom’s illness and then Anthony’s, but I’m so glad to hear they’re doing better!

    You rock. You are absolutely an amazing role model for anyone to follow who feels like maybe they can’t really follow their dreams. And it’s totally valid to say that depression affects (or has affected) your choices in the past and why you haven’t started on your dream path until now, but you took a step forward and that’s what matters!

    You look gorgeous. I’m rooting for you! Happy New Year!

    xoxo
    Kristina
    eyreeffect.com

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve been getting more support than ever and it’s really helping to drive me forward.

      Last year was difficult, but it allowed me to grow up and become a stronger person. I’ve been very fortunate in my mom’s recovery.

      I do hope to inspire those living with mental illnesses and help them realize that they can achieve what they want in life through dedication and hard work. I’m so excited to finally be on the right path!

      Like

  3. This is such a lovely post – thought-provoking and inspiring. I feel privileged to have read what you felt able to reveal and it certainly helps us to put our own challenges (mine are completely minor in comparison) into perspective and to understand that we will always find those reserves of strength. And underlying it all, what a sense of ambition to achieve your dream. Thank you, and I hope the coming year will reward your determination to navigate the past year.

    Oh, and what a beautiful dress – it’s perfect on you!

    Happy New Year

    Karen x

    Like

  4. You are an amazing strong woman to conquer so much in one year and come out with your head held high. I’ll be keeping your mom in my thoughts and crossing my fingers for a stem cell transplant for her. So glad she’ll be moving up north and living closer to you ❤.

    Good for you for kicking your old job to the curb and finding something that helps you pursue your dreams! Don’t let anybody talk you out of what your heart is set on. Ten years is a long time, but speaking from experience (6 years in grad school, followed by two years on the academic job market), that time goes pretty dang quickly.

    You’ve got this!!

    <3!
    Emily

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Emily! I honestly am not sure how I got through certain parts of last year, but I’m definitely a stronger person because of those experiences.
      I actually reached out to the vet program I’m interested in and it looks like it will take less than 10 years to achieve my goal, so I’m even more dedicated to it now! Thanks for your support! ❤

      Like

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