The Truth About Closure

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When I was 13 I read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book series. Tibby was my favorite character, I even named our cat after her. In the books Tibby wants to be a film director and carries her camera with her everywhere capturing everything she experiences. I was inspired so I asked for a video camera for my 14th birthday.

On my 14th birthday in October 2007 my parents bought me my own video camera. I took the camera pretty much everywhere with me for a year. My goal was to create a video about a year in my life. I filmed sleepovers with friends, after school activities, family events, and every holiday.

I forgot about this video camera until I cleaned out my parent’s basement earlier this year. I brought it home and stored it in our spare bedroom in a box until last week when I got the inspiration to start going through the boxes. I found the camera again and tried to turn it on but it needed a new battery. Amazon delivered the new battery the next day and my 12 year old video camera was back in action!

Going through the videos that I so carefully filmed was extremely hard. Life has changed drastically in the last 12 years and I’m no longer friends with any of the same people. I saw the girl I considered a sister give me a hug, I listened to 14 year old Hayley talk about love like she knew how it felt, I got to see baby videos of my two favorite kids.

At 14 I thought that I had it all figured out. I had the best group of friends who I thought would be with me throughout the rest of my life. I had my dorky little sister, my parents, and my amazing grandparents. I had a future career as a film director and I was going to marry my best friend’s older brother. Everything was going to be okay because I was surrounded with people who loved me more than anything.

I obviously never made the video about a year in my life. The summer before I turned 15 was when everything started to change. One of my best friends was a guy and I think we both always cared about each other a little differently than we cared about our other friends. We started dating that summer that I stopped filming and were together for the next 2ish years.

Seeing this boy that I used to care about in these videos hurt my heart a little bit. Not because I have any feelings left for him but because before watching I couldn’t ever remember being friends with him. Our breakup during our junior year was messy, mostly because I was immature and decided that there was no way we could ever be friends again. I cut him out of my life completely and lost most of my other friends along the way too.

Watching my life from my 14 year old self’s perspective was eye opening. Being brought back to a time before braces fixed my teeth, my acne was not quite under control, and I only wore band t-shirts and converse made me realize that I never quite got closure from this time in my life. This group of friends meant everything to me and I lost them.

I think that 14 year old Hayley would be really proud of me. I know that I’m proud of her.

Getting closure isn’t always about having a conversation or making amends. Sometimes it’s just knowing that it’s okay to leave the past in the past. It’s okay to be sad about what you’ve lost while still appreciating all that you have gained.

I’m thankful that I captured all of these little moments of my life. I wouldn’t have remembered the time my sister and I had a funeral for our goldfish, the way my dog Scooter snored, rocking baby Riley to sleep, or what we talked about at sleepovers.

I’m not quite sure yet what I will do with the 36 hours of videos that I have from 2007-2008 but I’m really glad that I have it.

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Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

 

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4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.comEaster Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Where Were You On 9/11?

Where were you on 9/11?

Hey friends,

Today we remember all of the men, women, and children who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. 17 years ago lives were lost and changed in a ways that can never be forgotten. As Americans, we felt lost and scared but united in standing against terrorism.

I wanted to share where I was 17 years ago today.

I was in the second grade at my elementary school. I really didn’t like my teacher but had a few friends in my class so I was relatively happy. I can’t remember what happened before school or even what subject we were working on that morning.

What I do remember was my teacher turning on our little classroom TV. I thought it was odd because if we were going to watch a movie she would have rolled in the big TV from the library. She asked us to sit in our reading circles on the ground and read quietly to ourselves.

I kept glancing at the TV thinking that it was a TV show or movie. It kept showing buildings on fire and airplanes. I honestly just thought it was an action movie before I heard a scream from the classroom next to mine. My teacher had already left the room and I could hear her comforting someone as they sobbed. I didn’t understand at the time what was happening.

A couple of days later we found out that the teacher in the classroom next to mine lost a son on 9/11. He was working that day and didn’t stand a chance when the plane crashed into his building.

On 9/11 I always remember her scream and hearing about her son over the following days. I remember how our little town in Michigan gathered together in support of her family. It really hit our community hard and has made this day unforgettable for me and my classmates.

Wherever you are today I hope you are able to take a moment to remember all of the lives that were lost 17 years ago today and all of the families who are still hurting.

Do you remember where you were on 9/11?

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