Exactly one month from today, I will be arriving at the airport in NY. I am so excited to see my friends and family, and to get back into the swing of things for my last semester of undergrad (that seems weird to say).
Leading up until then, we have many exciting things coming up. These things include a service experience where we will be helping a family rebuild their roof, excursion to Ha Long Bay, and Thanksgiving break when I will be traveling to Cat Ba Island.
There is so much to look forward to. Among these trips, I will also have more time to explore this beautiful city before I leave.
In reflecting on the past two months, I can’t stop thinking how much I have learned not only about this country, but also about myself. The most important lesson that I have learned is how to be kind to myself. Before coming to Vietnam, I struggled with anxiety and depression. This has not entirely gone away, but it definetely has improved.
Junior year was the most emotionally straining year I have ever dealt with. Between classes, extracurriculars, work, and not having great mental health, I was living more mechanically than ever before. Task to task, meeting to meeting. I was under the impression that since I was so busy, I did not have time to take care of myself. Lesson learned: you always have time to take care of yourself.
How do you explain to people that you are depressed when all they see every day is your smiling face? How do you tell your professor that you can’t come to class because you just cannot bear the idea of being around that many people today? How do you tell your friends that you can’t hang out because you just…can’t?
The answer for me? Be honest. In the beginning, I was very uncomfortable talking about mental health. I thought that people would think less of my abilities if they knew that I was not as happy as I let the world believe. I was worried that I would not be trusted with as many responsibilities.
Since I have started being more open about my mental health, I have been better able to deal with it.
Being in Vietnam has helped me become more confident in who I am. My anxiety does not control my life, but it does make me who I am and that is okay.
Being abroad has given me the space that I needed to be who I truly am. It has allowed me to take time to get to know myself and for once, put myself first.
Remembering that relaxing is an acceptable thing to do as a human being is a difficult thing for me to grasp. Normally, there isn’t even enough time for me to eat dinner. Here, I have the ability to read, write, listen to podcasts, and go on long runs.
Now I just need to remember to bring all of these lessons learned back with me. Being kind to yourself is the best thing you can do.
Photos seen in this post are from a trip we took last weekend to Trang An National Park in Ninh Binh province. For more photos, check out my Facebook album here: