I leave for Glasgow in 19 days. As expected, I’m excited, and I smile to myself when I think about landing in Scotland and going to the place that will be my home for a year. I will be starting a journey I’ve been working towards for years, and I will be one step closer to my ultimate goal of moving to Scotland (possibly permanently).
It is, however, bittersweet.
I have made plans to go back to my undergraduate university for a few days to see my closest friends. In thirteen days, I will say goodbye to them all for at least a year, probably more. I will meet more people that will become friends, sure, but that also raises the possibility that my new friends will become more important than the old ones, which makes saying goodbye that much more difficult.
The internet will make it easier to stay in touch, but there’s nothing like living on the same campus and seeing each other every day, and this will be the longest I will go without that sort of environment with them since I met the bunch. Usually by this time of year I’m packing up to move back onto campus for cross country preseason and a week of carefree Netflix watching and goofing off before classes start.
I’ll miss that, and I will miss my friends, and I will miss my family. I have started to stare at the ceiling and think about them at night instead of sleeping.
I also think about the imposter syndrome, because like many academics, I’m sure I have it. Who am I, an English major from Pennsylvania that doesn’t even have any Celtic heritage (as far as I know), to enter a Celtic Studies program without any serious prior foray into the subject? Do I actually have the ability to do well in this graduate program as I did in high school and undergrad, or am I not cut out for higher academic thought? What if I cannot adjust to the system of higher education in the UK?
What if I am simply pretending, and I am meant to do nothing more than work in retail and pay off my student loans for the rest of my life?
As you can see, the “bitter” can start to spiral, fast, and cover up the “sweet.” I just try to bring myself back around and remind myself that there’s nothing wrong with trying, and there’s nothing wrong with following a dream, no matter how new.
I ask other questions.
Would I have been able to live with myself if I didn’t apply for this program and try it? Probably, but I would have regretted it.
Would I have been happy in an American institution in a two-year program designed all around literature, getting judged because I haven’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird” even though I have a BA in English, and adding on more debt? I would have made it work, but I would have been resentful, too.
Am I one to back down from the challenge? Not usually.
Do I lack confidence in my intelligence and ability to learn? Sometimes, but mostly that’s the thing I know I can count on.
Do I want to go to Glasgow, get better at British grammar/spelling, learn Gaelic, and spend my time getting to know a country I love and a subject that has so far been endlessly fascinating? Hell yes.
Those questions… well, they bring back the “sweet.”
It’s a juggling act, one that I think I’ve handled well for now. It’ll be different when I visit my friends, different when I’m actually packing my suitcase.
I wish I knew at what point I will adjust to the changes and no longer feel as if I am celebrating and grieving almost simultaneously.
On the other hand, I think I’ve come to realize that this is a part of life, and it is a part of life that makes things more exciting and also fulfilling. After all, if I can experience a wide range of emotions every day but still be mostly happy, I’ll never be bored, and I’ll be able to look at my life with less regrets.
What do you think, readers? Do you understand the “bittersweet” I’m feeling? Do you have any advice on handling it or a story to share?
I’d love to hear from you.
Your Bonnie Celtophile,