First of all, I apologize for the radio silence. However, let me tell you that there has been a good reason for it. This post will also be the last one in a while and the most personal so far because sometimes life doesn't go as planned - something gets in the way and suddenly you find yourself in a situation which you were not prepared for. After a week of emotional turmoil, I am now ready to cut my stay in DC short and am getting ready to return back home. Even though this was my own decision, it does break my heart to leave my friends, this city, the life I built for myself during these past four months. I wasn't prepared to leave this early, there was and still is so much I wanted to experience here but at the same time it is impossible for me to stay. Thus, I will go - with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes but also with extreme gratitude for all that I have had the privilege to experience here.
One thing I have to say about the Americans in difficult situations is that they will show you their support, sometimes maybe even in a way Finnish people might not be able to. Again, I'm making generalizations and I do have amazing friends back in Finland who have supported me through these tough times but since it is easier for American people in general to speak up, they will do just that and to the simple question of "How are you holding up?" you actually feel like you are allowed to reply with honesty. Even though DC is one of those cities on the east coast where peer pressure is stronger than anywhere else in the world and the need to succeed overcomes everything, my friends have supported my decision and have actually congratulated me for taking care of myself by leaving rather than by trying to stick it out when it was clearly not in my best interest. Funny how you can feel like such a loser one minute and like a winner the next - all you need is someone saying that they are still proud of you and that they admire you for your courage to stand up for yourself. So be brave, people!
I am going home in less than a week and my emotions are mixed, to say the least. I know I will miss this place more than I can even understand right now and I know that the significance of my time here will become clear only later. However, I do believe that things happen for a reason and if something, I can say with a clear conscience that I have no regrets. I wouldn't have changed a thing (ok, a couple of days I'd be more than happy to forget) and I feel like this experience has once again taught me, not only about myself but about people in general and also about what life in the States is like. Granted, I've only seen it from one point of view and believe me, this is one big and diverse country but I feel like I've been really blessed to have had this experience. Life is strange - when you least expect it, it'll throw something in your way that you never would have seen coming. If something, I've also learned that things tend to work out eventually, one way or the other and that is why I am not as intimidated by the great unknown that is my future as I could be, being in the situation that I now find myself in. Maybe you get used to insecurity with age or maybe tough times are there so that you can see that you can rise above and come out a winner.
To conclude, I have to thank all my dear friends both in Finland and in America for supporting me, for giving me the strength and courage to follow my dreams and for staying by my side when those dreams didn't turn out to be as wonderful and rosey as expected. I got a text message from a dear friend of mine last night and I really think he struck a chord with these words: It's better to regret something you did than something you didn't do. I have been living by those words and now I that I prepare myself for what seems to be an endless row of goodbyes and for letting go, I can hold my chin up and say that if anything, I will never regret my time here. I have laughed, I have cried and above all, I have lived.