I woke up with a sharp pain in my head, a heaviness in one side of my face and the inability to open my right eye.
Ah, that’s right, I remembered. The accident.
I had been in a car accident with five of my friends. Thankfully, I had gotten it the worst, with three broken bones on the left side of my face: the bone under my eye, my temple and my cheek bone.
This wasn’t the first time I had broken a bone in my face. Only two weeks prior, I had been in a bike accident that led to a scraped up forehead and cracked nose.
Fast forward two weeks, and that bike situation didn’t seem so bad.
Why me? I wondered. What did I do to deserve this?
I thought the combination of facial injuries was God’s sign that I was not meant to be a broadcast journalist, as I had so aspired to become during my educational journey at the University of Southern California.
My mom told me it was God’s sign for me to slow down. I had been living my life too fast. Like that lyft driver had done too little too late, it was time to hit the brakes.
Ultimately, after all the support and care I received from family and friends, both old and new, I realized this experience was to teach me how loved I was. I guess I had made an impact on more people than I had really realized in my 19 years of life. The real ones definitely showed up when I needed them most.
Once I left for home during winter break and didn’t have access to all my friends like I did in college, though, I had to learn to recover on my own. I had to learn to accept alone time, something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember, but hadn’t faced since the start of my university experience.
Now, I had no choice. I couldn’t go out. I didn’t have the energy to do very much. I had to sit and heal. On my own.
There were times it was the worst thing in the world. I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I cried, because differing opinions from doctors left me confused about whether I needed surgery or not.
In my darkest time, I pleaded for a higher power to bring me peace.
During this low point, I looked back on my previous obstacles. I had gotten through those. I had survived rhabdomyolysis (or, for those of us who speak English- my kidneys, heart and lungs began to fail due to overexertion during a high school backpacking trip). I had survived my first heartbreak (anyone that has overcome true heartbreak understands this to be no easy endeavor).
I was strong. With a continual focus on positivity, I could do this. After doctors told me I would probably miss a few weeks of my second semester due to a lengthy recovery, I made it back for those first weeks. I even recovered quickly enough for a little vacation with my family before that.
I proceeded to have the best semester of my life, attending spring break with my best friend from home in Miami, Coachella, my other best friend’s sister’s wedding and a trip to Las Vegas with a date that later became my boyfriend.
It’s been over a year since that accident. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows – I have had to deal with PTSD every time I enter a car, frequent nightmares and consistent headaches. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth the struggle to remain alive, especially for this life of excitement and gratitude.
Now, I find myself in yet another pickle. Like I said before, I’m not really one for alone time, but a pandemic that’s caused global anguis, anxiety and grief has taken over these past few months, and no one knows how far into the future it may extend.
I missed out on all those great things that made me so much happier to be alive last year. I didn’t make it to Cabo for spring break, and Coachella was postponed. Instead, I sit in my room alone for hours every night trying to go to sleep, only to have incredibly disturbing and vivid nightmares once I finally do.
Once again, a year after those traumatic personal events, I’m at a low point. This time, though, so is everyone else. I didn’t get it the worst like I had in my car accident. Friends of friends are dying. Or their parents or grandparents are dying. I, for once, got lucky.
I still deal with a heavy pain, though, for how this experience will affect our world more than it already has, and how I will continue to sit alone with some of my darkest thoughts and feelings for the next few months to come.
Once again, I look back on my other obstacles.
Once again, I call onto a higher power to give me a sense of peace.
And I realize I am strong. I can do this. We can all do this, and we will get through this. It’s going to take a lot of focusing on the positive, which won’t be easy for most of the time.
But after all I’ve been through, I know damn well and can assure you that rainbows always come after rain storms. With how heavy this storm has been, you should definitely feel excited for all the glorious rainbows to come. They’ll wrap all around the Earth, hugging us all with the most vibrant colors we’ve ever seen.
They will come, and with them a new sense of peace, gratitude and absolute joy for life.