• Romy St. Hilaire

Turning to the next chapter

Prior to the pandemic I had this nagging feeling for months that some massive change was going to happen. I couldn't explain it, I just felt like a shift was coming. I thought it was a personal shift, I kept describing this feeling to my friends like the page was turning to a new chapter in my life. I was at a job that was becoming unhealthy for my well being and I was trying to find what my next steps in life should be. I considered traveling, maybe volunteering or teaching abroad, maybe grad school or maybe a new city to start fresh. I just had this underlying urge that something is going to change in a big way in my life.

I tried to prepare myself, I put out eggs into lots of different baskets for what that possible change could be. I applied to various opportunities and jobs, I started the process of applying to grad school and I looked at different cities that I'd be willing to relocate to. I knew I wanted to keep learning, growing and exploring but my life in Boston felt so mundane and bleak. My imagination wanted me to live on the edge of adventure, jet setting and connecting with people far and wide but I found myself on the redline as Bostonians tried their best to avoid eye contact on the 7:30am commute. I felt deprived, like my youth and potential was slipping away from me and it was crushing my spirit.

By the beginning of 2020 the tide was starting to shift. I was trying to be more intentional about my life, my mentality and the opportunities ahead of me. That fall I put in a LOT of work to set certain things up for my future with the hope that I will find my way. I applied to masters programs at only 3 schools in Boston and told myself if I am meant to stay in this city lord then I will get accepted to one of these programs. I was applying to a completely new field, Urban Planning and sacrificed for months to take the GRE's and put my applications together. I was blessed along that journey in so many ways and at the beginning of 2020 I was patiently waiting to hear back about decisions.

I still had this feeling like something was going to change, I thought that change was going to just affect my life...little did I know how massive that change would be and that everyone's life would be different. The pandemic hit, at first it was a cautious headline in everyone's peripheral but soon it was glaring and dead center at the forefront of all of our attention. Within the second week of March everything changed and the world was shut down. It took me a long time to get out of my own head and life to really realize how drastic this shift was. I think I still struggle processing what some people unfortunately did not survive. I am grateful everyday for the simplicity of my life and the magic of each new day.

In the midst of a global pandemic I was still focusing on myself, my life and my immediate community. That's all any of us could really do in a time like that but I was thankful for all that I had. I found out about all my grad school decisions not too soon after the start of the pandemic and got into two incredible programs. I accepted the offer from my first choice and what I thought was a pipe dream to even consider, the Masters in City Planning program at MIT. Like WHAAAT!! I couldn't believe it when I got the phone call notifying me of my acceptance, I couldn't believe it when I got my offer letter and a year later it's still hard for me to believe it.

Everything was changing, massively all at once. It was A LOT! I didn't know how to process or cope but I was so excited for new opportunities and direction in my life. As the spring unfolded the world quickly realized that this pandemic was here to stay and was growing stronger everyday. I was quarantining for months and all the dreams I had for that year were quickly shattered by the reality of our situation. My grad program thankfully gave us the option to defer a year and after months of consideration I decided to wait a year to realize my dreams.

It's been a full year since the lockdown from the pandemic. My life doesn't look too different from last year but there are lots of exciting changes around the corner. God willing I will be starting a new adventure in the fall and it's such a source of joy for me to think about being back in a learning environment surrounded by people with shared interests and the passion to achieve their dreams. I am thankful for the small and big things in my life. But it has been a HARD year, I was unemployed for months and then had to try to figure out what I am going to do for this year of uncertainty without compromising my health or putting my loved ones at risk. God was with me at every step but I struggled in many ways to take steps forward.

Through those challenges I was able to really cultivate my independence more. I feel like I am walking into my grown lady shoes more and more. I turned 27 which when I was 10 I thought was THE age of adulthood. I imagined myself as a lawyer driving a convertible grey jaguar, with a husband and a house ( I was really inspired by Legally Blonde lol). I have none of those things and I feel like 27 is still so young but having the consciousness of my inner child being in awe of where my life is at 27 is a really special feeling. I have experienced and realized things I couldn't have even imagined and there is so so much more to realize.

Throughout the pandemic I have been leaning more into being vulnerable. I've struggled with that part of myself because for so much of my life I have had to be strong. I know strength and courage are not things that I lack but vulnerability is. So during this time locked inside with my own company I have been caring for her and encouraging her to have a strong back but a soft front. I've also come to understand that not everyone deserves my vulnerability but I still need to cultivate the practice of sharing those parts of myself. This blog is a big part of that, I want to be able to share my thoughts, personality, passions in long form for others to engage with. I love social media but I want to unlearn some of the toxic validation that I've come to associate with those platforms. I want to share and learn from others in ways that give context and allows fuller expression of self.

I am still a work in progress but I am so thankful to have folks reading and supporting me. I will keep sharing from time to time and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Let me know what major changes you experienced during the pandemic and how do you feel like you've changed or have tried to change as a result of this tectonic shift in the world? Thanks for reading about my thoughts and experiences and looking forward to sharing more.


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