Learning About the Zest of Life: How Getting Lost in a Field Taught me A LOT

This would be a good college essay topic IMO.

by Claire Nunez

Editor-at-Large

You know that phrase, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? If you don’t, you might be living under a rock, or never have to deal with life throwing citrus fruits your way.  Anyway, life has been chucking lemons at me and I have just been trying to make some lemonade.

It is not easy.

A few days ago, my relationship fell apart — I not so surprisingly found out that long-distance does not work for the third time, I’ve been finding out who my real friends are, and I am taking about 8,000 finals.  It took me getting lost in a field in the middle of the Netherlands to finally learn that life was pelting lemons at me, but I have been trying my hardest to really make bank at my own lemonade stand.

So this all started when my dear friends Rachel and Andrew decided to come visit me in Amsterdam over my birthday weekend. I had no plans for my twentieth birthday, so this was fantastic. Everything was finally falling together.  I was going to see a bunch of different friends within a few weeks. I had finally solidified who my abroad friends really are.  My boyfriend was coming to visit me.  My classes were switching over and my schedule would be easier.  Amsterdam was really embracing me.  It took a little bit, but she came around.

I was excited and stressed because like, friends, but also finals were coming up. I was happy and anxious because like, again, friends, but my relationship was so obviously falling apart and I was ignoring it.  Everything seemed to be okay, but it wasn’t.  I eventually lost the man I was dating, and was stressed beyond belief about school, friends, life, and even things that didn’t matter to me.

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Then the lemons started coming. The city I had loved – Amsterdam, my Scorpio sister (we have the same birthday) – was literally raining all over me, constantly. She was pushing me down and kicking me into a canal.  I was lost, and completely upset.  I was so excited that my greatest friends were coming for me; it was a fantastic distraction from all the shit hitting the fan, but at the same time I was angry.  I really did not realize how bad things became until I went searching for an air mattress for my friends to sleep on.

Let me just say something about air mattresses in Amsterdam: they’re impossible to find.  I went to seven stores and none of them had them.  I was so confused. Are air mattresses not a thing here? I had friends here who own them, but they all needed them, so I would have to get my own.  I looked everywhere and right when I was about to give up, I found a store with a hella wide selection of air mattresses.  So, I took the metro and then the bus and then found myself in a field next to a highway and about thirteen wind turbines.  I was literally having the worst week of my life.  I had been heartbroken, exhausted, angry, hit by a bike, and had embarrassed myself too much – mostly because I attacked a Coke Zero can on a metro platform at midnight.  Really? How much more could life do to me?

I suddenly found myself in a field screaming.  Yes, screaming.  I was yelling at the world.  I was so frustrated.  I was sweaty and gross.  I was angry.  I yelled at my former boyfriend for all the frustrations he brought on.  I yelled at my friends for coming and me needing to get them an air mattress.  I yelled at myself for getting lost, for losing someone I cared about, for being ungrateful for the life and all of the people I am so lucky to have.  My life had fallen apart and here I was, just realizing it all. What was going on?

Sitting down in the mud was probably a mistake, which I only noticed later on, but I began to realize that it’ll all be okay no matter what.  I may have been in the middle of a field with no data and a lot of random people staring at me from their bikes and cars, but I was going to survive.  I was not going to let anything get me down.

I picked myself up, followed the road until I found the store I was looking for, and bought that damn air mattress.  If I could find that air mattress, I could do anything.  I marched out of that store, having spoken the worst Dutch I have ever heard, went right back to through that field and found the bus station about forty minutes later.  I made it fully intact with my trophy.  When I got on the bus, the driver laughed at me probably because I was absolutely disgusting, covered in mud, and as sweaty as anything.  I didn’t care.  I had my air mattress and I was going home triumphant.

This experience made me realize a lot. I am stronger than I ever thought I was.  I have been on my own for a lot of this journey.  I had to make new friends, reestablish myself in a new city, and learn how to live completely on my own.  It took a lot of lemons thrown at me in a short period of time to recognize that I really have just been given  lemonade this whole time.  I have this amazing experience at my fingertips and I really have been making the most of it.  Some of my best experiences in life have been here.  The worst memories honestly changed me.  It sounds weird, but I have learned so much from them all.  I now know my self-worth.  I know who values me and who doesn’t.  I am proud of myself.  I never thought I would be able to do something like this and here I am, air mattress in my arms, speaking Dutch, and LIVING.

I really would never wish getting lost in a field in the middle of nowhere on anyone, but at the same time, I am so glad I did.  My brain was cleared.  I discovered what I want and what I don’t and who I am.  I am strong; so strong.  I may have realized that my life is really breaking in a million pieces right now, but I have been doing okay.  I really have been putting on a good face and taking what comes at me.  I am so ready for whatever the rest of this semester has in store for me.  I hope you’re all ready for some lemonade, because I have a heck ton of lemons.

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