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So You Survived, Now What?

It’s the question that I ask myself daily. There’s no guide book or hard and fast rule on what it looks like. It is different for everyone I imagine. For me? I came to terms with the fact that I would very likely die before I saw the age of 21, I accepted that and when it didn’t happen? Once it became somewhat evident that a life I had never planned to have was suddenly happening? I realized I had zero idea what that would entail.

When you survive everyone expects you to feel grateful and thankful and so very happy to be alive. And while that is true, the frank reality is for every event you survived there are five people who didn’t make out quite as lucky and that can mess with a person’s head. Survivor’s guilt is what it’s commonly referred to as, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. The feeling of being the wrong choice for the universe to save, surviving when others (even friends of yours) did not. The pressure to do everything perfectly, make all the correct choices to somehow prove you are worthy of being the one who lived. Second guessing every decision you make, every single thing you do because you know there are people who never got the chance so you better make the most of it, make it worth being the one alive.

So you survived now what?

Now comes the hard part, actually living. It seems so simple, but surviving can overshadow every thought you have and ever decision you make. What does one do about that? You just keep living. One foot in front of the other. You feel your way through, even when its suffocating, even when you feel like the universe chose wrong in saving you and not your friends. You keep living because you can, because you have the opportunity. You keep living because so many cannot. The difference between living and surviving is a small but mighty difference. Surviving isn’t a choice, living however? That’s a choice you have to make every single day, and maybe one day it wont be so hard. So now I am 26, a sophomore in college, a child advocacy and policy major with hopes of being a social worker. Things I never thought I would ever say or do. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and try to live a life that doesn’t seek to prove that I am inherently worthy of being alive but somehow go on to live a life where I am at peace with surviving, acknowledging all the emotions that come along with it.

Getty image by Boonyachoat