Writing

Autumn Is A Time Of Reflection And New Beginnings

The cold weather has finally arrived, and this means that the autumn season has begun. Autumn isn’t just the time of year when we start thinking about cozy sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes; it’s also a time of reflection. Autumn is a season when we look back on the year that has passed and ponder how to improve our lives moving forward. As the leaves begin to change colors and fall to the ground, we find ourselves reflecting on how our year went through the hourglass of nostalgia.

I lost a lot of friends this year, yet held out hope for a call that never came. I was there when they needed to talk. I was there when they needed to laugh, even if it hurt my stomach. Autumn is a time of reflection, trying to make sense of the things that happened. It’s hard to describe how you feel about someone who is no longer a part of our lives; it’s like you’re always waiting for them. I am overwhelmed with feelings of these missing relationships, while conflicted with the betrayal of abandonment.

I’m not sure if I miss the friendships as much as my sense of belonging. To be honest, it felt like I was always on the outside looking in. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, but when you’re constantly surrounded by people you only see at summer camp it’s hard to develop deep bonds with them. I feel like my sense of belonging has changed because now I’m able to focus on cultivating relationships without feeling out-of-place.

It seems the older I get, the harder it is for me to make friends. I feel like there’s less opportunity for friendships in my life as I age. Maybe as we get older, we have different priorities. Perhaps we are more focused on our careers, our family, or other commitments, than we are about making friends for fun. There are fewer chances for meeting people with shared interests in adulthood. Adult responsibilities can also be isolating—an added burden when you’re trying to meet people. Friendships change over time and if you don’t actively work to maintain them, they will eventually fade away.

This year I returned to my old summer camp where I used to have a large group of people I called my friends. It was still the same camp, with many of the same people, but everything was different now that I was older. I realized then that this place would never be what it once was because now it was all commercialized. It seemed as if nobody knew me anymore, even though we have all known each other for decades. Returning for a visit was another reminder of those times in my youth when no one wanted to hang out with me or talk to me at all, which made me sad. I realized later that maybe these people just weren’t really friends after all; they were just people who tolerated each other for those two summer months every year.

I became enchanted by false hope that this time, my experience would be better. I constantly told myself each time I returned over the years that things would be different, but they never were. In fact, as the years went by, things only got worse. It soon became clear to me when I realized that no matter how much I try, the past will never be undone, only repeated. Although the emotional wounds are healing, the scars serve as a reminder not to let myself fall for empty promises again. It’s so hard to know what is worth fighting for, if anything at all. It’s easier to push the thoughts away and continue living day-to-day in order to cope with the current reality than to dwell on what could have been, or what could still be, even if it’s false hope.

We can walk down the paths we used to roam, recounting memories in our minds. These glimpses into our past serve as bittersweet reminders that no matter where our lives take us, those who have helped shape it will always be there to remind us of our own humble beginnings. Shadows fall, memories fade, and time slips by, and I find myself further away from the people I used to know. So, maybe this was how things were supposed to turn out?

You cannot go back, but you can look ahead and see what awaits you. You might not know what lies ahead on your path; but take solace in knowing that once you start on your journey, you’ll never know if you could’ve done anything differently until you get there. That’s what being human means – making mistakes, getting hurt, but walking away with your dignity intact. As autumn draws near and you reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future, remember that every season brings change. Sometimes winter feels like an eternity away when the leaves are starting to fall and frost coats all of your memories. Just remember that spring is only months away – coming again soon to awaken our roots with its promise of hope.

I thought I could rise above. I thought that one day, I would be able to see the good in things, or at least not be so hard on myself. I thought it was just some childish naivety which made me sad when people were mean to me. I assumed they were just trying to make themselves feel better by putting other people down. Now that I’ve seen more of life and experienced more pain, it feels like these attitudes are self-preserving instincts which can never be forgotten.

I am terrified that I will never have friends. I am terrified that if something happens to Amelia, I will be alone for the rest of my life. When people ask me what my biggest fear is, I tell them. Then they tell me that it’s not so bad to be alone. That if anything, it’s better to enjoy your independence than be weighed down with something you can’t control. But, this isn’t about being alone or not being alone, this is about having hope for the future, something which seems to be slipping away from me every day.

What will I do with my life? Where am I going? Is this all I am, and all I ever was? Am I still a scared little girl who found success early in her career, only to one day vanish? These are all thoughts and questions that go through our minds at this time of year. It’s important to remember that no matter how much we want to change something about ourselves, everything has happened for a reason and there is no turning back. We have all done things that we regret or wish we could take back, but you can’t dwell on those things because they happened for a reason. It’s up to us now on how we live our lives and what choices we make going forward.

Colophon
The image used in this piece is titled The Colors Of Fall.

Asides
In Another Set Of Chances I’d Take The One’s I’ve Missed | I’m Going Through Changes | The Art Of Saying Goodbye | Somewhere I Feel Free | The Lost Girl Was Meant To Be Found | The Fear I Cannot Hide | Never Fear Failure | Nightly Misadventures | When Is It Time To Let Go | From Ties That Bind To Freedom: How I Escaped The Cycle Of Codependency

6 Comments

  • mydangblog

    I hear what you’re saying. I don’t have a lot of friends myself–and I consider my husband my best friend so if anything happened to him, I don’t know what I’d do. One of my closest friends is my aunt, and she’s currently in the hospital with covid (just went in last night by ambulance) and I’m scared to death right now.

    • Thomas Slatin

      I have no family (aside from my mom, though our relationship is very strained and her health is failing), and I married Amelia simply because she is my best friend. For us, it’s not so much a romantic relationship as it is a friendship one, which has honestly been the best relationship I’ve ever had.

    • Thomas Slatin

      I wouldn’t say that things just fell into place for me, as it took a lifetime of actively planning and pursuing my dreams through hard work, determination, and perseverance. When faced with adversity, I simply had to become more determined. But in the end, in a sense, it worked out for me and Amelia.

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