America: Day 4, or, “It’s okay to be sad because you’re sick on your birthday”

Today is my only full day in DC, so I wanted to be out enjoying the city. But when I woke up, I felt really crummy. I don’t know whether it was a bug, overheating, or something having to do with food, but I felt awful.

Whenever I tell anyone about my trip, their reaction is inevitably, “wow, that’s amazing! You’re going to have such a great time!” That expectation is in contrast with how I feel about the trip, though. I know I will have lots of adventures, and there will be ups and downs. But I’m more ambivalent about the trip than I am eager. I’m going to all these new places, and new places are scary and uncomfortable for me! I frequently feel like I would much rather be back home in Amherst or Boston, or spending time with Nicole.

So, I’m glad this trip is happening, because I will emerge from it with valuable experiences. But on days like today when I’m not feeling well, I am reminded of a 1996 Sesame Street episode, in which characters repeat again and again to Gabi, “It’s okay to be sad because you’re sick on your birthday.” It’s okay to feel sad when everyone expects you to be happy, especially if you’re sick or tired or stressed. Don’t worry, though. There are few things that are as exciting as feeling healthy for the first time after you’re sick. I expect Pittsburgh to be fantastic.

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