Dear ESTRI people,
Here I am today, at a new crossroad of my life about to start a brand new chapter of it, and I feel such a need to talk to you.
I think the reason why I have such a desperate need to write to you is because some of you are all back together in Lyon, and the simple thought of knowing you’re all reunited – like a family (because to me, that’s what we are) – makes me miss you already. But life is about moving forward and therefore, one day, about leaving the nest. But strangely, this nest is harder to leave than the one that my actual blood family constitutes. And I reckon you’ll understand why very soon… but first and in order for you to fathom everything, let me take you back in time, a few years ago when my entire life started to collapse…
It was a Sunday afternoon. Given that Sunday already is – to me – one of the saddest days of the week, I was far from imagining it could get any worse. It was Sunday and we had just finished our respective slice of blueberry tart when my mum and my dad told us about my father’s cancer. A week passed and it was Sunday again. We were also just about to finish lunch when my mother told us she was leaving… and she did.
It was five years ago… right before the start of the new academic year.
You know… these things are hard to deal with and live with, but they’re part of life. This summer, someone told me life was mostly composed of tough and tragic times, which was why we really needed to appreciate the good ones more and even maybe attempt to create them. Hearing this made me think of life as one huge tragedy, but you know what?! Despite all this shit life has thrown at me for the past few years, I’m still here and I refuse to believe life is a tragedy. Life is beautiful and even magic sometimes, if only we’re willing to see it.
But let’s get back to the story, shall we?
I went back to boarding school that year… this place made me stronger, even though all I thought it did was destroy me… I hated it for all the stupid rules we had to stick to and I never truly did connect with anyone there, for I was lost and depressed and simply couldn’t appreciate and enjoy the time with these few people who deeply cared about me. Should they randomly stumble upon this letter and read it today, I want them to know I’m sorry. It wasn’t you. It was me. And maybe the atmosphere too… I mean, I’ve always had issues opening up to people and being part of a ‘high school group’ and so on, because you know… that’s how it was. You needed to be part of a group. Any group. Just any group. It didn’t really matter. You simply couldn’t be the weirdo who was seeking solitude and more from life than the high school shitty dogma and status quo!
In short, the problem I faced in high school was that I couldn’t be myself. And I wasn’t fine with that. Of course, I wasn’t! Who would be stupid enough to be?! No offence, but apparently more people than you’d think!
So there was this quite unbearable life in high school that I hated, there was my dad’s cancer back at home and… an absent if not inexistent mother… and maybe naturally then, I fell into depression. There was way too much darkness in my life at the time, way too much pain in my heart and monsters in my head. I won’t lie to you… I was a mess. And my family made me see so many doctors and psychologists, when all I needed was to be left alone with myself and with nature and stillness. I needed to breathe and so I started recovering thanks to my horse I would look after and ride every day for more than two years… but now, even he is somehow gone…
Once high school was over, I felt free. Free from the past and free from pain. Probably because I knew I was going to do something that was more like me, something I loved and also mostly because I knew I was going to leave… and that is when you, lovely ESTRI people, came into play.
In the first year, we barely had time to learn to know each other because we all went to our Anglo-Saxon countries and yet, no matter how far we were from one another, we kept on connecting with each other. That was the beginning of an amazing and magic chapter of my life. After all, if it wasn’t for ESTRI and this socio-cultural/professional experience abroad, I probably wouldn’t be where I am at today… about to reunite with this country I fell in love with two years ago, i.e. the UK.
However, I keep thinking that the magic truly occurred in the last two years of our training, when we were all at university sharing every bit of our daily lives: our laughs, our tears, our joys, our fears, well everything.
I am truly and deeply going to miss everyone at ESTRI… To be honest, I miss them all already.
Describing how my last three years at ESTRI felt like is hard because I’ve never felt so much in my entire life, and yet very simple too… In a few words, ESTRI was a home to me when I didn’t have any, a family when mine was tearing itself apart, and a shelter when I needed protection and was seeking peace in the storm. I don’t know if it felt this way because it’s a small school and there are not many of us… I don’t know. Somehow maybe, but I also believe there is something greater about this place, something bigger than us all, that will never be completely describable.
And leaving all this behind today is like finishing a really great chapter of an awesome book: the only thing you want to do is read it again… but you have to keep going, you need to know what’s going to happen next…
It’s true what they say, you know, about how you meet lifetime friends at university… At ESTRI, I even got close to people I never thought I’d be close to one day. All of them are family to me and I feel so grateful to know them and to have shared a couple of years of this life with them, to have walked by their side. They’re all forever in my heart… I want to make sure they know this. And I’d love to address a few words to all of them personally, but if I do, this letter’s going to turn into a novel, so I’ll only drop some lines to a bunch of them…
First of all, to one of my best friends ever, Martin, I want to say this: ‘I have my heart on my sleeves all the time, which makes it easy to grab, but the heart is a very complex organ that is never easy to open or read… I opened my heart to you, I told you my story, and I never had a doubt you would ever hurt it. You’ve always handled it with great care, which proves how well you know me. I’m going to miss so many things about the last three years spent together, but as you told me on my birthday this year, I’m about to make one of my biggest dreams come true so I’d better make the most of it and look forward to everything. And I will. But as you also said, there’ll be obstacles and challenges, and starting this new chapter of my life without you as present in it as before is definitely one of them. It scares me… You told me I would overcome them all and I’d get wiser and stronger, and I believe you. You and I know you’re (almost) always right ^^… I guess what I’m endlessly trying to say is I’ll miss you and that’s going to leave a bloody hell of a big hole in my heart. Take care, my dear friend, and keep on being your beautiful, gentle and amazing self!’
To Julie, my adorable and ambitious Julie, I want to say this: ‘Follow your heart. Don’t listen to anything but it, don’t listen to anyone but yourself. For you will always know best what’s right for you!’ To Pauline, who’s been another great listening ear and open heart, and a bit of a honorary big sister, I want to say ‘Thank you! Keep on dreaming and keep on working hard. You’ll never get anything any other way :). Be strong and above all, be happy!’ To Marie “Do.”, I want to say thanks for the good laughs and the good talks and this: ‘You can achieve so much, you’re incredible and I’m so happy I got to know you and become your friend. ‘
And at last, to Romain, who once sent me this in a message: ‘It’s easy to be an amazing person once; it’s harder to keep on being one. But eventually, all you have to do is follow your heart. And I know you do know that :).’ To him, I wish more people could see how truly amazing he is, I wish more people will go find out about what’s under the appearance, and I wish he believes it himself too. ‘You’re a gem of this world and yes, we all have our flaws, but they make us human, and it’s ok. Fully embrace who you are because it’s beautiful :)!’
I promised you all a tearing goodbye letter and my guess is I’ve been pretty good at it so far! Now, it’s time to write down the last few lines of this beautiful chapter… When I turn back the pages today, I see all that we’ve been though – leaving, graduating, starting off – together, as one big family, and it makes me feel this great bound that’s tying us all together. It’s beautiful and powerful… can you feel it too? My guess is this bound is one that won’t easily be broken, and it makes me very glad.
It’s been a beautiful ride, ESTRI :)! Take care!
PS: my dear ESTRI people, you are some of the sweetest… ❤❤❤ (This is just a proof for the most sceptical!)… and Ophély, you’re such a sweetheart, thanks for this video ! 😘