On Settling

I had a conversation with my sister recently about college and about passion and careers. I tried my best to be a guiding voice, as much as I could be, but I also am very conscious that everyone must make their own mistakes. I know I would not be the same person if I hadn’t “wasted” my time or made the choices I did. So I try to keep that in mind every time I give someone advice. Usually, I end up giving myself advice and they just listen.

But talking with her really was like talking to a younger version of myself. She hasn’t decided quite where she wants to go to college, what her passion is, what she wants out of life specifically. And I can appreciate that on so many levels. (Most of which come from making those mistakes I was talking about.)

I told her that it didn’t matter what she chose to do, as long as she chose it with her whole heart. Because settling for anything less than your passion is killing everything unique and creative about you. That applying to college as a high school senior was doing something insane that would work out in your favor later. And with that in mind, I told her if she wanted to go out of state, do it. If she wanted to stay at home and commute, do it. If she wanted to major in underwater basket weaving, do it. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, so long as you get there.

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I remember being a senior in high school and thinking that I had everything figured out. I would go into medicine, wear the white coat and then devote my life to saving kids (I wanted to be a Pediatric Oncologist-aka children’s cancer doctor). I thought I could do that, have time for hobbies and maybe, just maybe do something great with my life. I looked into all girl colleges, co-ed ones out of state, universities in Ireland. I literally wanted to run away from Ohio and never come back.

I never left Ohio. And I don’t really regret that as much as I thought I might. Mind you, Ben and I are looking for law schools out of state, but if we stay here, it isn’t the end of the world. High school doesn’t really give you the sense of “everything will work out”. Instead it gives you unrealistic ideas about college, and incomparably ridiculous amounts of unnecessary stress.

I couldn’t find a way to convince my sister of this, and that’s okay. She’s got to find her own path. But in the end, I think that what I said was the only thing I could have said. Because I didn’t know it then, and I wish I would have.

You have to commit to an entire lifestyle when you pick a career. And if you want to live to the fullest, you’re going to need to find out what drives you enough to make that easier. Anything less than your passion isn’t living-it’s torture.

I’ve decided on a few proto-ideas about what makes a person passionate, that I will be honing throughout my life, so maybe if I have kids, I will be able to help them more than I could do for my sister, but for now, that is what I will leave her with.

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What do you want out of life?

What do you want your typical day to be like?

What things can you not do without?

What things do you not want to do without?

What are your hobbies? Favorite classes?

Who are your role models? Why?

Who are your favorite teachers? Why?

What do you want out of your career?

What will it take to make you happy?

What would you do first if you were given a super-power?

What kind of super power would it be?

Here Be Dragons

Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to remind yourself that it’s okay, that you’re only suffering a minor setback and that life will continue on, as it indeed always does. You may not want life to change, or approve of it, you may desire it more than you desire anything else in the world. But at some point, change comes for us all and the only thing you have to do is be ready.I wrote a piece about driving a while ago, about how I just couldn’t seem to, and about how it was a source of great shame for me. I finished the piece by saying that my New Year Resolution was to drive more, to be free of the bonds that strapped me into the passenger seat. It has been a week since the year started and what have I done to accomplish that goal?

 

 A bit actually.

The second or third I drove to the store. I can’t say that I drove back from said store, but I darn sure drove there. And my husband and I talked about it and I realized that if I just kept to the quick and simple stuff, I would never succeed in my goal at all.

But I’m not going to lie to you. This is not easy for me.

Yesterday, I had work and I usually have my husband take me in, so that I can just focus on work and he can hang out at the school and get stuff done. We’re on break, which makes that sentence completely illogical, but we’re an active sort of people who quite like the academic scene. He hadn’t slept well and asked if I could take myself in. I immediately burst into tears, the panic having surged through me faster than a tornado. I felt woozy, nauseous and above all, I felt ashamed. Why couldn’t I just get over it? What was wrong with me? So on our way home yesterday, after he graciously picked me up, I asked him timidly if he wouldn’t mind coming with me either today or Friday as my passenger. He agreed, saying he wanted to start working out anyway and this would force him to do so. Last night, I went to bed nervous, exhausted and wondering what I’d done.

This morning, he again told me he hadn’t slept well and I let him sleep a little longer. I prepared my stuff, got my coffee and took the dog out. I looked over the parking lot and once again got the panicked sort of emotions and sensations. I knew that I would have a difficult time talking myself into it and an even worse time if I talked myself out of it. So I hauled myself up to our apartment and grabbed a few more things (let’s be real here- I grabbed a bunch of good luck charms), waited for my husband to finish getting ready and then marched myself down to the car. My hands were shaking, I felt sick and I started the car.

Wouldn’t you know it, rush hour was waiting for me.

I can’ tell you the curse words that streamed in my head. How dare other people be on the road when I was trying to get over my fears? I mean, didn’t they know that I was going to be driving?

And I realized that there was no other place, no other time, that could possibly make my journey more ideal. It was rush hour that gave me a headache, made me a nervous passenger. It was the highway that made my heart race. And that sounds like the settings for the battleground to me. 

I made it to the school, having managed to drive on two separate highways and through campus traffic. I didn’t throw up, pass out, or any of the terrible things that I assumed would happen. I didn’t crash, didn’t die and didn’t break down. I didn’t even say that chant from the previous post. I marched myself up to work with a smile on my face, saying hello to everyone I met. I know that I’m not done for the day-my shift has only really just begun and I’m still nervous about the drive home, but when I grabbed one of my good luck pieces from my pocket, I had to smile pretty fiercely. I mean, just look at how fitting it is.

  

One week down, fifty one more to go.

Thankfulness, Day 22

Yesterday I left you all, and myself, with the thought that the sun will rise again. Normally, the husband and I wake up with the sun. Its rays come into our room and we are greeted by it. As I sit here and work on some homework and what nots, I’m looking out the window to our balcony and watching the clouds. Today is the kind of clear that makes everything seem so crisp. The clouds are huge cotton candy, the sky itself is the blue you read about. There are pockets of sunshine which dance on the puddles from the rain last night. 

  At night, even though I live in the city and it’s hard to see, I know there are millions and billions of stars. Planets gleaming down at me, comets, asterods and space debris. The blackened sky is velvet, the way I always knew it would be. The moon is up there too, a disc of bright hope, drawing everyone in waves. The clouds disappear gradually so that you really feel like if you try hard enough, you could see all the way to the edge of the universe.

  Isn’t that one of the first things you imagine? Being up there, amongst the ancestors and balls of gas? What’s out there? Are we alone? And so you begin to plan a way to find out.

Today, I am thankful for dreams. Not necessarily the kind you have in REM, but the kind that allows your imagination to run freely. The kind you get in trouble for having while you’re supposed to be focused on the task at hand. The kind that gives you fuel when you’ve forgotten why it is you struggle through the day. You give yourself into them, and you find yourself remembering the way you used to feel when your dreams were simple.

It’s easy to look at the past with rose colored glasses. To see what you had when you had it and wish you had it back. But the thing is, what you have now, what I have now, is what I was working for then. I didn’t know how hard it would be, I didn’t know what struggles were waiting for me. I didn’t know what great moments I would have. But I know that one day I will look back on the now, smile and shake my head. I can’t see all the messages and signs that the good things and bad things are teaching me. I can’t see where I’m going, I don’t have all the answers. But I know that I have new dreams and they will take me where I need to go. Until then, I just need to work hard and remember the value of dreams.

  

Thankfulness, Day 9

  
I first read The Fellowship of the Ring when I was in middle school. I was captivated by the story, even if it was just a smidge over my head. But this particular portion of thebook was lost to me completely. It wasn’t until the movie came out and the internet boomed that I even recalled ther was a poem. This is the most widely recalled line, and for good reason.

Today’s theme is aimlessness.

A few years ago, I did a facebook post on this very day about being thankful for being aimless. And I found it today, believing that I had been a genious. You see, in the end, it isn’t really the destination, is it? It’s always been about the journey. But so many footsteps are solidifying for me that I am enthralled by my own wanderings.

I started college Autumn 2011. I had to immediately withdraw (within the first week) because I listened to my peers and drank far too many energy drinks and my kidneys couldn’t handle it. I was in the ER multiple times, my PCP (Personal Care Physician) too and it was determined that my energy drink habits were killing me. Before that fall, I’d spent my summers drinking Monster BFCs (Big Effing Cans-the equivalent of 4 Monsters in one can) and Rockstars and Venoms (these were my favorite). I was always seen with one in my hand. Now it’s coffee and the occasional soda for me, marginalized by gallons of water.

I didn’t return to college (or technically even start college) until Winter 2012. We were still on quarters then. I was a bio major, determined to be a pediatric oncologist. My entire life was dedicated to this. Only my heart didn’t seem to be. For two years, I fought with deciding if I was doing the right thing with my life. Ultimately, I wasn’t. I had the heart for the job, the brains too, but it wasn’t what I longed for. And so I became an anthro major.

Even then my wandering (and wondering) was not over. What kind of anthropologist would I be? I couldn’t decide, wanted to do everything and ultimately picked cultural. But that isn’t to say I haven’t had a couple moments where physical sounded like a much smarter idea. Even this left some questions.

What would I focus on? People was far too broad a focus, culture wouldn’t work either. Religion. Now that could work. But what about it? Eventually, I landed on something both practical and interesting. Religious Extremism and Violence as a Diplomatic Interference. Now that sounds snappy, doesn’t it? I only really settled into that idea. Now comes the new wave of questions about jobs and such.

But as I said: it’s really all about the journey, anyway, isn’t it? Sometimes the lights have to go out, the path needs to disappear before we can find ourselves. There isn’t really a way to make it easier, or less scary. You just have to take the plunge. Interesting.