Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Decisions, Dreams and Degrees.

At any given point in my life, I am unsure about most things. I am only ever sure about two things: one being that I love books and two being that if I were stranded on an island and had to listen to one CD for the rest of my life, it would be Simple Plan's "No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls." Don't ask me why, it's just something I used to think about when making my short treks between Roseville and Chico. That CD was always in my car - not necessarily in the CD player, but always in the car. (God, I am kind of glad I don't have a car here after thinking about what I used to think about on drives.)

I have a lot I want to accomplish in my short life. I have many ambitions. Will I accomplish all of them? Probably not. If I do, then I will be a hairdresser with a phlebotomy license working on a PhD in American literature while earning a bit extra by being a bartender. Also, I would work in publishing and be a literary agent. That seems quite unrealistic to me. Traveling is equally important to me and so I may just have to give up on one of those dreams. (It'll probably be the phlebotomy dream - I don't think I could ever take blood from a kid. Or a person whose vein was hard to find. Or anyone. Come to think of it, I think this was a dream I developed when trying to get over a fear of needles.)

I thought I'd share a few stories about when I realized my dreams and my way of living were important to me. 

There was a point - during the height of my phlebotomy dream (it's important, you'll see why) - when I wanted to drop out of college. I couldn't take it. I'd gotten nearly straight A's my first two semesters, just missing the mark in Philosophy with a B+. I'd set the standards high for myself. I was on the debate team. I went to a few weekly club meetings. I got inducted into my first honor society. I had started dating a new guy at an inopportune moment. But I wasn't happy. I was teetering on that edge of trying to make my own college life while holding onto my high school life. It wasn't working. I had a few falling outs with my high school friends. I started applying for transfers and actual jobs. I was looking into phlebotomy courses. There was a point during all of this that I actually ran away for a bit. My roommates from this time still joke about it to this day ("We didn't see Brittany for three weeks.") They think I was being quiet and coming in really late/leaving really early or something like that. I told one professor I was going. No, I wasn't gone for three weeks, but I was gone for more than a few days. It's not like my unhappiness was crippling - it only lasted about six weeks. Before those six weeks I was incredibly happy and after those six weeks were some of the best months of my life. 

I'd also recently gotten the doctor's approval to ditch my back brace making it a difficult transition from weird girl in a back brace to raging beauty (haha, not that that's true, but that's what you feel like when you no longer have device that's pressing your boobs down onto your rib cage). Let's just blame all of my life problems on my back brace. Not that it didn't bring about good things - my freshman GPA for example. And the guy I was dating at the time always joked about when he knew me in a backbrace. Still, he remembered my face when I showed up my sophomore year of college without it. Not really a great way to start a conversation though. "Oh, you were the girl in the back brace last year?"

At some point between the start of it and running away, I got offered a job. A full-time, permanent position (the only one I have ever been offered to this point in my life). I told two people: the aforementioned professor, the one who also knew I ran away. He told me to stay here and wait out my storm. The other person I told, not a professor, but a mentor of mine, told me to take it, comparing it to the end of the fifth season of "The Hills" (to this day I don't know what that means). I think those are the only two people I had told until I wrote this blog post. I didn't take the job. It was far away from home. I didn't transfer schools either. I decided to suffer through.

I am so glad I did. Like I said, the next few months became some of the best of my life. I learned a lot about myself. I opened myself to the possibility of grad school (which is still in my future!), I fell more in love with American literature, I did a lot of writing, I traveled a bit around the state of California, I met some great people. The most important thing was that I developed new dreams. At the time, I was dating a seemingly ambitious person who wanted to go on to get his PhD (I think he really awoke something within me and I think I stole his dream. I blame his current un-ambitiousness on my thievery!) I went from being a lost soul to narrowing my passions and the life path I wanted to take. For a long I time, I'd wanted to work in book publishing but never believed I could do it until that point in my life. (It's still a dream! If the opportunity arose, I would jump at it). 

But I had finally made a decision about what I wanted to do when I graduated. I was going to go into book publishing!

Then everything bit me in the ass. It was just about a year after my six bad weeks of college. I was still dating the same guy but I was trying my hardest to break up with him. (When you are just leaving your teens, it's really hard to break up with someone in their mid 20s who is prone to crying whenever he thinks the two of you have a problem). One day, we were talking about the future and I was trying to make it clear that he didn't really have a part in it (while being subtle, of course). I told him that I was going to go live in New York City for a few years after college to pursue publishing and then maybe move to London and just be on the go during my younger years. (I still want to do that. I want to travel and move and go). 

His response? It was something like "But that's not part of the plan. You are supposed to go and get your phlebotomy certificate and stay in one place. I want to travel, but I have to have a place to go back to. I can't be a nomad." 

I hadn't talked about being a phlebotomist for at least a year by this point. Maybe even since before we had started dating (we'd known each other longer). He'd planned my life for me based on the eighteen-year-old he had met nearly two years before. The girl he'd met had been a shy, good student who had almost no social life because of an accident that had landed her in a back brace. No one wants to hang out with a girl in a back brace. Even in the grown world of college. She was long gone. 

"We want different things," I said.
"So, what happens how?"

I never talked to him again after I left his apartment one night not too far down the road from that conversation. Except once, in a text message a week later to say it was over (I was barely 20...). He continued to call and text me for the next six months to alternate between telling me he hated me and that he wanted me back.

Something about the fact that he had decided my life for me disgusted me. I wanted to make decisions for myself and be ambitious and go for things in life.

So, then I got my college degree. I moved to Europe. For myself and for my own dreams.

I waited out my storm and my life has been a fantastic range of experiences ever since. I think part of that is because I developed a much more positive outlook and decided to see things as experiences. Not a lot of things at my age are important enough to be devastating. 

And somehow after all of that, I ended up back in Roseville, not following my dreams. I went back and read my blog. There is only one thing to do now and that is go pursue something I love.

Let's just blame my newly found positive demeanor on this quote:

"We must leave this dreadful place to-morrow and go searching for sunshine." - Beatrice from Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise

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