I grew up in the privileged suburbs outside of Washington D.C. I have lived in the same house my entire life. My parents moved to the city before developers discovered it and made it the McMansion metropolis it now is, which is how they were able to afford the house we live in and the fantastic school district I attended. I was an only child raised by a wonderful mother and father who gave me everything I needed to be successful and allowed me to pursue whatever life I wanted. I am super lucky.
Just like everyone else in my high school I went off to college right after I graduated and succeeded in the university-level academics. However, I never had a break- I couldn’t pay for a gap year; therefore I couldn’t have one. After my first semester of college, I had a small crisis of sorts: I didn’t know how to balance my social, academic, and personal life and I was incredibly homesick. Somehow I persevered and stuck with the college through the next semester, but I didn’t this time around.
Once I decided to transfer (my first college did not have my major), I was incredibly excited for everything the future had to hold. I was confident about making beautiful friends and immersing myself in the glory of rocks and volcanoes. Once I got on campus, however, things slowly became worse and worse. After many personal and interpersonal hiccups, one being my father having a health scare back home, I couldn’t continue. Three weeks into the second semester my parents drove up, and we packed my bags and headed out.
It was not a rash decision. Taking a break to learn more about me and do things I’m interested in (but don’t quite align with my studies) is something I have wanted to do multiple times. I finally decided to listen to my emotions!
I do often make decisions quickly, however. I want the answer to be known so I may continue forward with whatever is next. However, this was not a quick decision. I thought about it thoroughly. What could the consequences be? Would I not be able to get good recommendations from my professors? Would people think of me differently? What about graduating on time? Not to worry, I have plans, and they are great ones.
I have gotten much sympathy, however. I am taking a break for me, not for clinical health, so not to worry! I am glad that I can do this. If I was still at school right now, there might have been a reason to feel concern. Time off is what I need. I have an agenda of things I have wanted to do for myself, and I fully plan to execute it.
There are many things I have wanted for many months or years that have not happened, whether that be because of insecurities holding me back or just time. Somehow it clicked in me that if I want to do something (like this blog for instance), and people are going to judge me for it, then they can walk away. The most important journey of mine is discovering whom I want to be; if aspects of my being bother people with whom there was once a mutual fondness, then I may find the same closeness with those in my new hobbies and careers.
Although it was an incredibly shocking and challenging decision for me to make, it is important to me that I realize not everybody follows the cookie cutter path of the people with which I went to high school. That doesn’t make my journey better or worse; it makes it unique.
After spending years of effort attempting to control where my life is going and make decisions based on only wanting to know the outcome, it is overwhelming not knowing where I will be in my life a year from now. Perhaps that is what I need to keep me sane at the moment.
Have you ever taken a leap of faith into unknown territory or gone against the grain of society? How did you cope? Let me know in the comments below.