I've always had a relatively systematic approach to life, always ready to check steps off my list and move on to the next thing. So this summer as it occurred to me that I would be heading into my sixth year of undergraduate study, I couldn't help but feel down on myself. As I got ready to graduate high school and head to Fresno State I was so certain that I was going to graduate within four years with my finance degree and become a wildly successful business woman. It would be shamefully easy for me to blame dating my husband right out of high school for halting my plans - and while no one says it, I'm positive there have been people who have wondered if I dropped out of Fresno state just before the end of my first year because of that relationship. For what it's worth, I dropped out of Fresno State because: 1.) I didn't really want to go there to begin with, 2.) it turns out finances actually make me feel dead inside, and 3.) I missed home. I know it's not the popular thing to say, but I desperately missed Modesto, my family, and, sure, my boyfriend too.
I have never once regretted packing everything up in the trunk of my little Elantra and leaving Fresno, and my failed attempt at university life, behind. Everything that's followed that decision - my engagement, marriage, current jobs I love, and even my cats - may not have happened the way they were supposed to or even at all had I not been honest with what I was feeling. That being said, as I logged into my online class today to complete the obligatory first week "Introduce Yourself" discussion board, I couldn't help but feel embarrassed as I typed my response to the question of how many years have I been at this junior college. To go from having every aspect of my life so carefully calculated to sort of just floundering about from here to there is still new and difficult for me. Don't get me wrong, I recognize that I am so very fortunate to be receiving any type of education and that there are so many people who never had and never will have that opportunity. However, I think that for so long I was trying desperately to achieve what I thought would make other people nod in approval, and I lost sight of what I actually wanted to do. If you were to pull up my transcript, my record of declared majors would reflect the following: business admin (finance emphasis), liberal studies, communication studies (I actually got an AA in this one!), kinesiology, elementary education, English. The last time I actually had any identifiable "career goals" was when I was studying communications, but because I refuse to transfer to a university until I can pay for it without taking out loans, I sort of backtracked and doubted everything. And now here I am, twenty-three years old entering college year six and I have no idea what I'm doing. This whole summer was dedicated to pouting around, denying myself the things I wanted to do, and telling myself I need to get my act together and just pick a freaking career path already because...well... that's just what adults do.
But something tragic happened this month. One of the owners at the distillery I work at passed away suddenly, still very young, and even though I didn't know him all that well, it shook me to the core. This amazing distillery I have the unique opportunity and pleasure of working at only came to be because he took a blind leap of faith. In the midst of my cringe-worthy pity party, now served with a side of grief, I heard a voice in my head challenge me with: "You are alive right now, so what are you going to do about it". I could keep playing by this unwritten rule book I've been clinging to in which I pick a major and start an acceptable, safe career...or I can start taking some leaps of faith. I can do what I truly want to do regardless of what education I've attained so far or how conventional it is because, quite frankly, life is short and I owe myself that much. So I'm going to keep going to school - maybe for a couple more years or maybe for another six - because I just really love learning. I'm also going to start chasing goals I had previously dismissed as nothing more than dreams because I really want to and I really can.
I'm so thankful I flunked out of Fresno Sate as hard as I did, because it just proved that if you wait for things to fall into your lap, more often than not they just wont. From that setback I got to work in so many cool jobs (mascot, production intern, junior high mentor) that all lead me to the two jobs I currently have that I have so much love for. I got to come home and co-found an organization that supports women from all walks of life with some of the most amazing people I know. There's a lot I don't know about life, but I do know that it's time to start believing in myself and taking some chances. Maybe I don't know what career I would choose for myself, but I do know that more than anything I love to create. So from that, I have a couple exciting projects I'm working on that are coming soon. Maybe they'll flop, but as long as I can say I tried and I got to do what I love, that's good enough for me.
It's 8:34pm on my first day back at school. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I'm nervous. I'm blessed. I'm hopeful. I'm taking chances. I'm showing up to life, and I'm never looking back.