It’s always interesting to look back. I run into people from high school and realize life is passing me by. People I went to school with are married, have children, are traveling the world, are done their degrees, they’re teachers, they’re executives, they’re broadway stars. They are living their dreams. They are making a life for themselves. I am proud of them. I have respect for them. And, I must say, in the least evil way possible, I am jealous of them. They are really living. I thought I’d be off doing something amazing and I know how fully capable I am. But something has held me back. I’m not playing the victim here. There’s nothing wrong with my life, it just doesn’t make me happy. I can also recognize that I am fully responsible for that, although I’m not going to beat myself up about it.
But I do wonder… What happened?
Did I lose confidence? Lose direction? Am I afraid? Is it all of those things? Is it none of those things? And I don’t know.
What I do know:
I have no motivation or joy for my degree program, except that I know it will look good on a resume and, hopefully, better my career in the long run. I have an uncontrollable hunger for travel, despite my lack of legitimate funds (I could go on my student loans easily though). And I wonder… as irresponsible, reckless and unsophisticated as it would be… should I do it?
Should I buy a nice camera? Finish my semester (with still two years left of my degree program)? Save anything I can for the next 2.5 months? Sublet my place (or not, since my roommate would probably murder me – exaggeration, but you know what I mean)? And just… go? Take pictures, write about my experiences, get the tattoo I’ve wanted for years. It doesn’t seem smart, responsible, logical or wise. But the more I think about it, the more I feel… That’s what I want.
What’s stopping me? Money? School? My apartment?
The thing is, I know I can overcome the money issue by using my loan. Sure, it’s irresponsible… but isn’t travel a form of education in itself? Meeting new people. Learning about the world. Learning about different cultures. Seeing things. Filling my heart. Getting to know myself better. In other words, I can overcome the money obstacle if I really want to. If it’s worth it. In terms of school, I can put it on hold until I get back, so that can be overcome too. In terms of my apartment, I can sublet or work something out with my roommate or eat the cost if it comes to that. So that can be overcome as well.
So if all my apparently huge obstacles aren’t holding me back, what is?
And I think I might know… guilt and fear.
What if I rack up a ton of debt? How will I pay it back? When will I pay it back? What will my family think? What if I don’t learn anything when I’m away? What if I have nothing to show for my travels? What if I’m just trying to escape? What if I learn something about myself that I don’t want to know? What if I want to drop out of school when I get back? Or change my program? What will people think of me if I’m still doing my undergrad when I’m almost 30?
But if I look at all of that guilt and fear, I see only one thing: a girl who is afraid to be who she is. So what if I’m not taking the recommended path? So what if I’m not making the smartest decision? So what if my family gets angry with me? I know my family well enough to know that they will forgive me and love me no matter what.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Worst case scenario: I come back to a family who is annoyed with me, afraid for my future and afraid of my debt. I come back with a lot of money to repay to my student loan, not wanting to do school, with no more direction than I have now… with a wealth of experiences under my belt. And I realize… That really doesn’t sound so bad. I’ve been in that place before without the wealth of experiences and with numerous additional problems… I recovered from it once. I can do it again.
After considering all this I realize, I need to let go of my guilt and my fear. I need to embrace my life with open arms. There is nothing wrong with following your dreams, however reckless or irresponsible it may be. I have to go because I can no longer ignore the world calling “Kate, come meet me”.
Thanks for listening to my written out word vomit.