I remember a time in college, between sophomore and junior year, when I wanted to take a semester off, and apply to a program in another state. Things were rough at the time. A lot of changes were occurring around me, and I was in a relationship that had been dead for awhile. I was also still holding out hope for a person from my past to realize I was “the one”. It seemed like the perfect time to get away. Start fresh. I told my best friend about it, and I wouldn’t call her response supportive. Instead, she said she felt like I was running away. Out of all the benchmarks we have experienced together, this is certainly small beans. It was probably a conversation over AIM or something too. Not even on the phone. But I remember it well. I took what she said very seriously, and didn’t apply. Instead I attempted to welcome the changes and wade through.
So why do I bring this up when it all worked out? Well, I was talking to a friend this week who was thinking of making a big change in her life. Huge change. Like moving away for a year to figure out what she really wants. This is a woman in a committed relationship, who has been going to graduate school for her career. And she’s been having a change of heart. This happens. People change their minds all the time, but when it’s something that’s required so much hard work, money, and time… it’s a bigger deal. But once you take those details away, it’s a choice like any other. Are you unhappy? Okay, what are you going to do about it then?
She has the support of her boyfriend (who even suggested she compile a list of “dream jobs” – I loved this) and even started contacting friends who made a similar move to see if she could possibly take this plunge. There would be a lot to consider. Taking a break from school, possibly picking up some classes somewhere else, and choosing to leave the comfort of a rent-free life to take on all monetary responsibilities no one ever wants. The other issue being that her boyfriend would not be looking for jobs in the location she was looking to move to, and more than likely when he finished school she would be moving back here or to another place entirely. She was willing to accept all of these realities.
I don’t know how you would feel but I was inspired by her “go-get-‘em” attitude. In fact, I wanted some of it for myself.
So she talked to her parents yesterday. And, of course, they freaked out. How could she leave after all her hard work? Leave the comforts of home, blah blah blah. I get it. They are as scared of change as the next guy. They want their daughter (who already has a good education) to finish graduate school, get a job, get married, have babies, etc. The same thing every parent wants for their child until they stray off that path and all hell breaks loose. HOW DARE YOU DO THINGS OUT OF ORDER. HOW DARE YOU MAKE THE WRONG CHOICE AND WANT TO MAKE ANOTHER TO BE HAPPY. All logical responses from someone who cares, but seriously, it drives me crazy.
This brings me back to my “running away” story. What if I just really wanted to try something new, and not do things like everyone else? I went to college far, far away from everyone. Was that running away too? When I was fighting with my parents a lot, locked into an intense relationship and wanting to experience the college life near the beach? No one thought that then. And if they did, they sure didn’t share that view with me.
Back to my “go-get-‘em” friend. Her dad said something similar. Maybe she was running away. He’s a good dad. Extremely supportive, and I believe him saying this came from an understanding place. (Not saying that wasn’t the case for my BF either.) And my friend made a good point –“So what if I was running way? Maybe some people NEED to do that every now and then. I don’t know why it’s such a bad thing.”
Ding. Ding. Ding.
The people you go to in these (dire) situations are more than likely, the people you trust the most in life. And even though you share minute details of your life with them, your deepest feelings, and even some of your hugest moments, I really believe no one can tell you that a choice is all about escaping reality except you.
There I said it.
It’s such a conundrum sometimes. When people want to take a different path. When people thinking leaving will help them figure things out. Or just trying new things in general. What are you supposed to do? Continue doing things because they are “right” when you know in the end you are going to be so much more miserable than you are right now? I’m just not sure. Maybe some people would rather play it safe. I just can’t do that. I’ve already done so many things in my life that people would not deem okay, or right, or the best. I’m flawed, people. In a big way. In ways that I may not even admit on this blog. Or to my closest friends. I can’t help what I think or how I feel but they are not always on the straight and narrow. I do try to express them as best I can because these flaws contribute to what makes me a human being. And I like to be honest about who I am.
I know the time is coming for me to take another chance. I think this possibility is always right around the corner. I wonder how many people will carefully label it as turning my back on something or making an off-beat decision that I will come to regret in later years. Well, okay. I’m willing to accept that I may regret something but it’s not going to stop me either. I can’t let it. While I am considerate to the opinions of those who are close to me, I can’t conform. I can’t ALWAYS be convinced. Instead I accept their life choices, even if they are drastically different from mine, and hope beyond hope they can give me an objective opinion with the understanding that we are not one in the same. Decisions are never easy. There are a lot of layers to trudge through before you come to an answer, and sometimes even at that point, nothing is clear. You just have to make a move. Even if you are scared, and people have deemed your choices unacceptable. Because just like we don’t have the same taste in music or beer or chose to go to different schools, we cannot always walk on the same path. We can only remain open and honest with each other. And supportive.
All I am saying is that there is a fine line, a delicate delicate line, between “running away” from all that is deemed safe and normal, and walking in an entirely new direction for the sake of your happiness and your future.
I’m suddenly reminded of a Dixie Chicks lyric I adore - “No I, I could never follow”.