Friday, February 19, 2016

nothing wrong with that

Some people will not understand your journey. And no amount of words strung together in a perfectly explainable fashion will lead them to comprehend who you are and how life has brought you to this point. That’s okay. But since I am a person who seeks approval from others, I never find it easy to face this fact. However, I have learned that striving for constant approval and satisfaction from those around us is like trying to run on a treadmill in snow boots. It might be all right for a while, but it quickly becomes frustrating, uncomfortable, and just plain difficult.

My life has never fit into any particular mold. Experiences and situations have taken me in different and unexpected directions. I didn’t grow up in one town and date a guy on the football team and graduate high school to go directly to college and major in psychology and drive a cute little 4 door sedan and work as a barista on the weekends and marry my college boyfriend and buy a house down the street from my parents and have 2.1 children and--you get the picture.

I was thinking about this the other day. I have a very strong memory from the summer after I graduated high school. All of my friends were heading off to college, to study medicine, or business, or education. I was 17 and literally had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that the happiest I’d ever been was when I was in Africa the year before. I didn't want to spend $70k to study something I wasn't even sure I was interested in, I wanted to go back to Africa. So I did.

It was nearing the end of the summer and my friends and I were all staying over at someone’s house. My friends’ mom had come in and started asking about my future plans. I told her I wasn’t going to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I saw a confused look cross her face, and she said, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

For some reason, her comment irked me for many months, and possibly years, after that brief interaction. The fact that she said “there’s nothing wrong with that” lead me to believe just the opposite. That yes, there was something very wrong with that. I know she didn’t mean any harm, and it only affected me so deeply because of my own self doubts. What was the matter with me that I couldn’t make a decision about my future when everyone else seemed to have it all mapped out?

I hate that our American society has put such pressure on the younger generation to make such huge—and expensive!—decisions that will effect their entire futures. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge believer in education. I love to learn and discover new things, whether that’s from sitting in a classroom or simply talking to someone with more wisdom and experience than me. Education opens new doors and can lead us on great adventures, but so can experience.

 If I had listened to others opinions about some of my life choices I would have missed out on the greatest things. It scares me to think of where I might be if I had left for college in the fall of 2008. It's a terrifying thought, really. But that's not to say that is or was the wrong decision for everyone, it was just the wrong one for me. Some people's roads will take them to college to major in psychology and drive the 4 door sedan and work as a barista on the weekends and "there's nothing wrong with that." 

But really, there isn't! We need to stop the relentless comparing and judging and labelling of our lives over the next persons. Everyone’s journey is different. That’s called being a human. Deep down, we all know the road we are meant to take. Don’t veer off into another lane based on fear of others’ opinions. While it can be scary to go against the grain I’d imagine it’s much scarier to do what everyone else is doing with absolutely no reason why. And when I know in my heart of hearts that I’m on the right road, the desire to prove it seems to vanish. 

Now, nearly 8 years later, I am planning to go back to college (yay!). So I have been giving education a lot of thought. For my application essay I was asked to answer the following writing prompt: If you have any personal or additional information that you would like the admissions committee to consider in its holistic review of your application, please share that information below.(Maximum 4,000 characters) Talk about open ended, right?


After mulling it over for a while I realized that in these 4,000 characters I had to effectively communicate why 25-year-old Lindsey is finally doing what everyone thought 17-year-old Lindsey should’ve done back in 2008.  And the bigger thing: why I’m glad to be doing it now rather than back then. I wrote that essay, and I answered those questions. And I found my only difficulty in doing so was trying to keep it under the 4,000-character limit.


It seems that the admissions committee agreed with my sentiments, because I got in!