Most people don’t realize how lucky they are until too late and they realize they’ve taken something for granted. I’ve been one of those people and—to an extent—I probably still am. When I left New Jersey nearly three years ago to embark on a journey that would change my view of my state, I was enthralled with the idea of leaving. I was working at a dead end job, hanging out with the equivalent in people, and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I wasn’t (and am not) content with living a mediocre life. I don’t know if I ever really want to settle down. I feel like I was meant to live several different lives to encapsulate all that I want in the one life I’ve been given. In another life, I should be married with a child by now. I should be living in a small house in the country, sipping tea and working as a veterinarian and a farmer. In that same breath though, I should be in New York City, living in a closet, writing a novel, and waiting tables.
You see, I’m not really acclimated to society by choice.
Always feeling like the odd (wo)man out, I never really followed my dreams (and there were plenty to choose from). I was raised to put your dreams on hold and follow something lucrative. I can’t blame my parents for that, though. If I was born in a communist state, a political refugee with nothing but the shirt on my back, I would want something more for my children. I would want to give them (what I thought) was the best: a college education.
Fortunately for me, I have that now; I’ve followed the tried and true path. At the rate I’m going, I could (within the next several years) work for a great company (or create my own) and earn enough to support a family.
That’s not what I want, though.
For once, I want to follow a dream that will shake me, change me, and (with any hope) define me, or (as the case will be) allow me to define it. When someone asks me what to do, I always tell them to do whatever it is (unless it’s detrimental to their well-being/health or someone else’s). Your biggest regrets in life are of the things you didn’t do. I know this, but by no great regret of my own. I’ve almost always done everything. I’ve professed undying (subsequently unrequited) love, I’ve sang to strangers in cafes, and I’ve directed a movie (not yet complete). These are things I would go to my grave wondering “what if” about.
There’s one more “what if,” though. I put it on the shelf. I wanted to make sure I had a solid, lucrative degree; I wanted something to fall back on. I have, roughly, three months left as an undergrad (I always thought I’d be an undergrad forever). I have no limitations. What better time to follow one last dream than right now?
I always try to find myself in different fields. One day I want to open a bakery and the next I’m interested in a book store. There are things I’ll never do: marine biologist, veterinarian, social worker, and every other idea I’ve had during one daydream or other. There is an option though—for people like me, I think. Since my life isn’t large enough to be all of the people I’d like to be, I could write and act. I could be the wife of a farmer and I could be a personal trainer. I could be a doctor or I could be a killer.
Is it going to be difficult to pursue this avenue? Of course, it will. I’m determined to give it a shot, though. What have I got to lose? My plan is to move out to California during the summer (I’m thinking mid-July) and spend a year auditioning and working to keep a roof over my head. I might come back with shattered dreams, but I might find whatever it is I’m looking for. Clearly, after twenty-four years, I’m no closer to being decisive about my life than at sixteen sitting with a guidance counselor in high school.
The thing that surprises me is the support. My family has been more supportive than I thought possible. I expected fighting tooth and nail for some respect in my ideas, but instead, I was overwhelmed with the acceptance and guidance to do what I want. My dad (who I thought would be entirely against it) confided that he always wanted to do something different, but hasn’t yet; he still wants to, though he’s not sure what. My mom said to give it a shot and maybe someday she’ll move out there.
There is one thing I know for sure: this is something I must do. I have no grand expectations. With any luck, I’ll focus on creating more in one year than I’ve ever done. I’ll apply to jobs I can’t possibly get (photography, writing, editing) and audition during the time off. I’m excited to embark on this journey, but I’m also trying to enjoy the last few months of Jersey, as well.