Stepping away from my life in Minneapolis was the first step in my seeing how much more the world has to offer than the one I previously engulfed myself in. A never-ending sphere of business textbooks, impossible finals, caffeine overdoses, and tight slacks. I was one of the many competitive students all after the same thing - money and success.
Since I could talk about what I wanted, it has pretty much been the same thing. As a child of two business oriented people, I basically let the path choose me. I was more cautious about things making sense than making me happy and I absolutely thrived on chaos. From a young age, stress worked for me. I had been able to turn it into something positive - pouring myself into school, into event planning, into extracurriculars and leadership opportunities. Bad at saying no and terrified of disappointing people who came to me, spread thin was an understatement. Instead of giving much thought to my dreams and core values, I accepted the things that came and committed to those I did well. High on success and oblivious to satisfaction.
In hindsight so much of my story, up to this point, makes a lot of sense. All of high school I was a dedicated student, friend, and daughter. I was pretty set on being "popular" (whatever that means) and a simultaneous nerd due to academic history, I played sports and threw parties, I was known as an extrovert but innately intro. I was in high school to go to college and college to get a high paying job. I was going fast, independent and resentful for the reasons why. Basically, I was trying to do everything, be everyone all because I had no idea who I was and too scared to figure it out.
College only worsened the internal pressure. I dove headfirst into classes, applied for a job, got recruited for a prestigious business organization, and slowly but surely hit my breaking point. I had this irrational sensitivity to messing up and I think the thought of slowing down made me feel lazy, unsuccessful, as if I was "drifting." It felt like everyone around me knew what they wanted and even if it wasn't true, I didn't have the power to convince myself otherwise back then. I turned to my body for the control I couldn't find in other parts of life.
Two years later my life had completely changed. The things I learned, I had to unlearn and the correlations I had made about success were involuntarily broken. I had almost let it kill me.
After coming full circle I was able to see things a lot more clear - that no amount of money will replace self-acceptance, trying to be someone else will never help you find yourself, coping mechanisms don't erase your past, replacing lack of control with obsessive control only ends badly, and that life is too short to be unhappy. It's worth giving something up if it steals from you at the same time. It was hard for me to accept that the person I imagined myself becoming may not have been what I ever wanted at all. I still get nostalgic for the way I used to plan. The uncertainties existing now feel a lot scarier than always knowing my next step.
I used to see New York City and black car service, 9 almonds in the morning with black coffee as I showered in my white tiled bathroom with a guy I hopefully loved. I saw a dog, no kids because we had both been too busy. I saw a social circle filled with people that did the same thing. I thought it was money and a corporate career that would make me feel worth it - worth the dedication and the long nights, all the no's and the compromises. I used to think that was "having it all." I don't see those things anymore.
When I left the city I grew up in, left the business school I was so proud to be a part of, left the environment that bread this sort of person, I saw that what I truly wanted had the more to do with people and experiences than a certificate I hung on the wall or the bank statement of my thirty-year-old self. Don't get me wrong, I loved home and all it had to offer, but I looked at my choices differently and old priorities had taken a back seat. I do still wonder if it will stay that way when I return.
I really wanted to know who I was if I didn't push the classes and the highest paying job, if I did the things that filled my heart instead of money-oriented parameters of success. Curiosity pushed me to see who that person would turn out to be if I stopped forcing for her to go somewhere without a good reason why.