I drove past my old high school today.
I drive past it semi-regularly, since my best friend lives next door, but today was the first time in a while. It floored me to think that I spent four important years of my life there and that another five years have passed since then. How different of a person I am since I graduated high school, but here I am less than two weeks away from graduating college.
I never imagined I would make it this far. If you had told 17-year-old me that I would be in the position I am in now I would not have believed you. Five years ago I was a child who thought they knew everything the world had to offer and I didn't want any of it. I went to college because that's what I was told I was supposed to do by my family and my teachers. I hadn't the slightest clue of what I wanted to do with my life, because I wasn't sure I really even wanted to be alive. I wasn't suicidal, but I was just going through the motions every day; completing each day the way I was expected to, but not really taking an active part in my life. I didn't want to wake up in the morning, but I didn't necessarily not want to either and that seemed like enough for me.
Then I went away to college to try and live the life all of the other high school graduates I knew were living, not because I wanted to, but because that's what was expected of me. I hated it, but I realized I didn't hate the actual school part. For once in my life, I actually enjoyed learning because I was learning about things that seemed to matter (among other classes that felt like high school so I skipped almost every week).
It wasn't the classes that I hated, it was being away from my family. This was confusing because I had wanted to put a lot of distance between my family and me, but suddenly I found myself going home every weekend possible. I ended up moving back home after the first semester and started to attend community college.
All of the sudden I was getting along with my family, which I never thought would happen and I was enjoying the things I was learning and I had a job. I was still doing things because they were expected of me, but it somehow felt like more of a choice.
Eventually, I realized I wanted to be a social worker. I don't know what it was or in which moment this came to me, but suddenly one day it did. Things started to click. I began really caring about my classes. I began looking into my field. I became excited about something in my life. But there were still parts of my life that I lived to the expectations of everyone else.
I felt lonely and I tried to connect with my friends, some of whom I'd been friends with for a long time, but people grow apart and as difficult as it can be we aren't friends with same people as we grow. Losing some of these people was difficult, but it was also really important for me. I was and still can be sometimes a very co-depended person emotionally. I relied on these friends for support more than what was healthy and after breaking off from them I began to grow even more. I learned a lot about myself and each time something like this happens I learn even more.
I started really caring about who I let in my life and who I chose to disassociate from. I stopped holding friendships with people who stunted my emotional growth and I stopped dating men out of loneliness rather than compatibility (and eventually stopped dating altogether to get a better sense of myself).
Now all of the sudden it is 2018, five years from when I graduated high school. I am no longer an inactive passenger in my life. I'm steering myself in the direction I want to be in. I am graduating college. I have a professional job lined up based on my degree to begin this month. I have adult friendships with people who challenge me and help me grow as a person. I have an amazing boyfriend who genuinely cares about me and has beliefs and values similar to mine. My relationship with my family has never been healthier. I have never been so happy with my life and I never thought that I would be this happy with my life.
So, now that you know my brief biography for the last five years, I want to leave you with a thought: You will not always feel like you are doing anything with your life. You won't feel like the things you are doing matter. It is so important that you continue doing them or continue looking for things that do matter to you. You will go through so many phases and sometimes it will seem pointless, but it won't forever. You will find your way. I know I'm not the first person to say that, but I really believe that if I can find meaning in my life after feeling the way I did five years ago, anyone can.
Hang in there, keep working hard, and eventually, things will fall into place.