I was given a lot of freedom when I graduated university. After eighteen years of following the straight and narrow, I was quite suddenly blessed with the opportunity to change directions.
Physically I could have gone anywhere. I could have packed up my belongings, boarded a plane, train, or bus and wandered off somewhere new. Instead I chose to stay put, remaining in the same city where I went to university. I even stayed on at the same company too, taking a promotion instead of job hunting, and moved in with a sorority sister I’d known for years instead of searching for new roommate.
Despite all my freedom, I chose the comfort of the familiar.
I regret sometimes that I didn’t take more risks after I graduated. I know I made smart decisions about money and resumes and student loans, but by doing so I failed to really challenge myself. I put aside things I wanted for things I knew that I needed and I rationalized that as being enough to make me happy. I thought that if I could just get things settled I’d feel better, that life would fall into place around the necessities.
But like most people, I feel happiest when I’m actually being my true self. And the sad truth is that I only see glimpses of her these days. I spend all this time writing about self-discovery and about confusion and dissatisfaction, because I never let myself hold on to those moments of clarity. So I lose myself time and again, letting those moments disappear for days, weeks, or months at a time.
I’m not being myself when I go to work everyday, chained to an uncomfortable desk chair in a pencil skirt and cardigan. I’m not myself in ballet flats and fluorescent light. The real me prefers stretching out on the floor in a pair of worn in Forever 21 skinny jeans and a Marvel tank top. I love drinking milkshakes on a swingset in the park, watching fireworks, and closet cosplaying to movie premiers. I’m myself when I’m trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, when I’m furiously typing a witty piece of dialog into my phone, or when I accidently slip into my late night talk show host commentary at the end of the night’s TV line up. In those moments, I am my truest self, but I hardly ever get to step into those shoes anymore.
One of my study abroad program’s interns was recently featured in an article on WhereverMag in which she talks about her travels and vegan lifestyle. She describes how she took a risk by dropping out of a PhD program, selling all her possessions, and traveling the world to write and explore the things she was passionate about. I may not personally agree with the vegan raw diet, but I greatly admire her determination to follow a lead and satisfy her life’s curiosity. She’s putting her passion first and I must admit that at this moment I envy her tenacity.
But I also acknowledge how lucky she is to be able to do that. Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to have so immediately all the things that we want and not all of us are brave enough to take them even when we are. Some of us don’t even fully understand yet the shape that we want our lives to take. Still, I hope one day to be as happy as she is, to be as confident in my choices and the decisions that I’m making about my life. That alone is no easy feat.
I want to see more of my true self in my work days, to infuse more of my personality in the gray hours I spend at work. I want my life to stop feeling like a silent film and to take on the technicolor of happiness instead. I shouldn’t just accept life for what it is when I know from experience how much brighter it can be.
The only question is: will I be brave enough to take the risk?