I’m not even quite sure where to start with this one. I have so much to pour out onto these pages. Writing has always helped me make sense of what I was going through in my life, and I started my blog hoping that my writing would speak to other people who have shared or similar experiences. But if anything, I just hope this piece is a marker of time, something I can look back to when I’m less confused and happier with the place I’m in.
I’ve gone through so many emotions and questions these past few months, and now that I’m finally getting to a place where I’m at peace with my decisions, I knew it was time to write it all out. I’ve been able to grow and learn so much more about myself during my freshman year in college. I’ve learned more about what I believe I’m called to do with my life, what types of people I feel best around and what environments I thrive in. And unfortunately, the college I attended my freshman year didn’t provide those key aspects for me.
At first, it felt so odd; how could I begin to dislike a place that I worked so hard to get into? How could I begin to dislike a place I was really happy in just half a year ago? But then I realized a few things. Everything in my life is part of my growing process. This current destination doesn’t have to be the final destination if it isn’t fulfilling me. It’s simply ok that this current destination is just a stop on my life’s journey. I think that’s something that I wish more young people could understand.
During senior year of high school, there’s this immediate pressure to find a college and stay there until you graduate. I fell under that pressure. It’s hard to admit to myself and to others that I’m leaving my college after only a year because of the way that others might perceive me for my decision. Some people may think I didn’t stick it out long enough, or I didn’t try hard enough, but I know that at the end of the day, how I feel and what I know is going to fulfill my purpose is all that matters.
Another important thing that I’ve had to remind myself is that coming to my current college was not a mistake. I was supposed to be here, even if it was only for a year. Because the lessons I’ve learned about myself and the world and the few amazing friends I’ve met are all a part of my story and my life moving forward. Would it have been nice to save myself the $70,000? Yes!! But if spending $70,000 was going to help me understand my life’s purpose better, then ultimately, it was worth every penny.
Now that I’ve covered some of the crucial takeaways from this story, I’ll talk about the past few months of my life and how I got to the place where I am now. COVID made college life for the better part of my second semester unbearable. There were many pieces and factors that made the COVID situation different at my college than other schools. I won’t go into every single detail, but a COVID breakout on campus at the beginning of the semester ultimately sent me into a downward spiral.
The feeling of being trapped and prohibited from going anywhere, the fear that my every move was going to get me in trouble with the college somehow, and the constant fear of being thrown into quarantine, isolated for 14 days, produced intense feelings of anxiety that I had never felt in my entire life. I have never been an anxious person, and it takes A LOT to stress me out, so I knew that I was living in an unhealthy environment when those feelings were with me from the second I woke up every morning.
On top of all of this messiness, my social life was heavily lacking at college. It has always been super easy for me to make friends wherever I go. I find that I can connect with lots of people, but oddly that was something I found myself struggling with from the start at my college. Ultimately, it was a combination of COVID, the east coast culture that I did not grow up in, and not feeling like I fit in with the liberal arts student crowd. My mistake was thinking that going to a small college meant everyone would function as one community; instead, I found that everyone liked to function as an individual.
In less than 365 days, I’ve managed to become a completely different version of myself. I’ve shed a whole layer of skin like a snake, and my mind seems to have rewired itself. Everything that I see for myself now, I would have never in a million years been ok with last year. In some ways, I think I’m a person who needs constant change, but in other ways, I think I may be a person who grows excessively in short amounts of time.
The change I’ve had in my life, and the change that is to come, will come with new experiences, and in some ways, I feel lucky that I will have crammed so much into this one life. This past year I tried on the east coast liberal art student, and it wasn’t for me at all. But hey! Now I can say I’ve been there and done that. In the past two months, I have become more in tune with myself than ever before.
I learned that once you can stare at yourself in the mirror and stop lying to yourself, you can actually become the most authentic, happiest version of yourself; imagine that! Once I stopped lying to myself, I became content with absolutely everything in my life. I’ve spent the past few weeks realizing that I enjoy my hometown, and I don’t have to keep running if I don’t want to. I’ve realized that college was never actually my dream; volunteering and traveling have been my real dream since I was a child, and I am finally in a healthy enough place to pursue it!
Lastly, I realized that a career in nursing/women’s health is my calling. All I had to do was just truly and deeply, stop listening and believing the bullshit I was feeding myself by the spoonfuls. And that ain’t easy, at all. It took me four solid months of feeling empty and lost to understand that I had to stop feeding myself lies. And finally, when I hit my breaking point/breakthrough one Sunday afternoon in college, I called my parents and spilled every lie and every fear, and since that day, I’ve decided to start swimming and stop drowning. It seriously feels like someone has drained my mind of all the yuckiness, and it’s so much clearer now.
I am so excited for my next adventure; I think this is the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time; it’s just been so lovely to breathe. I enjoy all the things I couldn’t handle or stand for so long, and that’s how I’ve truly been able to know that I have mentally transitioned into a new world. I enjoy my home, time with family, Cincinnati, I love spending time with myself, and for once, I’m enjoying living in the present moment, which has always been impossible for me to do.
Before I lay out my future plans for this upcoming semester, let’s rewind to April 2020. We were all amid covid and quarantine at the time. But as I was navigating quarantine, I was also navigating what college I wanted to enroll in. One night I had this bizarre dream about traveling to Africa and loving it. I woke up the next morning and wondered if I was making a big mistake going to college. I wondered if I should make a last-minute decision to take a gap year and travel.
Although deep down inside, that aspiration to travel was my actual dream, I wasn’t mature enough yet to listen to that voice, and as we all already know, I chose college last year. But luckily, almost a year later, in March of 2020, that voice inside me came back, and I decided to listen to it this time! Though it was so terrifying and hard to listen to that voice, I knew that it was time to listen; I knew that it was time to leave college for a bit.
In September, I’ll be leaving for Africa. I have always felt a strong desire to volunteer abroad for many years now, so I have decided to take this upcoming fall semester off from school to pursue my (actual) dreams!! It is absolutely crazy to be typing that out because last fall while at college, I had a freakout moment one night where I thought to myself, “Why am I at this prestigious college learning about all the injustices in the world when I could go out and start trying to actually fix it?!!” Honestly, I think that may be the key to following your dreams and pursuing your purpose; is to stop fearing where those crazy and wild thoughts and dreams will take you.
In Africa, I’ll split my time in Ghana and Tanzania, volunteering with midwives and doctors in the labor and delivery section of government hospitals. For so long, I would have dropped everything to be able to volunteer with a project like this, so I am incredibly excited and thankful that I’ll have the chance to love on all of the beautiful people I’ll be meeting.
I am also so excited to learn all of the beautiful lessons they have to teach me. After I leave Africa, I’ll be taking two weeks to visit some places in Europe with one of my best friends Zoe who I met during my junior year of high school in NYC! This has always been something we have wanted to do together, and I’m so thankful we have the opportunity to do it now!
It will probably be nice to take some time to reflect and debrief on everything I learned in Africa. Hopefully, I will get some good writing done during all my travels. I imagine there will be so much I will want to share with the world! Hopefully, I will be able to keep you all updated by continuing to publish blog posts during the next few months.
I am ultimately hoping that somehow, my current and future blog posts about taking time off from school to do what is going to fulfill me can inspire other young people to do the same and to realize that college isn’t the only option! I desperately wish I would have listened to the people in my life who gave me that message during my senior year of high school. But at the end of the day, I believe the timing is perfect, and everything happens for a reason.
Though the past year of my life was messy in so many ways, I believe it led me and prepared me for this next adventure. I know this next adventure is going to help me grow immensely and probably change my life forever. But this adventure might also be the craziest thing I’ve ever done (in a good way) but still, say a little prayer for me if you think of it 😂
Thanks for taking the time to read yet another blog post! See you all on the flip side! -G ❤