Carving a New Path

The following is more of a journal entry than a health-related blog post.  Conveniently, this is my site, and I can deviate from intended content without consequence.  Perhaps you’ll find my post-graduate journey resonates with your own experiences; I’m definitely not the first of my friends to feel empty-handed even with a diploma.  My intention is to share that even when the surface seems radiant, we all carry doubts.

Without further ado, my post-graduate journey:

Last December, I graduated for the first time.  The celebration of my 4 and a half years felt somewhat hollow.  Though proud of what I’d accomplished, my education journey was far from over, with MBA classes starting only a few weeks later.

Months before graduation, I’d made the decision to abandon my previous plans of attending OT school and started looking for a job.  With no opportunities jumping out at me, I enrolled in the MBA program.  I’d always known I wanted an MBA, but rushing into it was more out of desperation than desire.  I needed to feel like I was moving forward, even though I didn’t know what direction I was meant to head.

Occupational therapy was a calling I thought I had until an internship showed me how wrong I was.  I come from a family with established careers.  Doctors, therapists, lawyers, bankers… people who know what type of role they’re meant to be in, committed to obtaining proper credentials, and stayed the course.

I thought I wanted something similar.  The job security of a medical degree was enticing on paper, but in reality, it wasn’t for me.  Therapy follows a script, tailored to individuals and their needs, but nonetheless a script.  I felt my creativity was limited in this role, but I told myself it would be “okay” if I could obtain a pediatric role in OT.  As I did my research, I realized how unlikely it would be for me to start in pediatrics, and I pictured long days with post-op patients stretching out forever in front of me.  The security sounded great on paper, but the reality of being in one role for the rest of my life was terrifying.

At this point, some of you are thinking, “Well, you could move into a supervisory role.”  You’re right, and if I’d stayed that course, I would have done so with haste.  Luckily, I have an amazing support system who made sure I skipped the step where I was miserable.

My boyfriend was the first to speak up.  He made me realize that while I’d been creating a path in my head, that was the only place it existed.  In reality, my horizons were wide open.

When I first struck out in a new direction, it felt like hacking through undergrowth with a machete.  Gone was the comfortably worn path I’d prepared for myself.  There was a certain thrill associated with the terror.  The freedom to choose any direction was exhilarating, but the lack of certainty was nauseating.  As I told the people close to me about my complete lack of direction, I was shocked by the outpouring of support and love that met me.  It was this that kept me from turning back to my beaten trail and catapulted me ahead.

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Their excitement for my journey was contagious.  So I held my hands up and asked, “God what’s the plan?”  I quit deciding for myself, and I sought His leadership instead.  What a difference that made.

I have one more semester left in the MBA program, but my graduation in May of 2018 will be a much different affair than December of 2016.  I don’t have it all planned out – in fact I don’t intend to ever live that way again, but I do have a direction.  I’ve accepted a position with Cisco Systems in their Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP).  It’s a highly competitive program that will immerse me in all things Cisco, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have received this offer.

Sometimes, it’s letting go that lets us get everything together.  Staying the course would have been a safer decision.  For the rest of my life, I’d have woken up every day knowing the career that awaited me.  This is wide open.  There are ladders to climb, new departments to explore, and further on down the road, who know, there might even be new companies.  My psych degree tells me that human beings hate uncertainty, but I seem to be thriving on it.  I think that’s largely due to the huge safety net created by the loving people in my life.

So thank you daddy, because knowing you’d kick ass if I needed backup has made me bold.  Thank you mama, because having you as my #1 fan has made me confident.  Thank you Henry, because you’re the best built in best friend, and I always glow with pride when asked about my little brother.  Thank you Lawrence, because without you, I wouldn’t have seen my own potential.  Thank you to my girls (you know who you are), because I know on the hard days one of you will always be waiting with a bottle of wine.

I’m carving a new path.  It’s scary at times, but I’m living for the thrill of seeing where I end up.  I have two takeaway from this experience:

(One)     Never assume someone else’s path has been easy.  Nothing in my life has come as easily to me as I’ve made it look.  I blame my tendency to make difficult things look simple on my years of dancing – placing your body in varying states of pain all while making it look like art.  Be aware that you’re never alone in your struggles, even if the social media twist on reality makes it feel that way.  We all struggle.

(Two)     Embrace the unknown as a chance to find greater happiness.  Everything in our nature tells us it’s scary, but that fear makes the end result worth so much more.  Depend on your social support system and be dependable in return.  Facing the unknown is better than remaining locked in a miserable known life.

If you stuck with me to the end, I thank you, and I hope you could both relate to and learn from this post.  I’m truly so excited for my new position with Cisco, and I hope the new year brings excitement and joy for you, too!  Cheers to 2018!

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Why Hating Valentines Day Matters

There was a time in my life when I said I hated February 14th, but I absolutely loved to hate it.  Valentine’s Day was a celebration with my gal pals – we ate chocolate, threw gummy bears at couples in movie theaters, and in later years, popped bottles.  As much as we whined and complained about being single and forever alone, we were never actually alone.

Fast forward a few years… it turns out I wouldn’t be single forever.  You won’t be either if you don’t want to be.  I love him every day, but he gets extra attention today both for the Hallmark holiday and his birthday.

So what’s the point of this post?  I guess I just want to give a little bit of completely unsolicited advice to all my single friends.  And maybe even to the younger girls whose relationships with boys are so much less important than their friends (even if they don’t see that right now).

Hating Valentines Day is one of the best girlfriend activities in the world, and if you aren’t embracing it, you are seriously missing out.  By embracing it, I mean pouring your heart and soul out to your friends.  Laugh and cry and verbally abuse people who have done you wrong.  If you’re doing it with your best friends, it’s going to turn into a beautiful memory, and all the mushy outcries are going to make you closer.

Hate on couples and romance, but immerse yourself in the love of your friends.  Open your heart up and be vulnerable with the people who will stand by you at the altar one day, tears in their eyes because they know how much you prayed for the person standing across from you.  Don’t harden your heart on a holiday about love.  Just because you’re single now doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t love, it just means you have extra feels for your friends right now.

As thankful as I am that I have a man to do life with, when I hear my roommates talking about getting wine, cookie dough, and a chick-flick for tonight, my heart aches a little.  Because as happy as I am to be in love, some of my best memories with those girls include those very things and hating on everyone who had done wrong by us.  So my advice is simple: embrace the stage you’re at in life; you’re going to miss it tomorrow.  If that means wine night and Magic Mike, engage in every minute of it.  You might have all the romance your heart craves next year, but until then, be with people that matter today and love them with all you’ve got.

And to my beautiful roommates, thanks for having a second go round on Thursday so I can participate.  Knowing a night with my best friends is only a couple of days away heals the FOMO I have about going on a romantic date tonight.  Thanks for making it possible for me to have both.  I can’t wait for Galentines!