I subscribe to Tiny Buddha and love getting their daily mailings. I’m sure you’ve noticed, because I’ve shared many with you. I also recently finished reading Lori’s first book and will definitely be sharing about it in the days to come.
Recently, one of their articles REALLY hit home for me – when your dream dies and you’re not sure what to do next.
Back in late 2011, when I had to make the decision to stop going to graduate school due to multiple illness issues, I was devastated. My depression and anxiety picked up and I became agoraphobic, if only because I was worried about running into classmates or TAs or professors. My fibromyalgia went into a flare that only ended in the last year, and my Still’s had a blast with my stressed and scared body.
Sometimes I think that if I had really been more invested in the subjects that I would have stuck with it and excelled. Then I remember just how very sick I really was – and these pictures are from the year before I quit even!
It took a long time for me to deal with those feelings. It really wasn’t until recently that I was able to let go of those emotions – and really only now that I’ve been able to get proper medical care and get a lot of things under control.
I think I felt pressured to study the Middle East, Islam, and Arabic. Honestly, a lot of it was wanting to set myself apart from the others I did my undergrad in and choose a religion that wasn’t Christianity. I often think that perhaps I should’ve chosen Buddhism, but I knew that wouldn’t have the potential to be a real income maker like Islam. I was raised with the thought that I would be a diplomat in the UN to make my mother proud. That was pretty heavily pushed on me. With all the conflict over there, the Middle East seemed like a great area to start that career in – especially since I was so used to conflict and fighting every single day of my life.
In the course of my studies, I found out so many interesting and beautiful things about that part of the world. I shared frustrations with my TAs about how the university had us learn words related to terrorism before we learned colors – something that would never happen in languages like Spanish. I tried Arab coffee, sweet treats, held conversations in Arabic, and spend times discussing the similarities between Arabic and other languages.
Honestly, removing myself from that world hurt more than words can say. I’ve always excelled and been a great student, so to have to ‘fail’ something really hurt. I know now that it wasn’t truly failure, but it sure felt like it for a long time. I’ve always persevered, and suddenly I couldn’t anymore.
We’ve now reached the point where I would’ve graduated and probably had to move to a different state for a job. The nice side of that is, as much as Wisconsin sucks sometimes, Madison is beautiful. I do miss the west coast/northwest scene, but this is good for now.
I’ve been able to channel all of the energy I had put into school work into my activism, redefining what I wanted, and that’s helped me tremendously. It feels sometimes like so many of the things I’ve done have been more behind the scenes type of things, which can be frustrating when I want to have bigger roles. It makes it hard when people in those roles make hurtful comments. I have to step back and really analyze not only what is going on but if I’d want to be involved anymore when that’s what happens.
I wish things were different. I wish that I had really thought about what I wanted to do after college, aside from me and my roommate having a backup plan of living in a van or hanging out with basketball players.
I wish that my body hadn’t have crapped out on me. At the same time, I love where I’m at now between our place, my loved ones, my job, the docs I work with, etc. I feel like I’ve really found where I belong, and that wouldn’t have happened without the death of this dream.