I've thought about my life in these few days I've been home--a trip meant only to be a precious four days, but through mishaps of my own and the climate's, expensively extending to an exceedingly lovely and relaxing full week--and I realized that I've never been told the words "You can't do it."
I'm sure I've been told that for things that I shouldn't do, like drinking and driving or going out super late at night with a bunch of friends on a school night back when I was in high school. But for the more important things in life, I'm don't think I've ever been told that I couldn't do something.
This occurred to me as I told my mom my plans about to travel in Australia next year. I told her I didn't want to go to graduate school right away, that I wanted to take (at least) a year off, that I was too burnt out to even want to finish this quarter, let alone another two years of serious professional schooling. The idea of having to attend classes makes me want to cry or throw up or both. Probably both. I really want to go to grad school, really I do. This isn't some thing I'm like "Yeah... sure, I'll do it," and never really get around to it, like coffee dates with people I just don't really care about anymore. It's a goal of mine to one day be Chelsey, M.A., at least before I die, but right now, the idea of it just isn't feasible.
I've always tried to do the "right" thing. You and I both know I've had my slip-ups and I'm not perfect, but I got pretty much straight A's the entirety of my existence in the grades K-12; I went right away to a good school on full scholarship with a specific career plan in mind. I (barely) drank before I was 21. I'm not a druggie, I haven't gotten knocked up, and I didn't join a cult or kill someone. In essence, I've done what's expected of me, what's proper, what's correct my whole life. At times I think what has that gotten me? but I know that I'd be a hell of a lot worse off if I hadn't. Because I have done what's right, I now have the freedom to what's (in a sense) "wrong." So moving to Australia for a year isn't my family's ideal of what should be coming next in my life, as my brother so lovingly reminds me that my degree is a waste and I'm a hobo, but it feels right to me.
And though I know that deep down they're scared and terrified that I'm completely mucking up my life, they never told me I couldn't do it. They gave me their apprehensions and misgivings and opinions, but never once told me no or that it was an impossibility or that I was incapable of making this happen. This made me realize that my whole life it's been like that.
This thought makes me both elated and saddened at the same time. I'm elated because it shows the character of the people who I have made important in my life. I wonder if anyone else has had the unconditional support that I have had. From acquaintances to teachers to friends to my family, I've always received a ton of encouragement on anything I've wanted to do--from choosing extracurricular activities to whatever path I choose for my future. It's such a breathtakingly overwhelmingly beautiful realization that the idea has captured my attention all break. I have people who support me no matter what.
However, it makes me sad because it makes me think what the fuck have I done with that support? There are people out there who, by my age, have done so many amazing things, changing lives and creating a better world, and what have I done? What do I have to show for 21 years on this earth? As I write this, my rational part of my brain floods my senses with responses--the relationships you've cultivated, the experiences you have had, the goals you have accomplished. I do attend a major university on full scholarship in an economy where that is so rare I should kiss every single person in the financial aid department at least once a day, for crying out loud. But at the same time, I think... I haven't really done anything special.
This is going to sound cocky, but I can only be honest. Many teachers in my past have told me I'm going to do great things with my life. I used to think Hells yes I am. I'm going to blow this world apart with how much awesomeness courses through my veins, never out loud of course. But as time goes on, I try to convince myself that it's not true, that I'm content with not being special, that I'm happy with being regular. Why not be regular? Pretty much everyone in my life is regular, for the most part. No one's cured cancer or written a bestselling book or climbed Mt. Everest. We're all a bunch of regular people figuring out this thing called life. But the truth is, I want to be special. I want to be so goddamn special and significant it's hard to stand me.
And I want to begin that journey now. I have no idea what it looks like, but I'm formulating hypotheses, visualizing what that looks like in a daily manner, brainstorming different ways of accomplishing the things that make me happy. It starts with finishing another book. It starts with sitting down to write every day. It starts with applying for that visa. It starts with this blog.
And I know I can do it. You've all told me I could. There will one day be people who tell me I can't and it will crush me to no end. I'll have to pick myself back up, but I know I won't be alone. God has continued to show me who the people are in my life that I can trust to see me on the ground and help me up.
If you've been told you can't, it's a lie. You can. Find out what it starts with, even if it's simply taking another breath. And if you need help, there are people who won't leave you in your fight. But remember most of all, you can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can.