If you had told 14 year old me that this is where I would be at age 21 I would have been beyond surprised and no doubt disappointed in myself. I grew up thinking that going to college right after high school and then grad school and so on to eventually gain a “respectable” career was the only path for me. I told myself I needed to go to a “good” university, like Duke, pursue an education in a STEM field.
Looking back on all of that now it’s absolutely ridiculous. I wasn’t doing that for myself. Those weren’t my goals. Those weren’t my dreams. All of that was simply what perceived to be the path to bring me happiness and acceptance from my parents and society as a whole. I struggled with anxiety and depression for the majority of my life and at no point have those two aspects of my life hit me harder than when I left home and tried to sort all of this out only to find I was absolutely miserable following the “traditional” path. I found out that deep down I didn’t even want to study biology. Why was I doing this to myself? Why was I forcing myself to be so miserable? Simply to agonize my parents? They watched me fall deeper and deeper into the dark hole of depression while I said to myself that it was worth it and this is what they wanted from me. I wasn’t making them proud I was keeping them up at night worried sick, not knowing how I was doing as I was across the country and not communicating, too ashamed to tell them how poorly I was doing.
Deciding to figure things out for myself, to move back to my hometown, yet live separately from my parents and take my time figuring out what I want in life and knowing that I have time to pursue the proper education slowly and at my own pace has been the biggest relief I have ever felt. I have had to overcome the shame around the stigma of doing this but I have figured out that this is not at all something to feel ashamed about. The more I talk to adults that are older than me, the more I find that we’ve been lied to growing up. The majority of people don’t follow the same high school to college path, so many people take breaks or choose to deviate in some way or other because at this time of our lives it’s what we are suppose to do.
Your 20s are supposed to be the time where you are lost and just taking your time to figure everything out.
I am more responsible and feel more adult and put together than ever. I am confident and proud of myself. I Am Happy.