Oh, The Plans We Make…
This time last year, I had just graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees and I was preparing to enter graduate school in pursuit of my Master’s. Until my very last semester in college, I had planned on getting my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. But then I visited some programs, did more research, and after shopping around, worried that it was not for me.
Instead, after years of much bullying—er, encouragement—from respected professors, I decided to accept an assistant teaching position with the English department and continue studying creative writing. It was not a bad decision. I love the department and the faculty, I had put down roots there and felt it was a place I could grow as a writer and as an individual. But preparing to start my second semester of teaching and taking classes this last August, I could not help but feel like I was barely treading water, sometimes swallowing mouthfuls, in pursuit of something I had never really decided on—instead I had “slid” into it, much like a couple who has lived together for a while and says, “Whelp, I guess we might as well get married,” not because they are really excited about it but rather because it feels like “the thing to do.”
What A Difference A Year Makes
This time last year, I did not feel like I had any agency in my life. A middle child, a recovering people-pleaser, I had always put one foot in front of the other, kept my head down and done well in school because it was “the thing to do” and I enjoyed doing it. Until I was 21, every moment had already been decided for me: get good grades in the current school year and graduate to the next, then get into a good college and get a degree. I had done that—in fact, I had gotten two degrees in under four years. Unfortunately, I was not any closer to knowing what that next step was.
So I quit. I did something drastic just to do something of my accord, not because someone else had suggested it or encouraged me to and not because I felt somewhere, deep down, that it was what I should do. I got a job. I got a second job. I am working a lot but I am doing things I like because I like them and not because they are going to carve out the perfect job path to get my dream job—whatever that is. I am writing more now than I ever did in a creative writing program. There is nothing drawing on my creative faculties but my desire to create, and that is a refreshing change. I started a bullet journal—if you are not familiar with the fad, I would highly recommend looking into it. It is like a planner, to-do list, and journal all rolled into one self-directed, doodle-filled creation. It is incredibly freeing but very functional and it makes me feel more like the master of my time.
2016: Living It According To Me
This time next year, I will be getting married and going back to school to finish my Master’s. But for now, for the rest of this year, I will be gentle with myself, with my frazzled mind and fragile heart. I will ignore the pressure to enjoy what I am constantly assured is the Most Exciting Time of my Life—because it does not feel exciting, it feels like standing in front of a fire hose with my eyes stuck open. This year, I am not setting goals for the year to come—I am going to listen to my needs and respond accordingly, one day at a time, without the flawed assumption that I know myself well enough already.
Happy New Year everyone!
Our beautifully defiant Katelyn Roth lives in Pittsburgh, KS. She writes on a variety of topics relating to women empowerment, psychology, healthy relationships and anything that supports the mental health of women. Her recent post was the last in our series on Emptiness – “Depression And Emptiness: My Story.”
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