The Seven Year Switch
One woman's journey to recognizing her dream.
Have you ever set yourself on a path that you thought, without a shadow of a doubt, would be the right one? After spending years, and thousands of dollars on that path, you almost talk yourself into thinking it's the correct one even if it isn't, because the alternative is scarier. You don't want to think that everything was done for nothing and that the degree (or degrees in my case) that you've been working on for so long are nothing more than an expensive piece of wall decor. It's a hard pill to swallow, especially when the truth has been there beneath the surface for years, but you thought that by not acknowledging it, it would go away.
People ask teenagers what they want to be when they're barely adults. They make them sign on the dotted line to lock themselves into financial ruin in an effort to make that half-baked dream come true because that is what they are expected to do.
When I was in high school, I was convinced that I wanted to be a forensic psychologist for some major government agency. Seven years later, and I've got the interview to do just that. I end up going through most of the hiring process to find that this job that supposedly was my dream for seven years is the source of major anxiety to the point where it is almost crippling.
It worked out and I was taken out of the running for the job, much to my relief. Then, I was left reevaluating my life to see where I could possibly go from there.
And then it hit me.
For years I'd considered writing as a hobby. It was something that I did for my university's literary magazine or when I had the itch to write. I'd written various works of transformative fiction and poetry for fun and it was something that always made me happy. There's a saying about how if you do something you enjoy, you'll never work a day in your life. For writing, that seems literal since a writer is a dime-a-dozen. Anyone can be a writer. It's harder to get from writer to published author, but the idea of even trying sent a thrill down my spine.
It was almost forbidden territory. It was a dirty secret I was afraid to share with my family since I didn't know how they would react. If they took it poorly, could I bring myself to go down that path if it was one I would be walking alone? Not to mention I had to battle the well-known fear of whether or not I could be good enough to take that path and succeed.
Thankfully, my family took it better than I expected and, like some of the best ideas, I applied for a MFA program in creative writing on a whim. I got the news that I was accepted weeks after being rejected from the other job.
It was in that moment that I realized that the universe was telling me that I needed to reset. If I had gotten so much resistance and anxiety from my original path, then it probably wasn't the path for me. Deep down, it was something I had known for a while, but I was too afraid to admit it to myself since I had already come so far. Starting over was something that seemed scary, but I was wrong. They say that the truth will set you free. Being honest with myself about what I wanted to do with my life was the most liberating feeling I have ever had, and I learned a powerful lesson: never lie to yourself.
At the end of the day, all we have to live with are ourselves and our choices. No one else has to live my life but me, and it's about time I start living it the way I want.