"California here we come
Right back where we started from"
If I could go back in time and change anything about my life over the last 27-years, I would not. Everything I experienced brought me to the place I am today and shaped me into the happily imperfect person I am today.
Ten years ago I was a senior in high school, applying to colleges, studying for AP classes, working part-time at a local drive thru, and trying to make the most out of my last year as a kid. I had no idea where I would be in the fall of 2004. I had no idea where my friends would be or if we would even keep in touch after we inevitably went our own ways following high school. I dreamed of leaving California, I dreamed of getting as far away as possible to see the world and to escape the terrible awkwardness that was my teenage years. I imagined all my teen insecurities about weight, acne, guys would somehow disappear or be fixed when I turned 18, graduated from high school, and moved away to college where people are all mature and confident.
Ten years ago I was scared and excited as I dreamed about all the amazing new things I would do once I was an adult. I was also incredibly naive and optimistic.
At 27-years-old I find that being an adult is nothing like I expected. Today I am nowhere near where I expected when I was a naive teenager creating dreams based on scenes from Saved By The Bell, Boy Meets World, and Dawson's Creek. Much to my disappointment, nothing about my life resembles a teen drama or sitcom. It would be easy to let this disappointment rule my life. To fall into a state of depression or let regret dictate my life choices. I could continue to chase after these dreams that I painted as a child when my understanding of the world was limited to what I saw on TGIF or SNICK. Instead, I chose to believe that maybe those dreams were never meant to be.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9There is not a single thing I have done in the past 10-years that I regret. I might not have loved every bit of the last 10-years, I might not be proud of everything I ever said or did to people I love, but when I think about where I am today, even if it is not in line with my original ambitions, I'm happy.
The years of un[der]employment I encountered after receiving a Bachelors degree from the top public university were ego-crushing (or "humbling" and "character building" as some might say). However, during those years I had a chance at freedom and spontaneity that might not have been possible if I was buckled down in a career. I took courses at the community college. I met some great people and took classes in disciplines like Photography, Interior Design, and Accounting, that I absolutely enjoyed. I had a photograph I took briefly hang in a campus museum. I took on one of my greatest fears - Income Taxes - and received a service award for my involvement in a tax assistance program. I had dreams come true that I never even imagined for myself.
My experiences did not completely mirror those of Greendale, but to be quite honest, seeing my hard work translate into an "A" on my semester grades gave me a sense of pride and confidence that I had not felt since high school. At a time when I could not even get a job at a Sonic's Drive-In, I needed that little boost of confidence to remind me that I am not a total failure.
The catch-22 about having a full-time job is that, although you have money to afford certain activities, you hardly have the time or energy to do anything fun or spontaneous after a 40+ hour work week. Un[der]employment offers endless time, but little funds. I'm happy to say that I believe I took full advantage of my un[der]employment. I got free tickets to show tapings and to small plays in Los Angeles, I camped out on the street in Westwood to experience the glitz of a big red carpet premiere, I took more day/weekend trips to Las Vegas than I can count, I watched CSI marathons on Spike like my life depended on it, and I felt no guilt taking on unpaid internships.
Today I am in a job that I enjoy (most of the time). It has nothing to do with what I studied at University or in community college, but I am pretty good at. I have business cards, employer provided health insurance, and a 401K - all things I now associate as making me an "adult," and all things that I never considered as important when I was kid. I still live in California and I can't imagine moving anywhere else. I keep in touch with a handful of friends from high school, and even some from elementary school, and I'm so grateful that our different paths have lead back to each other. I look back at my four-years of college, the people I met, the places I visited, the things I learned, and I would not change anything. I would not go back and change my major to something that translates better into the job market. I would not go back and do community college first in order to save money and shrink the cloud of debt that currently hangs above my head.