Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dreams

I’ve always allowed myself to be easily overwhelmed, much like I expressed in yesterday’s posts. I remember an instance in my final year of high school (how could I forget) that almost resulted in my not going to college in the fall as planned.

I was always a good student. I knew I had to be, because my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college like the rest of my friends parents could. I knew if I wanted to get out of dodge and make my life better, I’d have to rely on scholarships to get me there. I talked with my guidance counselor ad nauseum about my options. I had decided to go to a state school to increase my chances of getting the money I needed, and we had decided my best bet was to apply for the Presidential scholarship, for which I was more than qualified. It was all but a done deal. In my final meeting before I submitted the scholarship application materials, I got the deadlines and submission information from my guidance counselor, and I was feeling pretty confident.

I submitted the materials and heard back about a month later—I didn’t get the scholarship. Why? Because the deadline to be considered for the scholarship was December 15 and my guidance counselor had told me it was January 15, so even my “overachieving” attitude resulting in my sending it in early, or so I thought (in late December), was null and void. In the letter they told me I surely would have gotten the scholarship if I had only turned in the paperwork on time. FUCK!

The next few weeks resulted in my parents and I meeting numerous times with my idiot of a guidance counselor, the principal, and the dean of admission at the college, but dealing with a bureaucratic process like this, nothing could be done. My only option was to wait a full year, don’t take any college credits in the meantime, and reapply for the scholarship the following year.

I was devastated and hysterical for a good two weeks. I was so scared that if I didn’t find out a way to go to college in the fall, I’d somehow miss my window of opportunity and never get out. I’d get a job and find reasons to stay and not go. I’d seen it happen to some of my friends who were older, and I didn’t want to fall into that trap. This isn’t to say that I think college is the only option for everyone. It’s not, and I know plenty of people who never went to college who are wildly successful and do things they absolutely love. I just knew that I needed the process of going to college for me to make the transition into an independent life. It’s the only way I could see opportunity, and I still believe till this day that I’d be a radically different person if I had never went. Am I doing what I went to school for? Well, not necessarily, but my being there provided me with opportunities that I’ve built from and that have gotten me to where I am today.

Back to the devastation… I lost it, pure and simple. I was grasping at straws trying to figure out how to make it to college in the fall, and I think that period of about a month was the most single stressful time in my life. During this time, I had a very memorable dream:

I was walking along a familiar road near my house when I got called into the basement of a house. In my dream I knew the basement of this house served as a church, and so I was confused as to what was going on.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” the woman at the door said. “Come in! Come in!”

And as I entered the basement door, I was handed a tiara and bouquet of flowers—like the ones you can get at the grocery store, half dead and presented in clear plastic instead of tissue paper. I looked down, and I was in a frilly yellow dress, like one you’d see in an old-school beauty pageant. The woman took me by the arm and lead me up a small step ladder and onto a folding metal chair that was sitting on top of a folding table in the middle of the room covered in wood-paneled walls. I was being crowned the Queen of White Trash.

All my life I’ve been afraid of what would happen or who I would be if I didn’t do things 100% perfectly, but you know what? Looking back on it, I’ve never done things perfectly anyhow, and everything has turned out okay. So what if it took my nearly six years to put myself through college, and so what if I at one time had to work 5 different part-time jobs to do it? So what if I do things out of order?

Perhaps it’s always been fear that’s driven me to achieve, but I think that’s changing. I realized after my freak-out yesterday that it wasn’t fear that was pushing me to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I’m pushing me to accomplish what I want to accomplish. And that’s actually a pretty cool thing, because once I realized that, I realized I’m finally the boss of myself, and that means I don’t have to worry about being scolded by anyone for doing something that’s impossible for me to do. Pushing myself is good, but pushing myself to the point where I was yesterday is not good.

Fortunately, the things I want to get accomplished can get accomplished as soon as there’s time—they don’t have to rely on a bureaucratic process. Also fortunately, the dreams I have today are far less terrifying then they have been in the past. I’ll be okay. I just need to relax.

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