Amidst my visit back to NJ, I got to see my little sister Marie more than was planned. This was obviously a good thing. The second time I saw her I spent a whole day with her at college in a very cold part of upstate NY. One of the first things she did was rattle off her list of homework that she had to get done promptly. The stress poured out of her voice in a way that was much different from the usual college stress. It was the kind that somebody has when they were hit with a blinding realization that they’re heart is not where they actually are anymore. I remember getting teary-eyed as I got ready to leave. Looking around the dorm I said to her . . .
“I have a sinking feeling I’ll never be here again . . . “
And even though she had a good 3+ years left at this school, she agreed.
Marie always wanted to be a veterinarian. She’s always had a crazy sense of compassion towards animals that bloomed throughout her life. She is also very smart in that braniac scientific way that I just will never be. I’m sure she gets it from dad.
She decided to major in Biology to be a researcher in one of the smartest and most expensive schools for just that. The plan in life is usually to go to college right after high school assuming you know EXACTLY what you want to do. You get your credentials, get a job in that field, get married, start a family and work all the way until you retire . . .
Well, shit don’t happen like that anymore . . .
These days’ kids are forced into college right after high school barely knowing who they are let alone what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They stick with a major they wish they can change, often. But they don’t, because they believe they are stuck. They believe that the path they are on is the only way and veering from it would mean that in some way they failed. They rack up so much debt so that by the time they collect those damn pieces of paper, they are in severe panic mode. To get out of debt they take jobs they are over-qualified for to make ends meet. In this state of panic and lack, they usually attract partners and situations that are not for their highest good adding compounded stress to their lives having them wish they just took the time to figure out what they truly wanted and had the guts to change from the very beginning.
To me . . . THAT seems like failure, no?
On my last weekend in NJ, I get to see my sister one last time. This time, to help her move out of her dorm and away from the college she just started. She realized that she wasn’t in the right place and is taking some time to re-configure her path before she starts somewhere fresh again in the fall.
I guess I am writing this to make it clear about what I (and super supportive family) see of this situation against what the rest of the rat race world may see. It’s my duty as that crazy spiritual ‘eat pray love’ sister I suppose . . .
With the way we work, I’m not sure that I can ever promise her or myself that our minds won’t always be changing. However, it is clear that if happiness and doing something that you love is your destination and you are staying true to yourself then there is no shame, guilt or embarrassment about charting a new course and always being brave enough to adjust your sails. THAT is the furthest thing from failure I can imagine . . .