Thursday, October 9, 2014

Navigating the Waters of Uncertainty: Part 1

As a writer, there are two things I love: analogies, and quotes. Thankfully, Albert Einstein had an answer to both when he said, "If one tries to navigate unknown waters one runs the risk of a shipwreck."

Wise words, no? But there's something about them that concerns me. Too many people are taking Einstein's advice. They see unknown waters, aqua incognita, and steer their ship in a safe direction, missing out on the beautiful paradise that lay just beyond the treacherous unknown.

During my last semester of college, before I graduated, I was in love with risk. In January, I broke off my engagement, a decision which had uncomfortable consequences like having to live four months with my ex-fiancé and losing out on a certain future. Still, the experience gave me a high. I felt free and in charge, probably for the first time in my life. 

But it's easy to get excited about risk when you're still living within a comfortable structure. Being in college decided the course of the next few months for me. After that, I was going to spend a month in Europe with my aunt. I was considering a paid 10-week summer internship. I knew where I was going. Beyond that, I wasn't sure, but it was too far off to have to care.

I knew I wanted to go overseas and travel. That was a decision that, up until my newfound risk-taking lifestyle, seemed far off and unobtainable. I was scared and insecure to say yes to decisions like this, but no more. I could flit around and tell everyone of my grand plans to go abroad, fashioning myself superior to those who would choose the stable route and get full-time jobs right out of college. 

Going abroad without a plan - what a risk! I was obsessed with going against the grain. Society says marriage? Not for me. Society says work? Not for me. Still, true uncertainty was alien to me.  

I didn't learn the meaning of true uncertainty until I made the decision some time during my journalism internship in Raleigh to return home with my parents. I was adamantly opposed to the idea until reality started to kick in and I realized I had no prospects to sustain me in another location until I was ready to move overseas. The best option for me was to return home, do my best to keep the money I did have safe inside my bank account, and prepare. 

When I came to terms with this plan, I had high hopes. My mother has always needed my help purging our house of useless clutter, and without any obligations to pull me away from home I would have the time to devote to the task. It would help me to fashion myself as a world traveler, a minimalist, owner of only the necessities. I'd have all the time in the world to write, read, draw, play music, act, all the activities I had safely tucked away in some inner attic for the entirety of college. 

Home has never been a pleasant place for me to be. I have depression, and summers and spring breaks spent at home always clothed me in that mental straitjacket. I thought since I had grown so much so far this year, learned to truly be myself, that I could go home and heal instead of suffer. 

I was right, but it took awhile. I have been home since late August, and the smoke on the battleground inside my mind is just now starting to clear. I'll explain what happened and how I arrived at this clearer space in my next post. Until then, be diligent in joy.

- Elena

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