“How does anyone become anything…?” I ask hypothetically to my friend as she weaves with ease in and through traffic toward LAX. We had just been catching up the last two years of our lives when we both got quiet. She recently moved to a new city and is going through a breakup with her long-term boyfriend. I got married, moved across country and am still trying to figure out what to do with my life. In many ways, we are the same kids we were as bunkmates in college.
“You just do it,” she laughs, “You just take the first step.” She tells me about this guy we know who was a Lyft driver for several years, and then just decided one day to become a ramen chef in Japan. “One day, he just decided that’s what he wanted to become because he liked ramen so much. So, he just went.” “He just went?” “Yeah, last I heard he’s actually doing pretty well.”
Hearing this is both infuriating and comforting. It’s like telling someone who’s been wandering around the desert for a day without water that they have a full canteen in their backpack. I’ve spent the last several years in millennial limbo – trying to merge the lofty dreams that I had in college with the reality of adulthood. All the while, managing a constant state of self-doubt and confusion with monthly payments toward my student loans.
After my flight home, I nestle into my corner in the living room. It’s March, and there’s still frost on the gently blossoming trees. I’m too cheap to turn on the heater, so I try to steal as much warmth from my freshly steeped mug of Jasmine White Tea. The minty aroma opens my senses, wakening my still jet-lagged state of mind. The therapeutic white leaves seem to calm my heart and ease my loud thoughts.
Of course, it’s not always that easy as liking something, and then going for it. But, I do admire the courage it took for our friend to commit to it. Even if he failed - even if he made it to Japan, turned around and came back home - at least he cared enough about his dream to take that first step. When was the last time I was brave enough to silence those ever-present voices that tell me that I’m not good enough or that I won’t make it? I breathe and take another sip. What’s the next step I can take toward my dream? I open a new tab to find out about master’s programs in the Orange County area. There are a handful of counseling programs in Southern California with start dates in Spring of 2018.
Our chapter in Pennsylvania is nearing the end. I feel the paragraphs tying up their loose ends. I’ve learned so much within these last two years – about myself, about bravery and vulnerability. I’ve learned how to dress in negative degree weather, how to shovel out a car and scrape stubborn ice off a windshield. I’ve learned how to make new friends, how to cook Korean dishes with only American ingredients and how to properly use Microsoft Excel. I feel the new chapter on my fingertips in the next couple pages, and I feel something in me begin to blossom.