Go, go, go, go now, out of the nest it’s time
Go, go, go now circus girl without a safety net
Here, here now, don’t cry
You raised your hand for the assignment
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet, be a good soldier.
First my left foot, then my right behind the other—
-Tori Amos, “Mother”
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a bookworm and I’ve loved to write. I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember and often used to go Young Authors’ Conferences to share my oh-so-thrilling tales of cats or NASCAR or whatever I used to write about. I still write stories often (as in, I have a ton of notebooks filled and many files that I’ll never get the guts to publish sitting on the hard drives of every computer I’ve ever owned or used), and I don’t think I’ll ever not write. When I was a kid I narrated my life in my head—“She turned on her heel and angrily stomped down the hall of her middle school as she left her friend to think over the note she’d written,” etc., which seems weird, but I’m sure someone else has done this before. Maybe you’ve even done it. I certainly won’t judge you if you have, because I catch myself doing it even now if I’ve been reading a lot.
But because of this, I’ve kind of always thought of my life in chapters. Not specifically most of the time, but when I’ve had a drastic life change or even just a traditional shift toward something else, I’ve thought of it as “one chapter ending, another beginning”—kind of similar to the “when one door closes, another opens” proverb, just with books, in a language I’m incredibly familiar with. It gets confusing, though, when chapters can start within chapters. Within the overarching chapter of my four-year experience in a challenging, college-oriented high school were chapters of friendships, relationships, and events all of their own; my dad’s illness could have been a chapter all in itself but not only falls under the high school umbrella, but the summer between high school and college and then the beginning of the college chapter. Even the after-effects of his death carry over to today. It’s hard to determine where chapters begin and end, and that’s why this system is a little flawed and why I don’t restrict myself to it.
I’ve always felt like my life was pretty textbook, even though experiences make people all different. But as far as experiences I’ve had, I don’t know if my life would make a great movie. I mean, it’s got all the makings of Hollywood films these days—drama, romance, adventures (small ones but adventures nonetheless), tragedy, overcoming tragedy and ending in success. But the story isn’t over. Now, as I start my graduate school journey (which, admittedly, I should have started back in December, but too late to change that), I look forward to a new chapter. But where should it begin?
If I get into Chapel Hill up in North Carolina—my number one, dream-grad school choice, I will be, of course, moving up to North Carolina and living with my aunt. I’ve been reluctant to talk about how excited I feel because I will miss so many things about Alabama—Birmingham and Montevallo both. My roots are here, I’ve lived in the same house since I was one-and-a-half, and before then my parents and I lived in a house literally a street away from the current one. This house was my grandparents’ house, and I share land in Pinson with my sister that’s been in our family since my dad’s grandfather. So, I have a lot of connections to Alabama and I know—it’s just in my personality—I will get homesick so much while I’m up in NC.
But at the same time…I’m ready. I’m ready for a change of scenery, ready for a fresh start, even though I’m terrified. I’m shy, despite how I sometimes can come across, and generally socially awkward, and theoretically, I won’t know anybody in my program. When I went to JCIB, I knew a few people from my W.J. Christian days, even though I only ever became close to one of them my sophomore year—all my other friends and relationships were with people I met in high school.
The same goes for college (though I never dated anybody there)—I knew a few people, but ended up hanging out mostly with people I met at Montevallo. But that’s not going to be the case up in Chapel Hill. Of course, I’ll be living with my aunt and my cousin and uncle and other aunt and uncle will be in the state and surrounding areas, but school-wise…I won’t know anybody. And that’s kind of what I’ve wanted for a while. This combined with a more confident-in-myself me, a me who’s finally emerged as an individual with a ‘self’ even if that ‘self’ is comprised of my experiences, others’ influences and their experiences, and my own personality—as is everybody’s ‘self’ if you ask me—makes me eager to test out the Real World Me.
And honestly, I don’t even know what the ‘Real World Me’ means. I’m not going to change; I’ll still be the books-loving, writing-loving, video game-loving, anime-watching person I’ve grown into being. But testing it out on people I don’t know at all is the scary part, I guess. I have the chance to forge an identity and I don’t want it to be one that I end up being unhappy with, but how can I change myself that much? Am I happy with who I am, with the main character of my life? Yeah, I really am. I’ve overcome a lot, I struggle a lot day-to-day with my patience and depression and overall happiness, and of course I have things I want to change about myself both physically and mentally and behaviorally—who doesn’t?—but overall, I’m okay with who I am. But I’ve stagnated here in Alabama, and I don’t feel myself growing as an individual anymore like I want to, and this certainly plays into how I feel about leaving.
But I guess I just recently realized how excited I am for the potential to go where nobody knows my name (except for, of course, my family up there) so that I have the chance to really and truly meet strangers for the first time. Undergrad at Montevallo really did help me establish myself as my own person way more than IB did (probably because at high school your personality is still so malleable and really indistinct) but Chapel Hill will be the penultimate chance for this I get—or Greensboro, or wherever I go to graduate school if it’s not in the state of Alabama. And I’m excited.
But I’m also scared out of my mind.
Well, here’s to the chapter titled ‘Graduate School Preparation’, subtitled ‘Acceptance or Rejection.’ Let’s hope it’s a good one with a happy ending, the Acceptance ending. Because don’t we all love happy endings?
First, my left foot, then my right behind the other…