today’s blog prompt is “something you have to forgive yourself for.”
oh, i don’t have time to even try to pick one. i don’t know. do i have to tell a story if i do?
not finishing college.
being horrible with my money.
gaining a bunch of weight.
not being a good aunt.
not being the best mom to flan that i could be.
not being the best daughter and sister that i could be.
making bad relationship decisions. over and over again.
never really following through on anything.
never really having a career.
only applying to one college.
never pursuing my dreams.
i think that’s about it for now. i don’t tell you these things to be validated. i say them because they are the things that linger, that haunt me, that make me wish i could get a do-over. that make me wonder what if? what then? i know that’s wasted time and keeps me from the sunlight of the spirit, so i try not to live in the past. but there are those times when i am struck with a pang that cuts me to the quick.
i guess i’ll tell a story about this a little. when i went to NYC for the first time ever this summer, i had one. i came for a conference, and i went early and stayed late so i could take in as much of the city as i could. after everyone else had gone home, i found myself able to wander around the city by myself a bit. i went to take a tour of the general service office of alcoholics anonymous, which is quite a bit north and right on the west side of manhattan on the hudson.
when i came up out of the subway, i was right smack dab in the middle of columbia university and barnard. the students were just beginning classes and there was that whole new student/parent/registration/introduction buzz in the air. i just looked around me and was filled with the headiness of the trees and the college and the smell of the river. it was beautiful. it was ivy league.
i was also simultaneously filled with sadness and regret. this was the college life i had always longed for. when i imagined going away, when i knew that i’d live in a big city (i.e. new york city), this was exactly what i had in mind. when i’d tell my grandpa that i’d go to harvard and be a lawyer, this was certainly the kind of atmosphere i had envisioned.
yet, even with a near 4.0 gpa and participation in newspaper and forensics; with classes in AP english and history, i couldn’t find the means to fill out college applications. was it because i didn’t want to ask my parents for the application fees? was it because i just couldn’t get around to writing all those essays? was it because i had a subconscious fear of failure? of success? was it because …. i don’t know.
i went to a college fair and i met people from north central college in naperville and i heard that i could be on the air at their radio station after a couple of weeks. i toured the campus and it was small and inviting. i met people i liked, i decided i wanted to go there. i got a scholarship, this seemed right.
and i suppose it was. i met people i still know and love today. i don’t know if i would have fared well at a big school. i had my first major depression when i was 18, and ended up dropping out/getting kicked out of school after sophomore year. by the end of my 20th year, i was finding drugs and alcohol and headed into a fine relationship with them that was to last about 8 years.
but i can’t lie. there’s always going to be a part of me that wonders … what if? what then? what if i had actually applied to northwestern’s medill school of journalism? what if i had made a run at the university of chicago? what if i had applied to some ivy league colleges? to columbia? to harvard? what might have happened then? maybe nothing different. maybe i would have just ended up depressed and emotionally bankrupt hours away from my home.
but maybe not. it’s pointless to live in the past, but it’s something i need to forgive myself for. for not taking a chance. for not having the wherewithal to complete applications. to even branch out to bradley or cornell or duke or drake or carthage or madison. god, i probably would have *died* at madison.
it’s all something i need to work on, but that’s the question for today, and that’s where it led. take it or leave it, i suppose. you can forgive me later.