I’ve always had a fear of settling down.
In every realm of my life, I’ve learned to deal with that seductive whisper of the bigger, better deal. Ordering at a restaurant, picking a movie, where to go on vacation, what career to pursue, they all end with the same face palm. There’s something better, I know it, but why can’t I think of it?
When it comes to choosing where to settle down, sometimes I feel that the privilege I’ve had to travel overwhelms me. While my close friends consider what neighborhood of Chicago they want to live in—“I could buy a beanie and live in Wicker Park or invest in a puke shield and opt for Wrigleyville…”—I feel paralyzed, living at home and grappling with where in the world to start my life. I have friends that I envy living in Uruguay, Thailand, and Britain, and college friends living the 20-something dream in expensive nooks of San Francisco. But where do I belong?
Contributing to my quarter-life crisis is the impending career shift I’ve been delaying since not getting into medical school this past year. My life has taken a series of odd turns since graduating from college: opting not to apply to medical school, traveling, deciding to go to medical school, falling in love with writing, and not getting into medical school.
My family says they aren’t worried about me, that “I have the skills I need to get a good job,” but what job? I love being a medical assistant, but the thrill I get from writing and drawing makes me feel like I was put on the earth for a reason (other than to drink whiskey and eat chocolate).
So, where to begin?
I could indulge in the Bohemian artist in me and move to New Orleans. Work at a community center as an art teacher, volunteer at local non-profits, and spend nights listening to free live music and meeting other wanderers.
I could move to San Francisco and flourish in the team environment of a start-up or magazine, focusing on my career and working towards the opportunity to express myself creatively…someday.
I could stay in Chicago and enjoy the time I have to be with my family, the flexibility I have working at my mom’s midwifery practice, spending time with familiar patients and still having the energy to write and draw at the end of the day.
I could go do a post-baccalaureate and re-apply to medical school. Invest in a long career of helping others, at the expense of my free time and with the many administrative headaches I will be handed by the healthcare system.
I’ve always been content to go through my life using a pencil, comforted with the impermanence and ease with which I can redraft, erase, and alter my decisions. But now it’s as if someone has taken my pencil and given me a pen, and I’m terrified to put it to paper.
I guess the only thing worse than creating something you aren’t proud of, is never creating anything at all. Though it’s terrifying, I know in my heart that it is time to make a choice, because I won’t be any closer to knowing what I want until I discover what I don’t.
With all of the fear of making the wrong decision, I feel safe in one thing. That as long as I keep drawing, and keep writing, my soul will always feel nurtured to some degree. Maybe in life that’s all I can really ask for: the ability to find something that allows me to live and something that allows me to live.
I might just be lucky to have found the latter first.