Your Path is Okay
I had my life figured out. Get my B.A. in psychology, graduate. Get my masters, graduate. Get my Ph.D., graduate. Move to Boston, work as a clinical psychologist on the psych ward floor at Mass Gen. Meet a doctor in the lunch line of the cafeteria, get married, move to the suburbs, that whole American dream.
That was my path.
None of that happened. I did graduate with B.A. in psychology but I decided not to go for my masters or Ph.D. I moved back home to Pittsburgh and not to Boston. I blog and write from home not from the psych ward floor. I’m single and focusing on my career. And yeah, I do live in the suburbs.
As much as I loved psychology, I just loved writing more. I spent countless nights writing research papers on the effects of false memories on cognition and days bent over my notes trying to memorize the diagnostic criteria for personality disorders. And all the while I was doing that, I just wanted to be finishing a book. I’d be sitting in class, listening to a lecture on social cues and all I could think about was incorporating that into a book.
My junior year, I started my creative writing minor with an intro to poetry class. Even though poetry is not my preferred genre, I loved being able to break up all my research heavy classes with something more casual and creative. That semester, I had my first published poem in my school’s literary magazine. The next two years, I took two fiction classes, screenplay and scriptwriting, and an advanced topics class focused on coming of age. I enjoyed every minute of that classes and I realized that my love of writing was feeling like it eclipsed the need to be on the path I in my mind.
I came home, started working seriously on my current book. I threw myself into blogging. I focused on my writing program. It’s hard but I’m happy this is the path I chose because I’m doing something I love and something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to publish a book because I’ve been writing since I was nine. I want to be a best selling author because I’ve worked hard on my stories.
Despite my choice to forgo anymore school for the time being, my friends have made other choices. I have friends in nursing school, in a masters program in psychology, finishing their degree in engineering, and working their dream jobs in new cities. I two friends who don’t even live in this country for the time being. I won’t lie, sometimes I look at them and wonder if I should have done that. Gone to school, moved to a different state, taken a dream job that had a little more security. Some days I wish I did, others—most days—I’m glad I didn’t. That’s their path and it’s right for them. But I’m about 97% sure, that’s it’s not right for me. That 3% is doubt because there’s always doubt.
This is my path.
And just because it’s different from those around me, just because it’s a little non-traditional, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It doesn’t mean I’m lost. It just means it’s mine. This path is okay, and whatever it happens to be, so is yours.
For this post, I partnered with another blogger, Tiffany Khyla, to swap stories and get more perspectives on this topic.