Friday, November 07, 2014

Thinking about where I am now...

Funny how sometimes you read something, and it just sticks with you.

In a few weeks, I'll be leaving my current job and starting my second job as a pharmacist, and as things are starting to wind down for me, I'm forcing myself to take a breather and think about what's happened these past few years.

I remember that point nearly 10 years ago, when I was at a crossroads in my life, and thinking about where my life was headed. At the time, I remember thinking, "Okay, nothing else has worked. Let's see what happens with this."

Now, I see what was really happening. I had run out of options. All my idealism in my 20s, the thoughts that I would change the world, change society, run and win a revolution suddenly smacked me as I was thrown into my 30s. The revolution wasn't going to happen. I wasn't going to be the scholar combining the activism of Asian American studies and the pragmatism of American sociology and become the new sexy scholar touting intersectionality. I wasn't going to be the nonprofit star who stared down a failing agency in the face and brought it out of its ashes. I wasn't going to be the big queer Asian activist that brought respect to all my communities. Being thrown into the limelight was not my cup of tea. I had failed in all these attempts, miserably. I had lost that desire to do any of these things. The life that I had known, the identities that I had claimed so fervently, none of that made sense to me anymore.

I really had nowhere else to go.

All of my failed dreams, my attempts to make something of myself, were staring at me. The only path that laid open was the one that I didn't want to go through, to become a pharmacist--because it would prove I was wrong, and my family was right. Looking back, that was an incredibly stupid reason to have such a fear. But all I had at that point was pride, and pride wasn't enough to keep me where I was. I had to take a step. I knew damned well I didn't want to be stuck at that confusion, and that's what scared me the most.

Little did I know that as I trudged down that road with that first awkward step back into my postbac in August 2005 I had to let go of everything that I had held onto in order to chase that dream.

When my mom passed in 2003, a slow but definite purge of friends I had met when I was first came out in the mid-1990s had become a hemorrhage once I dove headlong into postbac for prepharm and pharmacy school. People who saw me as merely the life of the party, the clown, suddenly stayed away and stopped talking to me because I had serious concerns about where my life was headed. And I was okay with that. I suddenly had nothing in common with these friends. I was better able to identify and cut off toxic friendships. I maintained minimal contact with most of my family, partly because of the still-ongoing weird estrangement of my sister from the rest of my family. I realized that if I were to really go for this crazy bizarre dream, I had to cut off all the bullshit that was surrounding me so I could better focus my energy on achieving that dream.

At the same time that happened, a whisper that I had tried to ignore for years suddenly became a statement and a scream too loud to ignore. I had to end my relationship with my now-ex. It wasn't that he himself was necessarily holding me back; for me, the current relationship represented a security blanket of emotions that held me back. The security blanket was now working against me, and I had to break free from it. While the breakup was completely fine with him, the emotions attached to it were another story.

Pharmacy school itself ended up being a finishing fire for me. I had to gain confidence in myself, to defend my choices, to be able to compromise, admit defeat if I was wrong. I became thick skinned; but sometimes to the point where I had to hide my emotions. Towards the last few weeks of school, I would find myself crying, partly because of the stress and figuring out what I was going to do next. But it was extremely cathartic. It was the last bits of my old self being washed away in tears of frustration. I had become tantalizingly close to finally achieving that dream, and also naively thinking that it was an end of a journey. Perhaps it was also because I was dealing with men that I shouldn't have been involved with, and that was the last part that I needed to grow up from.

My first job, the one that's ending soon, was good; is good. But it's left me exhausted sometimes, unable to have a social life; unable to look for good guys to date. This new job that starts soon, more than anything, it represents a chance to have my life back--and just as that happens, I meet somebody who wants to take things slow, to get to know me and not jump into a relationship. That when I wasn't looking, he happened to show up out of nowhere--even though he had actually been waiting for me for months. And I was finally able to meet him halfway.

So maybe this is a sign that there is never an end to this journey until there really is the end. Pharmacy school was the last big life goal I wanted to finish, but it feels like that I now am discovering and looking for all the little and medium life goals that I have yet to discover and complete.

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