#DailyWings: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” -William Faulkner
Happy June, writers and friends! Wow, has it really been a month (and some change) since my last blog post? A part of me is appalled that I took a month-long hiatus from writing, but the other part of me wants to remind myself that there is a very good reason why I haven’t been around.
Four days ago, I was finally able to make an announcement that I’ve been waiting to make for months. It’s the kind of announcement that is usually made right after a college graduation, when people are moving to new places, taking on summer internships and full-time jobs, and traveling to other countries. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep blogging without being able to share this announcement with you; I felt like keeping it inside was more difficult than not blogging at all.
Thankfully, I’m finally in a good place both emotionally and professionally now where I can share this publicly with you and my friends here on social media.
Not many people know this, but I applied for graduate school last fall, not quite knowing where I wanted to go or, honestly, what I wanted to do with my life. All I’ve ever known is that writing is my passion – it’s what drives me, gives me purpose and guides me in everything that I do. At the same time, for years I’ve been absolutely terrified of making the “jump” for a career that is uncertain and under respected. That jump would mean facing inevitable failure (probably many times), rejection and constant self-doubt.
Still, I went ahead and applied to schools in North Carolina and the northeast. The waiting game was hard, even more so than the application process itself. It felt like applying to college all over again, except perhaps with more sophisticated vocabulary in my essays and a much more difficult standardized test. I thought maybe I would end up back at my favorite city, Boston. Then, in March, I got an email that I never, ever expected, and it changed all of my plans.
It’s weird for me to write this out, probably because I’m still having trouble believing it myself. At the end of July, I will finally be leaving my beloved home here in Chapel Hill for a much more intimidating, exciting adventure in New York City. Starting in August, I will be moving to New York to pursue my master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University.
It’s going to take me a while to get used to saying that: I’m going to graduate school, and I’m moving to the media capital of the world. What?! To say that I am lucky and overjoyed about this opportunity is a vast understatement. I never dreamed of making it to a place like New York City, much less get into a school like Columbia. As a kid, I always had a nurse accompany me at school and take care of me at home when my parents were at work. Things like sleepovers and field trips were pretty much out of the question because of my disability. And now, here I am, making housing arrangements in Manhattan and figuring out my moving date.
I still don’t know where I want to be in five, 10 years, but I’m confident that this is the right next step for me. I’m so excited to share all of my adventures in NYC on this blog, and to finally start blogging regularly once again. To all the challenges that I know are going to come my way, I say, “Bring it on.” I’m going to miss North Carolina immensely (especially the weather), but people say that you never get anywhere by staying comfortable.
Since I made this announcement a few days ago, I’ve been absolutely blown away by all of the support, encouragement and love that I’ve received from you all. The comments, the messages, the well-wishes…it’s been so overwhelming, but in the best way possible. I especially want to thank the people who have helped me get to where I am today. I never would have gotten this far without some important people in my life. I want to thank my family, my partner Andrew and my colleagues at Personify for supporting me in my decision. I also want to thank my friends, the NC Fellows program and every single person who has ever believed in me and my writing. I am incredibly grateful and feel like the luckiest person to have such an amazing support system of mentors, friends and family – thank you so much.
Why am I telling you all this? There are a couple things that helped make my decision in sharing this announcement here (because, honestly, it feels weird to yell out, “People, I’m moving to the Big Apple to study journalism and be a writer! Care about this!”). One, I never thought I would ever receive the opportunity to study at Columbia or move to New York City. Two, I spend a good amount of time mulling over regrets like any other writer aboard the struggle bus, thinking about how I’m 23 and haven’t written my first novel yet, and how I still haven’t made it onto Jezebel‘s homepage. I’m here to tell you that dreams can come true, only it may not happen in the way you expect.
One of my friends (shout-out to Stephany!) left a comment on my wall that made me think a lot about what I want to get out of graduate school. She said:
“congrats! grad school is a challenge and the most important thing is to have as much support as you can while you go through it. take your challenges, obstacles, and hesitations seriously. remember that different paths just take you down different roads—you’re always moving forward.”
It’s taken me years and years to realize and understand that last bit, the one about different paths. It’s something I’m still working on every single day. In a cut-throat industry like journalism, it’s easy to get lost in the competition and other people’s dreams; it’s easy to lose focus on the things that really matter. And so I like to say that I’m moving to New York City not to chase my dreams or anyone else’s, but to create my dreams and live them as they are unfolding. From all of this, I’ve learned to keep fighting for happiness and for what makes me feel alive. I’ve learned that you might not always get what you want, but sometimes the future can turn out even better than you could have ever hoped.