I’ve always been sure that having a plan was the best way to have a happy life. After visiting a city that I never planned on going to, I have realised that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I have spent the past three days trying to remember which direction the G train was meant to go, wondering how there could possibly be this many birds in a museum, coming to the conclusion that New Yorkers must love bread in all of its various forms, questioning if wanting to pet every dog on the street is unrealsitic, and realising that the best part of having a plan is being willing to change it.
I’m not really sure when I decided that New York City wasn’t a place I needed to see, but I’m an absolute moron. I know, I know. But listen, I think there may have been a method to my madness.
I’m stubborn. Yeah, some of you know that already – okay, okay. But, I think I’m learning that my stubbornness stems from a different place than I once thought. I think I’ve been stubborn because I’ve been afraid. Afraid of changing my mind. Afraid of veering off the path I set for myself. Afraid of being wrong. Afraid of taking risks. Afraid of being afraid, really. All of this comes back to my idea that I needed to have a plan. But, this weekend has made me rethink all of the things in my life that didn’t go to plan, and how they bettered my life.
I never planned to go to Ohio Wesleyan University. In my junior year of high school, I discovered Lehigh University and their sociology programme. It was 6 hours away from my hometown, aesthetic as all hell, and had a striking resemblance to the school a certain wizard attended. So, naturally, I loved it. I remember telling everyone about it and posting pictures on all of my social media platforms with captions like, “I feel so at home” and “This is where I have to be.” Well, things changed. I ended up 2 hours away from home at OWU, studying theatre, and making some of the best memories in the world.
I always planned to go abroad, and I did. But the way I got there was pretty different than I thought it would be. I was hellbent on getting there as quickly as possible. A part of me thought that if I didn’t get something to happen right away that it would never happen, that my chances would disappear. OWU does this thing where you can apply for a grant to fund a project that will assist you in or further your course of study, a Theory to Practice Grant. When I discovered this, I set my plan: sort out a project in England and apply for the grant. So, I spent my evenings researching theatre internships that I could attend for 2 weeks in either spring semester or over the summer. I came across some brilliant opportunities and crafted lots of emails, but my heart became set on two programmes: An acting school in Essex or a sort of internship at the Globe. I sent my emails, received information, and somewhere along the line it just didn’t work. I was heartbroken. I was certain that this meant I would never be able to get over to the country I’d been in love with my whole life… until a series of twists and turns led me to the study abroad office, where the advisor led me to Arcadia University and their connection with Royal Holloway, University of London. It was that university that I ended up attending, meeting the best friends I could ever have hoped for, and spent not 2 weeks, but a whole year doing what I love, where I love.
Amidst all of this, I had been dating someone who very clearly did not return the same amount of love as I had given to them over the course of two years. We split up just before I went to England due to an issue with infidelity on his part. If I would have been with him when I went abroad, my experience would’ve been vastly different. He had a lot of control over me at that time of my life, which never would have allowed room for me to grow and explore the way I did.
Then, one of the biggest gut-wrenching plan changers… Royal Holloway offered to let me stay. I could finish my degree out in England. I could stay in the place it took so much work and time to get to. I mean, that was the plan anyway, always had been. Move to England. Full stop. Forever. Naturally, being the “go big or go home” enthusiast that I am, this seemed like the best way to do it. This was probably the single most stressful moment of my life at that point – do I just stay and hold on to my dream, or do I go back to Ohio and hope that somehow, some way I’d be able to make it back to England soon? But, there was the ugly truth about life that ended up making the decision for me… things like that cost money. And, well, I was fresh outta that. So, I came back to the United States. The summer months that followed proved very difficult for my heavy heart and jumbled head to handle. My anxiety disorder sky rocketed and I ended up changing my medication after the 13-year partnership I’d made with my old one just stopped working.
Upon returning to OWU the next fall, things were really tough. I felt trapped. I felt like everything was falling apart. What happened to my plan? How did I let it slip away? How did I let everything get so… wrong?
Except, it wasn’t. Everything couldn’t have gone more right.
After coming back, I was introduced to one of the best friends and sorority sisters I’ve ever known: Mackenzie. She and I are similar in ways I haven’t encountered before. She’s not only my sister or my friend, she’s the greatest support I could’ve asked for. She’s the reason I began seeing the good in my situation. She has changed me for the better. If I wouldn’t have come back to OWU, I never would have met her. That’s fate, I think. Meeting people at certain times, just missing them at others. There’s really no other explanation for it.
Then of course, I never planned to fall in love before going back to the UK. In fact, I made it my plan not to. I told Mackenzie all about how I “didn’t want a relationship” and how it “didn’t make sense” and that I “was leaving forever after this year.” Haha, what a fool.
If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll remember a post I made a few months ago about a man I fell in love with and my experience with coming out as bisexual. Well, surprise, none of that was part of my plan. My glorified plan.
Things have changed since then in the name of “sticking to the plan” and doing what “made sense.” But, this past weekend has made me realise that sometimes those two things have nothing to do with making the right decision.
I’ve learned that making the right decision means making the one that feels right. My step-by-step plan doesn’t really feel right anymore. I’ve grown a lot over the past few years as a person and I forgot somewhere along the way that my plans need to grow with me. Things change. Plans change. And I don’t think I’ve ever been more okay with the idea of that.
The new plan is not to have one. I just want to go each day saying and doing what feels right. I reckon that whatever that leads me to is the right outcome.
So, New York… thank you. Thank you for the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feelings, and the memories. But, most importantly, thank you for taking my plan and tearing it to shreds, because I’ve never needed something more.