As I donned on my scrubs on Saturday morning, I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be going to work for 6 hours at a house I had never worked at before. I was pleasantly surprised by what awaited me.
One of the residents’ husband came to visit. He started talking to me about high school and my plans for college. We talked for a long time as I prepared lunch and I found what he had to say to be very interesting. He told me that he studied french as a child and studied abroad in France and Germany. When his own kids were old enough, he exchanged them with a friend in France’s children. His kids both turned out to be fluent in French.
I told him about my years learning Spanish and the opportunity to go to Paraguay during the summer to practice my Spanish. He encouraged me to do so and not to worry about missing out of average high school experiences because they truly aren’t that special. He told me that from 16 to 26 you have no obligations and hardly any responsibilities. No children or spouses to hold you back. That is the time to go and travel, he said. I believed him.
Then later on the same day while I was still at work, I had the most amazing experience speaking with a resident who was born in Sudetenland in 1939 right as WW2 kicked off. She told me about the fear that plagued the whole family because of her mother’s well known dislike for Hitler. Her father worked at a factory and the town she grew up in Czechoslovakia was constantly being bombed. One day when she was six years old, she was walking home from getting her hair done with her sister and the alarms started going off. Her older sister frantically put grass and dirt on her little sister’s head to camouflage her from the bomber planes flying overhead.
As she tells me this, I survey the boxes and boxes of knitted scarves and knitting supplies. She tells me that she learned to knit to help support her family after her father died when she was 12. I listen with admiration.
Her story and my conversation with my resident’s husband makes me think about my life and the person I want to be. I don’t want to live in fear or worry about missing out on high school. High school doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters in high school is getting good grades to get in to college. Once you graduate from high school, the people and the memories don’t matter nearly as much.
I want to live and help others live. I think about my own experiences with my friends and their reaction to some of my choices. I still remember very clearly when I told them I was going to start my pursuit of a career in the medical field by taking a CNA class over the summer. Without hesitating, my friend told me that I wouldn’t be able to get a job in a negative tone. I left it at that, determined to prove her wrong. And I did. I work for a great company now.
Today, I said goodbye to a person who I deeply cared about. He was moving to Texas and I was sad because I didn’t want him to leave. Then I realized how selfish that it. I can’t be angry with people for trying to hold me back when I was doing the exact same thing to him. So I told him I would miss him but I wished him the best and told him how proud I am of his choice.
If he had stayed, he wouldn’t be happy. I realized that. If you continuously let others make choices about your life, then someday you will wake up and be absolutely miserable. You will wonder what happened to your life and where it got off track. You will hate yourself for not following your dreams and you will resent the people who you let hold you back. That’s not a life to live.
Like the old Katy Perry song, Who am I living for, I ask myself that question. Who am I living for? Am I living for my parents, my coaches, or my friends? Am I mostly doing what they want me to do? Am I happy? The answer is, I was living for parents, friends, and coaches. I’m not happy. That stops now. I am going to live for myself this year. I’m going to explore every opportunity open to me and not let anyone hold me back. This is my year bitches.