Stepping Off ‘The Path’

In grad school, and adulthood, there is no ‘summer vacation’. This summer I’ve been a research assistant to two professors, as well as being a ‘substitute TA’ for another professor from time to time-since hardly anyone works with the department over the summer, that means I’ve been left as essentially the office energizer bunny. But, my batteries were stomped out of me, because, that’s grad school. Everything you ever love about your area of study gets stomped out of you from the workload and expectations. How am I supposed to devote both 9 hours a week to class, 35 hours to studying,(Yes, really, grad school is a full time job in itself) and 20 hours to essentially being my professor’s personal assistants?! (64 hour work week! And I don’t even make any money off of it!)

So essentially, I’m saying Grad School-in-summer is why I haven’t posted in forever. But GUESS WHAT. I’m ALMOST DONE.

That’s right, I did my thesis proposal and I PASSED. It’s time to buckle up for the fall semester-which starts next week. (But yay, 4 days of summer!!) and get out of grad school this December! In all this joy of being so close to being done, I’ve also found that…although I’ve essentially been stuck in ‘limbo’ these past 2 years…I still have no clue what I’m going to do with my life.

That’s right. I’m lost. But, for perhaps the first time in my life, I’m okay with that.

I know when I created this blog, I had certain ‘plans’ placed out about my future (Law School). But, this summer, I went through a major existential crisis.

I know what you’re thinking. Another millennial caught up in angsty life drama. Well screw that, at least we’re trying to figure ourselves out before we mess up this planet. But it’s true, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing here. It probably goes back to me not being sure about grad school, and just signing up anyways because my school just basically offered for me to go. I just took the opportunity before me. And now, I just don’t know how to take a step forward when there’s no path laid out in front of me.

But, maybe I need that. Maybe a need to stop worrying about the path, and just go ‘off-roading’ for a moment.

This probably still doesn’t answer the question of why I decided to jump off the tracks towards law school. Well, it’s difficult to explain. First off, I started studying for the LSATs. It was all going to plan, I was doing well, progressing every week, and I felt like I could have a really good chance at having a good LSAT score to get into a great law school.

But then, I just, I felt trapped. I kept going forward with the studying, but, I just felt so incredibly anxious. I couldn’t understand where that anxiety was coming from, so I just studied harder, started doing research on what I could do with a law degree to keep my spirits up about what I could accomplish once I had my degree. But that only made my anxiety worse.

I just couldn’t understand it. I was driving myself essentially into insanity trying to figure out how to just buckle up and keep moving forward, until finally something broke in me.  I had a full on panic attack, night after night, for a couple weeks. I was a complete, mental, mess.

It wasn’t until I fell apart that finally could hear the part of me that was trying to say something this entire time.

This whole time I was having a mental breakdown, it was because my gut, my ‘heart’, was trying to tell me something that my ‘brain’ didn’t want to acknowledge. Once I had that breakdown, I suddenly heard what my intuition had been trying to scream at me all along:

This was not my path. I am not meant for this.

Once those words crossed my mind, I was suddenly calm. I was shocked, but I was finally able to take a breath. The cloud in my mind that had been suffocating me finally cleared. I didn’t even feel upset. I felt relieved. I don’t believe in Christianity, or Islam, or any monotheistic, one ‘true god’ that controls everything (because if there was, I’d have a lot of questions about suffering of children and innocents) but I do believe in the universe, and that there are things going on here that we can’t completely understand. And I think sometimes, the universe does try to get our attention through our own intuition. This was my intuition speaking, the core of my ‘soul’. I am not meant for this.

Now, there’s been many times when my intuition has screamed at me, and I’ve even felt this way before at a different stage in my life: when I moved to Canada to become a working student, in the hopes of becoming a professional trainer. I had a breakdown then as well, and a similar voice was saying: This is not my path.

There was an inner struggle going on that I wasn’t even aware of, and instead of listening to myself, and understanding what my heart and my intuition were trying to say, I ignored it. Probably, because I knew deep down what the problem was, and I didn’t want to face it. I also didn’t want to ‘give up’ on this dream of mine, because, for so long, I had this idea in my head that being a lawyer was the only way I was going to be able to do something about the causes I care about. But, that’s not true, and I should have realized that a long time ago. And, it wasn’t even the actual work of studying that was stressing me out, something different was happening. It wasn’t that I felt like I couldn’t do it…it’s that, I felt that I shouldn’t be. And I should have realized that I couldn’t ignore what my heart was trying to tell me, if what I want is to become who I’m supposed to be.

So, who am I supposed to be? That’s still not clear yet. But, I know the first place to figuring that out is looking inside myself a little more, instead of trying to create myself in something that’s just not right for me.

Although I’m stepping away form the path I intended to go, I feel like I’m headed towards something better. I’m hopeful again, I’m at peace with myself. And I’m going to take that as a sign that I’m stepping in the right direction.

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