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When I Grow Up…

Being an adult is hard. And I think I’m barely scratching the surface. When I was little and adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had at least 3 or 4 answers: a teacher, a writer, a princess, an actress. My dream professions ranged from the practical to the ludicrous, but I never lacked an answer. Enter college and an undeclared major and all signs of that ambitious little girl went out the window. All of a sudden, I got to Montclair State where an admissions official said the best thing for me would be to delay declaring a major and I no longer had an idea for the future.

It may have started a few years before that fateful visit to MSU. Problems with my family changed my attitude toward school during my sophomore year of high school. Financial issues had an even bigger effect. My self-esteem took a nosedive as did my assurance of a 4 year school, in my mind anyway. I started skipping school, homework assignments. The eighth grader who would cry if she forgot her homework became the pre-calc drop out, the former class vice-president turned into a flippant senior who came close to not graduating thanks to a scary amount of absences. I just stopped caring. Or rather, I pretended to not care. Deep down that little girl with the over achiever set of dreams was lit on fire at the injustice taking place. I just didn’t think I’d make it to college. Not because I wasn’t smart enough (I’d been an honor roll student my whole life) or because my test scores weren’t high enough (1220 out of 1600 thank you very much SAT’s). I honestly believed that because of monetary constraints, I wouldn’t be able to go to college. My whole mind shut down once it grabbed a hold of that thought. I still applied to schools, but only a couple and without much thought behind them: Coastal Carolina University (thought I can’t ever remember wanting to travel south), Northeastern University (because it was in Boston) and UMass Amherst (possibly because it was near Boston?). I didn’t apply to Penn State, my favorite school, the school I wouldn’t shut up about earlier. I didn’t apply to any of the schools my cheerleading coach suggested, most likely out of fear of rejection again. If I wasn’t good enough? If I couldn’t hack it on the hard floor as opposed to an All-star spring floor? Why this mind set even as my team, the team I co-captained, went on to place 2nd in our division at Worlds, I’ll never know.

It’s funny how dreams change, where you end up in life, especially as opposed to those 4 year old aspirations. Now my dreams include finishing school, anywhere. They center around my family and my home, the ones I’m currently building on my own. Pride can come from the smallest places and right now, I’m beyond proud of the fact that I’ve worked out every day except 1 in almost 3 weeks, that my house is clean, that I’ve stuck to my self-made schedule, that I haven’t spent a dime this month that wasn’t out of necessity. All of these things are pretty astonishing to someone who can count on their fingers the number of weeks she worked out last year, who puts off cleaning the bathroom and laundry when she’s tired, who used to blow her paycheck on designer sunglasses and Ugg boots leaving no money left even for gas. Just like Jersey’s Australian boyfriend in Coyote Ugly, obviously a classic, I’m proud of myself just for taking care of myself, as elementary as that sounds. “‘Cause I’m here and I’m livin’ on my two feet like I wanted to. That was my dream,” said Mr. O’Donnell,

So when I grow up I want to take care of my family, to be a good wife and a great mother (one day!). I want to be educated, whether by a university or myself doesn’t really matter (although a degree WOULD be nice). And I want to be happy. Because isn’t that what it’s all about?

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