I am not a risk-taker.

Perhaps that’s an odd thing to say given I moved across the country to pursue my education. I moved again to be with my girlfriend, 500 miles from my friends and found family. I have moved a third time to be at a graduate program that challenges me.

All of my risks are calculated to death. Would it make sense financially? Are my opportunities better? Would I be happier? How will this help me in the future? Even after all of this, I still feel regret and ask myself, was it worth it?

Most the time the answer to those questions are all positive. Sometimes it still doesn’t feel that way. I’ll look back at some point and be able to joyfully say yes it was. At the moment though, that’s not the case.

I love my girlfriend, and I can’t wait to marry her someday when I’m no longer in school. We have serious conversations a lot, about our life together, about our pasts and future. We’ll shy away from these conversations at first, all couples do. But at some point, she breaks the ice of the subject and we lay out our feelings about that topic.

She pointed out that I am not a risk-taker. And I know I am not. I get wrapped up in my head, I think more than I actually do. So I get stuck.

This all stems from my risk calculation, particularly when it comes to finances.

I’ve only had one job that made me feel financially stable. I haven’t been able to get back to that point since I left for undergrad. I’ve moved from one low-paying job after another, never feeling enough financial stability to feel like I could take risks. A huge part of this has to do with being independent.

I have always prided myself in being financially independent even if that means forgoing an external social life. I found it easier to give up experiences so I could have the extra money in my savings.  2019 has been the first year that I am not making money. This will be the first time since my first job at 16 that I have spent at least half the year unemployed – if not the full year.

Being unemployed blows. I am lucky I have my girlfriend who understands that finding a good job that also wants me takes time. She knows that spending so much time in our house, in a new city, was hard on me. I spent a few months of the summer working for a car auction company. I made more working retail than I did at this job, so much so I was tempted to go back to retail and deal with customers again.

With the school year started, I spend my days in my apartment doing homework, writing, watching YouTube, and playing video games. Three evenings a week I’m in class.

That is my schedule.

She said I should take risks. I am in the perfect position to do this because if things don’t work out, I have her and my parents to fall back on. And that completely shatters my independence.

I have never liked the idea of relying on other people. More often than not, I am disappointed by them. Perhaps my expectations are too high, or maybe I’m bad at choosing reliable people. But I know that my girlfriend and my parents are reliable. It comes down to being comfortable with asking for help, and feeling like I can take risks.

I want to.

But I am so afraid.

That is harder to get over than to admit. And it’s something that I’m not sure what to do about.

Thoughts on Failure

The transcript of this video is below.

Parents care a lot about grades. They want their kids to get into a good school to get a good job.

But who defines good?

It’s not a word that dictates any more about a person than the buzzwords on their resume.

My freshman year of high school I would cry over my math homework at the desk in our living room. No matter how much effort I put into studying, I never felt like I understood what I needed to do to succeed.

I never felt good about my work or the class. I asked the teacher for help, but that never felt like enough.

One day while crying over a failed test my mom asked me: “Did you try?”

I told her I asked the teacher for help after school, I did extra homework problems. Whatever the teacher recommended, I did.

She then asked, “Did you do everything you could?”

I told her yes.

She patted my back and hugged me. “Then you gave it your best. It’s okay that you’re not good at math. At least you can say you tried.”

Failure sucks. It is the worst feeling to know you didn’t succeed somewhere that you should have. But failure or the feeling of failure isn’t something to look at negatively.

If you tried and did all you could, then you didn’t fail.

You did your best.

It’s okay to not be good at something.

So it goes.

The transcript of this video is below.

As a freshman, my friend Jess told me that the next four years would fly by. Time is a goon.

It’s the weekend before finals, and as I and my peers write term papers and rehearse presentations, I’m faced with bidding farewell to a place I’m privileged to call home. This bittersweet experience makes my throat get tight and my eyes well.

For the first time in four years, I’m going to pack up my room and not move across campus for the summer. I won’t walk into the Office of Residence Life for work and spend my evenings hanging out with friends on the RA staff.

College is this strange time in your life where you are figuring out who you are. A process that doesn’t stop after you put on the cap and gown.

In two weeks I’m going to cross a stage and be given a diploma. A piece of paper that represents my academic achievement. What it doesn’t show is the tears, mental breakdowns, coffee cups, laughter, late nights, and friends I gained along the way.

I grew far more at college than I ever would have anticipated. That growth changed me for the better, even though at times it didn’t feel worth it.

Wherever I end up I will have these memories to look back on. They say when one door closes, another opens. But this feels like more than that. This is more than closing a chapter of my life.

So it goes.