I still question if the amount of self-transformations and phases I have undergone is normal, but I figure at least through each one, I came out a better me. I remember one phase specifically in my life and it was in the month of November, 2012. The week before Thanksgiving Break for students to be exact. Which is actually exactly 3 years ago from now, November of 2015. I was a senior in High School and I was in an AVID class, which stands for- Academic Via Individual Determination. AVID gave me the resources, taught me the lessons, enriched me with academic experience and tools to help me become a greater student, and prepare me for college.
When I was a senior I obnoxiously believed I was going to New York University, majoring in Theater and Creative writing, and at 18 years old was going to take on the big apple and be the next “Glinda” off the Broadway production Wicked. Confidence is not even the word, I was arrogantly optimistic. I was in an abyss of illusion. I already thought that I was a star, and all I had to do was claim it for it to happen. That in itself though, was just an act. I didn’t have even the slightest desire to actually be an actress, it was just fun to talk about and imagine. In AVID class while everyone was applying to USF, FSU,UF, FIU, etc, I was paralyzed at the fingertips; I simply couldn’t get myself to apply anywhere. At the time, we had a deadline in AVID to have at least applied to 3 colleges by Thanksgiving Break; our safe choice, our first choice, and our dream choice. Inside of myself, the dreamer that once embodied my entire persona, was slowly dying away day by day.
One of the greatest influences of my life, and my greatest mentor was my AVID teacher. She knew me extremely well. For the 4 years she taught me in high school she had grown to pick up on my phases, sense my moods, and see through my masks. She knew the real me and saw the potential I always locked away inside. So when the deadline started arriving, she started to ask me questions about where I’m applying. I was lying to her just like I was lying to my peers. How could I be honest with them if I wasn’t even honest with myself? She quickly picked up on this funk I was in and started to notice how my boastful, gift of the gab attitude started to quiet down.
All of my friends had these determined and logical plans. They knew what to major in, where they wanted to go, what they wanted to be, what school was most likely going to accept them, and then there was me; undeniably lost and in denial about my future. I felt like I would have rather been dead, than alive not knowing how to use my potential. I had been bragging about my big dreams for so long that I was too ashamed to admit that they weren’t even real, they were a manifestation of my optimistic imagination. I just wanted to sound like I was going to do the unimaginable, because at that point in my life, truthfully, I couldn’t imagine a future for myself at all. I was lost and dangerously hopeless.
In a matter of 3 months I had almost 20 absences from school because I was suffering from severe depression and was in denial about my life moving forward. My AVID teacher started to notice and told me we needed to have a talk. All day long I was dreading for the final bell to ring. I didn’t want to talk about my future, I didn’t want to get upset, and I didn’t want to exist at all anymore. I wanted to evaporate from real life and permanently live in my fantasy world where I could do and be anything I want.
3 years later and I remember this day like it was yesterday. I walked in and
as soon as I sat down she asked me, “Olivia, what the hell is going on with you? Why aren’t you applying to any colleges?” I leaned back in my chair, looked down at the floor, stretched my arms out and placed them on the back of my head like a Jock. I couldn’t speak for a few moments so I looked back up to the ceiling and said “I don’t know. I just don’t know. I don’t know and I’m really scared because I just really don’t know.” I placed my arms in my lap curled up, and looked back down at the floor- tears immediately started to flood my face. I was crying so much that I could barely catch my breath. I started saying things like “I don’t deserve to go to college, I don’t know what I want to do or who I am. I’m just not ready to decide. I have no idea, and everyone is so sure. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t think I’m meant to go, and maybe because I’m just not meant for anything.”
She let me get it all out before she replied, “Olivia, you do know you are, and this is not it. You are one of the most magnetic students I’ve ever known and all of your peers look up to you. You have more potential than you know, and you need to stay passionate. You have come too far to give up now. You deserve everything you want, you deserve it and you can get it. You need to find your inner passion again, you have to stay passionate or you’re going to lose it. Stay passionate Olivia, you can do anything you want to do.” I was still crying but her words always had a way of soothing my wave-like emotions. She pulled up a word document and wrote up a contract stating that by the time I come back from Thanksgiving Break I will have applied to 3 colleges. She then printed out a list of colleges in New York with Free Waiver applications and told me to apply to at least one. I signed the contract and went home that weekend transforming again, entering a new phase of my life again, and once again, I had been transformed for the better. Her words that day rewrote my future and secretly saved my life.
I applied to my safe school, Hillsborough Community College, Univeristy of South Florida St. Pete, and St Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York. I got accepted into all three, and the New York College even offered me an $8,000 scholarship to help with tuition. I couldn’t believe it. Not only did I get accepted into all three schools, but I also had a scholarship opportunity because I was an AVID student.
2 hours before the deadline for the scholarship submission, I forced myself to apply and submitted it with the mindset of “thank God I got that over with.” I had only 10 minutes to spare before it closed completely. The scholarship was specifically for AVID students and only 1 to 2 recipients would be chosen per high school. All we had to do was write an essay about how we would change the world if we could, and why we would change it in that way.
I was in a raw and emotional place in my life, so I wrote exactly what I would change, and I wrote it from my heart. (like always) One day I will publish that essay, but after submitting it, I thought nothing about it. I was NOT the smartest person in the AVID program, nor was I the one most deserving of financial help. At that point of my life I was extremely terrified of who I could become. I was insecure and in a mental space of indecisive fog.
To get to the point, life blessed me again, and of course I just had to be the winner of the scholarship. After that, I really had no more excuses left to not invest in myself and go to college. There were too many signs pointing towards pursuing my passions than there were to give up now.
No matter how much I fought against my potential, life kept sending me blessings. The more I distanced myself away from success and my future, the more doors randomly started to open, welcoming me to advance towards opportunity. The scholarship was for $20,000. Someone thought I was worth $20,000. I really couldn’t believe it.
Everyone for the rest of the year talked to me about my “New York dreams” and how they were finally in reach now. I had support, I had blessings, I had the opportunities, but something inside of me told me that I just never was, never would be, and never was going to be the Rabbit. Let me explain- I was never the type to jump and take action. I was always the brainstorm type. I was the Turtle. Slow and steady. Highly curious, but persistent and cautious. I didn’t want to go to New York at 18 years old, I didn’t want to be someone anyone admired. In all honesty, I just wanted to be left alone so I could find myself. I wanted solitude and silence within my own mind and from others.
A teacher of mine that year told me, “You know Olivia, one of these days you’re going to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and what they think of you. One of these days you’re going to realize that the Turtle starts off slow but the Rabbit comes in last. Don’t jump because everyone around you is hopping around. Don’t be the Rabbit when YOU can get to the same place as them at the pace of the Turtle. While they run out of breathe being the Rabbit, you will consistently prosper. The Rabbit will come in last, and you will be the one to win.”
I realized that for 18 years of my life I was trying to be the Rabbit when the entire time I was effortlessly the Turtle. A snapping Turtle, a huge Tortoise that might bite your hand off and take up your entire backyard. But if anything, I was a slow moving, deep thinking, persistent and spiritual Turtle. Not a fast moving Rabbit.
Everything I ever truly wanted, in due time I got. Always a little later than others, but I still succeeded, and usually more efficiently and creatively than those around me. I always did things my own way, at my own pace, and for 20 years its so unfortunate that I saw that as a bad thing. I saw that as being inadequate compared to others. I saw this as a disadvantage, a disease of self-esteem and courage. By trying to compete with others passions and comparing my journey to theirs, I lost sight of my own dreams, my own path, and most importantly, my own sense of self and purpose.
When you start letting others influence your path, you become directionless. While many of my peers went straight to University’s and moved away, I ended up going to the community college right by my house. I can’t lie, this hurt my tenacious and boastful ego. It was 2 years of painful soul searching. By choosing community college, I did the Turtle thing to do. Yes, I did miss out on the 18 year old freshmen college experience. I missed out on being young and living in the Dorms with roommates, and moving away from home. I missed out on the first 2 years of being at a University, and yes, I will never get that chance back. I have cried oceans worth of tears to my family because of that missed opportunity. But in retrospect, when I look back at it all now, I don’t regret a single thing. Not one single thing.
What I gained in the past 2 years outweighs what I missed out on. For 2 years I got the blessing of being positioned in a place of stagnation- and you know what happens when you’re forced to be stagnant? You are forced to think.
So that’s what I did. I took the time to think, to really figure things out, and to really get to know myself for who I truly am.
All of the soul searching and deep thinking overtime molded me into a very strong and more humble person than I ever was before. Now 2 years later, I have completed my Associates Degree which was fully paid for, and I didn’t have to spend a single dime but time. I have 2 years worth of experience becoming closer to my mother, closer to my city, and the best part of it all, I got closer to myself. I acquired wisdom and patience.
You see, because the Rabbit gets ahead, but the Turtle gets to sight see all of his surroundings while he’s on his course. When you slow down, you see more, you feel more, and you get to experience more.
Don’t rush. Don’t compare yourself to others. You were designed perfectly. You are a masterpiece that nobody else in this world could be.
Now that I have completed one part of my journey, I am finally onto the next chapter of my life. I’m moving to another city, starting at a University, and getting ready to move into an apartment and have roommates.
I am finally where I always wanted to be.
The time for it to happen was meant to happen now, and I have found true peace with that.
I have learned to trust that things happen exactly when they are supposed to, and how they are supposed to.
What I wanted 3 years ago, guess what? I didn’t fucking get 3 years ago.
But now, it is mine. Everything I wanted, I worked for, and inevitably it became mine.
Life got so much better for me when I accepted the fact that I was a Turtle in this world, and didn’t need to be the lying, eager, delusional Rabbit anymore- because that wasn’t me anyways.
I just needed to be myself.
At 20 years old, I can truthfully admit that I don’t give a single fuck what anybody is doing, because it never has, or never will be any of my business.
There is no need to rush or feel pressure about your life. Right now, in this very moment, this is it. You should take it all in, and you should embrace it wholeheartedly. You should love every single part of your life because what it is today, and tomorrow, and even the most boring days of your life, will contribute to the future you and future life that you are dying to live. Don’t be so focused on your ideal self and ideal future that you take for granted the blessings in your life today, or you forget all of the amazing qualities that you already possess right now.
Really, there is no right or wrong way to do things. There is no “right” path in life, and there are no “wrong” decisions.
All there is, is what you decide- and what you decide, is what is.
I finally understand how important time is, and not because we should use up every second of it- but because we should slow down, and appreciate every single moment that passes us. When we compare our paths and dreams to someone else’s, we diminish ours and undervalue it totally.
So here is my message:
Don’t EVER compare your journey to anyone else’s. Don’t ever feel like you have to compete with anyone or their lifestyle. You’re the only one with your destiny, and you are not in control of when exactly it will manifest.
Anything can happen.
You MUST be patient with your self-growth and your self-path journey. It’s not about how fast you get there, it’s about the process, and the final destination. You have to become the person you aspire to be before you actually are that person. You are not the future 30 year old C.E.O millionaire at 18 years old.
You have to go through some shit first, learn some things, fail at some things, feel some pain, love some things and then lose those things.
You have more work to do.
You have more of you that needs to be found.
Every single day, you are still growing.
I once met a man and he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I shyly told him that I wanted to be a writer. He smiled big, nodded his head at me with excitement, and said to me, “Well, the book is already inside of you, God already gave you the pen.” That one sentence has replayed in my head over and over again so many times throughout my life.
So please remember:
Your potential, your talents, and all of your greatest qualities are already harnessed right inside of you. You are your greatest gift to the world.
You can be the Rabbit, you can be the Turtle; you can jump on whatever route you want, and move at any pace. The choice is yours.
The point is, do it for you, and fuck what everyone else is doing or thinking.
Your life is moving at the perfect pace, whether you believe it or not. In due time- you will achieve whatever it is that your heart desires. All that you want to be, and everything that you want to do, is already inside of you.
Trust in your journey, follow your intuition and say fuck it to everything else.
You really are your greatest gift to the world.
With Lots and Lots of Love,