I can’t say for certain what I’m glad I have done, but there are a few things, whether I struggled through it or not, that I chose to do for myself that have had an impact on my life in one way or another. And I don’t mean the things I grew up with or was given (although they play a huge part in who I am today). I mean the decisions I’ve made because I had the choice to do so. And seriously, if you don’t know me, I almost never take the practical route. I think it drives my family nuts.
I think a lot of times we feel like we don’t have the money, time, or resources to make a choice at all. Or maybe it’s the pressure from your friends and family that have you tied in a knot. It’s tough, I know, but remember that you always have a choice. And I mean this in the smallest sense to the largest.
You have the choice to go to work in the morning. You might get fired if you don’t go, but you get to choose. You also might go against your family’s wishes and move away when you come of age. That can be scary, and it may feel like you don’t get to choose what you can do. You always—let me repeat this—ALWAYS have a choice. It may come with consequences (I never said it wouldn’t), but there can also be major reward. Remember that.
So before you start wondering why I’m telling you to get fired (for the love of god, I’m not), these are some decisions I’ve made in my life that I can thank myself for making, and a little of what they have given me. These aren’t things I was told to do by anyone else, and none of them came without a heavy consequence.
This may come as a given, but my will to leave the state of Alaska was so strong I graduated high school a year and a half early. I despised high school with a passion (for another time). Alaska had treated me well for some time, but leaving it all behind opened so many doors it was almost overwhelming. There were diverse people to meet (not to mention, new people), courses I never would have been able to take, access to great food, and most importantly, an array of options that I could choose from for my future. I never would have come to realize what I really wanted to do without being removed from the influence of the people I grew up with. Which leads me to my next decision…
Taking a Gap Year
Oh. My. Goodness. When I found out I was going to take a year off from school I panicked hard-core. My mother can back this because I called her in tears in fear that my life would end. But boy oh boy was it worth it. I was convinced this was okay because I was supposed to be in my senior year of high school, but I think it should be okay regardless. (If you’re not from the states, taking a gap year is not a normal thing and not encouraged).
I spent my year off in Seattle, struggling with other things at the time, but in the process of applying to over 50 universities, attending interviews, and just drinking tons of coffee, I came to the realization that I wanted to pursue film. I think it’s important to get a glimpse of living in the ‘real world’; I gained a ton of perspective doing so.
Taking the Creative Route
During my gap year, my lingering desire to create films had finally risen to the surface and I came out about it to my mom. Honestly, it felt like I was ‘coming out of the closet’ I was so afraid. My whole life was geared towards a career in engineering and this was a complete 360. I wouldn’t have realized this without a gap year though, which is why I think it’s so important for us to have time by our self. I also became aware that you could write for a living. Like that could be your job (who knew?!). My family wasn’t, and still isn’t totally psyched about the whole life decision, but it feels so good to be pursuing something I love. Even if I’ve already been deemed a failure by others in my life.
Living Outside of the United States
I’ve now lived in Norway, and for the past year, London. First, let me tell you, that even though the idea sounds cool, it was and continues to be a struggle. I constantly feel like an outsider, it’s expensive, I have to go to extra lengths just to seek and acquire things that wouldn’t be difficult in my own country, like a bank account or getting health care. But during the tough times of it all, I have grown to very recently realize how lucky I was to grow up in such an amazing country.
Whenever someone asked me what was, I would say, “half Thai, half Norwegian.” Now I say, “American.” And I never was able to say that before, because I never even thought about it. I have also become familiar with people that lead very different lives and yet, we’re all still the same (besides the fact that I have an American accent). So yes, after 20 years of wishing I lived somewhere else in the world, I miss home.
Starting This Blog
Blogging is something I’ve tried, thought about endlessly, and never successfully committed to. It’s hard. But in many ways, it’s enhanced my life. For one, I feel like I’m a part of the world again. After spending weeks on end talking to nobody except for the characters in my book (aka myself), I needed some adjusting. Also, it makes me more aware of everything.
Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, I don’t know. I’m constantly thinking about the way I see things and how I’m living my life. I think about my health, my life decisions, even what I’m eating (is that weird?) I think part of me is thinking could I write about this? and the answer is always yes. In making my life less private than it used to be has had a positive effect because I get to choose what I share, and it fills the voids in my life I call boredom.
To add a bit of reality to anything I’ve just said, my decisions have made a major dent in my bank account and pulled me away from the people I love and miss dearly. It’s also created tension amongst those people, and I’ve left everything I had behind. It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, nor is it something I encourage others to do in their lives, because everyone is different. But I promised I would be honest here, and honestly, I don’t regret any of it.
What is the best decision you’ve made?