Sunday, April 8, 2012

Slight Detour: Understanding your Author

So today I wrote this letter to my mother to help explain why it was that I decided to leave school at UT. Although a bit personal, I figured it might be interesting to share part of it here so that you as readers might understand a bit more about me and where I am coming from. It's been an interesting and busy few days, but I will begin posting reviews again tomorrow. Please bear with me. And enjoy!

I had the hardest time putting this into words about 6 months ago when I made the decision, but my experience since then has completely validated the choice I made. Knowing that I always have an easier time getting my thoughts on paper than out of my mouth, I made numerous attempts to write them all down and send them to you sooner, but it never felt like the right time or like I had explained things the way I wanted to. I'm sure it still won't make sense to you entirely, as it is impossible for anyone to entirely understand the personal experience of another, but I aspire to do a decent job illustrating the opportunities I've been afforded and things I've been blessed with as a result of my well-considered decision to leave school. 

Please understand that I have contemplated the consequences of my actions more times than I can count and that I am hyperaware of the things I will be missing out on without my college degree, but for me the benefits have already begun to far outweigh the consequences. Even though I am no longer in school, I feel more educated now than ever before. One of the many deciding factors for me came from my study of existentialism and my newfound awareness of my ability to create a meaningful life in a way that I never had before. At the time I'd really started to notice a disturbing loss of my sense of self, and after plenty of tedious consideration, I understood that my confusion and depression arose in part due to my method of coping with school. It is clear to me that everyone who embarks on an educational journey will handle things differently. Unfortunately my method had always been to hunker down and work, cutting all personal relationships and opportunity for self-reflection out of the equation. I remember Darien (my freshman roommate) making comments about my unwillingness to leave the room and explore the other things college had to offer besides just classes. My personality and learning style made it impossible for me to do anything but bury myself in my studies, and I completely missed out on the college experience as a result. I have always been slightly envious of Cassie and her ability to maintain friendships, participate in all sorts of different groups and activities, and still kick ass in school. She has truly mastered the art of learning through life, while still learning through school, and for this, I know she will be hugely successful.

Ultimately my decision came when I realized that I was missing out on myself and my life as a young person. I had finally found my passion in cooking, but because of school, I hadn't had the opportunity to really pursue the thing I loved most. You know I have had quite the journey, from studying international diplomacy in DC, to switching my major from journalism to biology before school even started, and then settling eventually on philosophy as an interest, but never a passion. I had found something I could tolerate enough to get a degree, but I never felt the spark of true passion that I am undoubtedly experiencing now with cooking. It has been such a joy and a huge relief to finally have a true sense of comfort in the fact that I know what I want to do with my life and have allowed myself to be completely immersed in it. In making the decision to leave school, I have afforded myself the opportunity to saturate my mind with the information I need to get where I really want to be. I have been pursuing leadership positions with Whole Foods, and I have had the time to take a second job at the food trailer, where my boss has become my mentor and has already taught me more than I could have imagined possible. I have found someone in him who has 20+ years restaurant experience and an eagerness to share his knowledge of starting a small business. I finally feel as though my dreams are within reach because I have taken the steps to make them a reality. I have had the time to do research and to experiment with cooking itself. I can't imagine a situation in which I felt more like I was on the path to success and personal happiness than I do right now. For me, this feeling is incredible, and as my parents I know it's what you ultimately want for me as well. 

On top of the sense of meaning I have found through my cooking, I have had the opportunity to improve all sorts of other aspects of my life as well. I finally feel like I have had the time to make true friends, friends that I can see being around forever. You know that in the past I haven't been the one in the family who has had friends that I've stuck with. That person has always been Cassie, and I have always been so happy for her, although slightly jealous. As I mentioned previously, I have always let my personal relationships suffer as a result of my crazy learning style that disallows me to make time for anything else. Although still extremely busy with my studies of the culinary arts, they are all self-driven, and I now have the ability to learn on my own terms, making time to educate myself in other ways. For example, I now have another female (besides Cassie) that I can call my best friend. Her name is Kriscia, and she works with me at Whole Foods. I will have to tell you all about her some time soon, but in a few words, she is one of the wisest and most compassionate people I have ever met, and she has taught me more than she will ever know. It feels wonderful to have finally found it in myself to really allow those sorts of people into my life. 

A burden has been lifted that has allowed me to open myself to all of the most beautiful things in life. I have learned so much about the people around me and their personal experiences, each of which has helped me to reflect upon my own and make the changes I want to see in myself. I have become more contemplative than ever, and the world around me has become such a glorious place as seen through my new, brighter eyes. My relationship with Luke is at a new high, as I have had the energy and good fortune to really get to know him better than I ever thought possible. That man is truly amazing and really has my best interest at heart. After two years of dating, I have finally been able to open myself to these realizations, and it is clear that each of us has benefitted as a result. We have found real companionship in each other, and damn does that feel good. 

Although seemingly less monumental, I have become so much more aware of the world at large as of late as well. I listen to NPR religiously and have become more versed than ever on current events. It feels incredible to actually know what's going on outside of myself and to have the opportunity to understand society at large. I'm hoping that this understanding will help me to make positive changes in my community in the future. 

In short, I believe the decision I made to leave school has been the best decision I could have possibly made for myself. I am in the midst of self-discovery, and I have never been more open to the things I am capable of in this life. I vowed never to find myself lazy as a result of my departure from the world of formal education, and that is a promise I have more than stuck by. I am taking advantage of the opportunities around me, and I have every intention of absolutely running with them until I just can't run anymore. 

I left out a bit of the more personal prose at the end of the letter, but I hope this has given you some perspective of the journey I'm on. 


  1. What a brave and beautiful woman with true happiness now and in her future. Much love and admiration, Mom

  2. Thanks Mom. Your support means so much to me :) I love you. You should follow me! I just followed your blog too