Tag Archives: choices

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.

–Abraham Maslow

(via Things I’ve Learned from being Open)

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In our twenties we must become comfortable with uncertainty, our only constant. There is a deep rooted fear in the unknown that often translates into our need to control. Although this need to control is most often not possible in regard to love, life and tragedy, you are in charge of your own life. You are too young and scrappy and alive to stay at that job you loathe any longer, to be in a relationship that is the food equivalent in satisfaction to a soggy, cold French fry, or to try to win the affection of friends who don’t reciprocate your efforts.

The true danger in fear of uncertainty is the stagnancy that accompanies settling. In our twenties we can easily become paralyzed with indecision. Don’t wait until three years have passed in your crappy cubicle and you’re still not doing what you love, or you’re in a quasi-relationship with the pizza man and you want something more. Make a choice! There isn’t a right or wrong choice; there are unexpected outcomes and lessons either way. Today is all you have and you can make it look however you would like. Uncertainty isn’t something to fear and let hinder your ambitions, but to embrace.

–Allyson Darling, Our 20s Are Unpredictable, But In The End That’s Right, I Hope We Learn To Embrace It | Thought Catalog

I sent this email to my girl J…

…but I want to share it with the rest of you too, because this is something I’ve been wrestling hard with for the past 24ish hours:

So I’ve been thinking long and hard about this over the past 24ish hours, and this is my plan. There’s no way for me to have the total up front like I did last year (most of my savings from the summer will go to the Maya-has-to-buy-a-new-laptop fund), so I’ll have to get on the monthly payment plan. I’ve already emailed my supervisor at my library job at Lewis right now about continuing to work maybe 10 hours a week or so; haven’t heard back from her but there are lots of similar jobs I can apply for if for some reason she says no. I’m slightly worried about trying to manage a job and the rest of my life, but I should be able to use a desk job as mostly homework-doing time anyway, so it should be alright. I’m almost positive it will be alright, but if after a month or two I think this arrangement makes my life too stressful, then I reconsider and hey, I tried, and I’m only out [whatever the monthly amount is x2] and I’ve had two more months of great times with my ‘Drangler family. But I really think it will be manageable.
My mom’s going to freak out when I tell her and tell me it’s not worth it and I won’t have time and I’ll be way too stressed and lots of other things I’ve been tossing around in my head, but it’s my life. And over this past year, Quad became my life [though I want to make more of an effort to stop ignoring my pre-Quad friends and commitments this year, haha], and there’s honestly no way I can imagine choosing to walk away from it. It was only by the grace of some administrative oversight that I got to build my relationship with this club entirely on the University’s/Mellon May’s dime last year; I’m thankful for that because I don’t think I would have started it otherwise, but everything that the club has given me is certainly worth the absolutely non-crushing amount of money I’ll need to make working [the University/Mellon will still cover most of it] to stay in it. I don’t need any extra help; this plan is feasible.
Thank you so much for all of your help and whatever strings you were willing to pull, though. You made me feel all loved and valued and whatnot. Basically you’re the best, but I hope you already know that.

FCFCQQQ!

E> Maya ❤

PS: Besides, I can’t trust B**** to run study breaks or not insult everyone all the time or, you know, live a successful life without his other half! 

I will hate myself more for not trying than for “unnecessarily” spending this money now; I know I will.

There’s no compromise? my friend asks…

Not when it comes to money, there isn’t. You either spend it on something or you don’t. It goes on place or it doesn’t. 

I was talking to my mom on the phone today. Nothing special, I do this often. But as ebay reminds me that there’s little more than a month til Christmas, I asked her today what she would like for Christmas. She told me not to get her anything. RED ALERT: This is NOT how my family works. We don’t say don’t get me anything to be polite before we say what we really want. Holidays are HUGE in my family. Something is extremely amiss. So I said, what do you mean don’t get you anything? It’s Christmas, I have to get you something for Christmas. And she very kindly asked that I please don’t, because she’s not sure she’ll be able to get anyone else anything for Christmas. She said to focus on my brother and sister instead, so they can have something for Christmas.

In my Intro to Black Women’s Studies seminar tonight, we briefly discussed the not-really-contested fact that the black middle class in America may very well have disappeared by 2020. Yes, by ten years from now. A lot of my classmates were shocked. Hell, some were downright appalled! But me, I can totally believe it, because my mother basically told me today that unless a miracle happens and she hits the lottery or something, my family cannot afford to celebrate Christmas this year. 

I don’t know how or with whom to articulate this. I don’t know how to say that the family of a girl who goes to Princeton won’t even have a tree to put non-existent presents under this year. I feel like I certainly can’t talk to anyone here about this. I miss C so much. I could tell her this. She would understand, and she wouldn’t judge me, and she would hold me while I cry and be real with me about how she went through this when she was younger and it has to get better. If I’m being totally honest with you about these things, sometimes I feel like things like this, and the fact that I’ve been on food stamps, and got free lunch for the vast majority of my childhood and adolescence, and know how it feels to have the water or the cell phone cut off due to nonpayment of the bill…these are things that remind me that part of me just really doesn’t belong here.

I can’t stop asking myself How much of this is my fault? What did I do to contribute to this? I feel like the world’s most selfish, most ungrateful bitch. I’m in a fucking eating club. Unlike most people, my parents don’t contribute to my eating club membership at all; I pay for the entire thing out of the money I get from the university. But if I wasn’t in a club, if I got a meal plan in the dining hall, the extra nearly $3,000 would have gone from the university into my bank account. That’s money I could have used to help my mom. I used my Mellon Mays stipend to buy posters and accessories for my room, and new sweaters and boots, and countless other things I didn’t really need. That’s money I could have used to bring Christmas to my household, single-handedly. Would I have? is a whole different can of worms, but I COULD have. 

Should I have?  Am I justified in being disgusted with myself and my actions right now? I could have been Santa. It’s not my job, but I could have been Santa. 

BUT I ASKED HER. When I got my Mellon Mays check, I called my mom and asked if there was anything I could do to help out financially. She asked me to cover the $200ish cell phone bill for the family for the month, so our cell phones didn’t get cut off and we all lose all forms of communication with the rest of the world. I said of course, and handled the transaction right then, while we were still on the phone. She never asked for anything again. 

I’m sure it must be embarrassing for her, having to come to her daughter for help financially. But if I have more disposable income than her, I should help, right? Does that mean that if I have the potential to have even MORE disposable income, I should take the actions that bring that about, no matter what? 

But I can’t ignore that being in Quad has positively affected my overall Princeton experience SO MUCH. Real family notwithstanding, my Quad family is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of my life. They make me feel understood, and cared about, and loved on a day-to-day basis while I am here. They help keep me sane. I effectively gave up whole parts of my life for them. And part of me is SCREAMING that I am twenty goddamn years old, and bringing Christmas to my family is not my responsibility. I know that a big part of making it in the black community is giving back to the community, but I’m still an undergrad–I haven’t made it yet! It’s like…you know how when you’re on an airplane, and the flight attendants give the spheel about safety, and you’re supposed to make sure your oxygen mask is secure before you try to help other people with theirs? Does that still apply if you’re sitting in between your mother, brother, and sister?

How can I reconcile what’s best for me with what’s best for them? How can I take care of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally and not feel as though I am neglecting them? Should I take on the responsibility of helping to keep them accustomed to the hanging-on-by-a-paycheck-but-always-somehow-able-to-make-it-work life we’ve been living for 20 years? And if so, how can I do that without running myself into the ground and giving up the things that keep me going? WHO COMES FIRST AND HOW DO I JUSTIFY IT BEING ME?   

…Am I a terrible human being for even asking that? 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…

Fact: I love Robert Frost. But that’s not what this is about.

I have this friend, a very close friend, in fact, who loves to ask really deep and somewhat philosophical questions out of nowhere, and expects an instant answer. I usually just give her one of two looks: o.0 (read: wtf are you talking about?!) or -__- (read: …really?) when she does this, and wanted to do the same this last time, but I actually had an instant answer to the question. It came to my head before I could register either of the two looks, and then I couldn’t deny it. 

The question? Something along the lines of “Who do you want to see but don’t really want to see at the same time?” 

…You probably know where this is going.

Well, I saw him today. It…wasn’t a total awkward-fest, but it wasn’t totally non-awkward either. It’s like…just when I’d totally and completely gotten over what it feels like when he has me in his arms, you know? I had to invite him to dinner, because in the situation, it would have been rude not to, but part of me was slightly relieved when he said he already had plans…I’m not ready to start making a fool of myself again. 

It’s time to make a decision about this once and for all. (Can I even do that without talking to him about it? Is that fair to all the involved parties?) I have a date on Friday with someone else! If he asks me about Friday, will I tell him that? Will I sugar-coat by just saying I’m headed up to Rutgers? I don’t know if/how he’d be affected by either answer. Just because I’m going on a date (okay just because I’m going on my first date ever) doesn’t mean that the door we nudged open in May is closed on my end. I just…dammit, after all this time, I still don’t know if it’s open on his.

TURN OFF, BRAIN. STOP READING TOO MUCH INTO THINGS.

…do I ever want to have to wonder what might have been? Does he?

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

So I should try something new, right? 

But what about when the things you’re doing are conflicting? I usually punk out and don’t say the things I want to say until it’s too late, and miss whatever chance I might have had. 

So I should say something before he leaves, right?

I also almost unfailingly try to have control over every uncontrollable aspect of my life (Impossible is nothing.) and have the tendency to get angry/self-destructive when placed in unpredictable situations. I’m a control freak, and this doesn’t really work too well for my life.

So I should just go with the flow, right? That’s what people keep telling me. But going with the flow means saying nothing, which has failed me in the past. But saying something means putting pressure on a tender situation that could end before it starts. But even if I was gonna say something, this is the kind of conversation that should happen face to face, not while I’m a thousand miles away and he’s packing to go even farther. 

So what do I do when I’m trying to open myself to the idea of intimacy and the concept of commitment, but one leg wants to run while the other begs to stay, and one hand pulls the wrist of the one that’s covering my mouth, and the butterflies in my stomach flutter between fear and fantasy?

I jumped into this game without knowing the rules or the objective, and I haven’t really been keeping track but I think it’s my turn, and the clock is ticking and I have to make a move. If my only options are $10 grand or bankruptcy, do I even spin wheel? 

I have to. Right? You can’t ever learn to fly if you’re scared to take both feet off the ground. But jump before you’re ready and you’re only gonna fall.

What do I do when even the choices are driving me insane and I can’t have both? Is there a neither that’s not the same as none?