I’ve been the “smart one” since the womb.
Responsible, a rule-follower, I was determined to be an academic. I helped the teacher grade quizzes in elementary school and requested special projects so I could elevate my learning (e.g. MORE homework).
I homeschooled myself in middle school (self-taught all the way) and crammed too many AP classes into my all honors high school schedule, many that I had no business taking (AP Physics? what was I thinking?).
I earned that Ivy League degree in grad school, along with a 2 hour commute to campus after working a 9 hour day. And loved every second of it!
I’m really good at being a student. The classroom is comfortable. The competition with myself to be smart is a great motivator. It’s my identity. And that ego boost when I tell people about my journey? The ego is in love.
It was only natural that I found myself back in the classroom in the summer of 2017 beginning a doctoral program. Except this time it was different. I no longer had the desire to be the smartest student in class. I didn’t have the fire to complete all the assignments weeks ahead of time. In fact, I found myself disconnected from the content and getting migraines while writing papers. The experience that was meant to catapult my career into the world of academic brilliance, was sadly, boring.
Two semesters in and thousands of dollars in student loans later I sat down to email my professors and cohort. After many conversations and a few tears of disappointment and sorrow my decision was clear. In simple words I explained, “I am a strong believer in intuition and must follow mine, even though this is a difficult decision to make. I made a promise to myself a few years ago that if something no longer brought me joy I would no longer do it.”
And I felt free.
Just because it was once part of the plan, doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to. Imagine life if you didn’t do all the things? Imagine if you let go of the expectations, from yourself, and others.