“And life is never easy as we as children read in the books, where fairy dust could just fly you so far away…”

This week has been full of learning things.

Here’s what I’ve learned about being an adult:

1. A lesson in practicality : If you buy smaller quantities of better things, you probably won’t spend much more money, but you’ll get much greater value. (This is also shameless self-enabling to rationalize future trips to L’Occitane)

2. A lesson in relationships: Things can sometimes become toxic- people, places, and all variety of nouns can be included. Sometimes you develop allergies to your favorite foods. Sometimes your favorite boots decide to give you blisters. And sometimes people you count on disappoint you. Thing is, it’s not so much that these things happen, as how you deal with them. You could keep eating the food in hopes that some day it’ll stop giving you hives, but that’s an awful big risk to take.

3. A lesson in personal philosophy: Sometimes you can borrow that feeling of infinity. I live in constant deficit and borrow every chance I get. I turn on Spotify and lose myself for a minute in some other person’s song and I can feel just a little closer to infinite. But it’s kind of a disappointing way to live, because inevitably the song ends and the feeling dissipates with it. I think the hard thing to do is to choose to sing your own song. (Apply this logic how you will, music is the best way it makes sense to me.)

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Thank God even crazy dreams come true…

Dear approximately five awesome people that will read this,

I’m going to tell you something first. (Well, second technically, my wife sort of has to be first.)

I was wrong.

I made the wrong choice.

I don’t want to be a lawyer. Never did really.

What I wanted was to know that I COULD be a lawyer if I so chose. I wanted to know I was capable. I wanted someone to confirm that I was smart.

Insecure much?

I think I almost even managed to convince myself that I could live with this decision.

I can’t.

Moment of truth: Realizing I have never made the statement, “I want to be a lawyer.”

And I won’t. Because I don’t.

I wanted to do something. I felt like I’d wasted a lot of time and I needed to make a decision. I batted around lots of ideas, including public interest law. And then someone told me they didn’t think I could get into law school.

Pretty much sealed the deal.

I got in.

Woohoo.

I almost wish they’d been right. Because then I could have kept being Cinderella at the ball, making the decision not to decide. If I wasn’t smart enough to get in, clearly I wasn’t supposed to do it.

Flawed logic.

Because it failed to consider what would happen if I WAS smart enough. Oops.

I also realized that it was easy to share my law school journey with everyone I crossed paths with. It was easy because I didn’t care. If I hadn’t got in, I’d have eaten a little crow and moved on with my life. Never would have thought twice about it. So I could share the anticipation and the test anxiety and the build-up and the results. Because I didn’t care.

Self realization: I play my cards real close to my chest if I care about the outcome. I don’t share the things that matter. I don’t tell people the things that I really want. Because if I do and they don’t work then I am left facing the world with nothing to show for anything. My failure becomes public. And I am way too big of a coward to face that.

But maybe I can fix that.

I am taking steps to remedy this colossal life mistake. And I am going to tell the world about them. And I am going to tell them that I desperately want things to work out. And if they do, I am going to celebrate with people who truly understand how much it meant. And if I fail, then I guess I will have to face that, too. And I am gonna hate it. Immensely.

This is out of character for me, to expose myself. You’d think blogging on the internet about the perils of being an adult was exposure,  but it doesn’t feel nearly as risky as this.

So here it is. My new plan.

1. I am applying to the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I am going to apply to an MA program that will allow me to combine my interests and talents into a cohesive program of study. I want to study advocacy and education through the performing arts, with special emphasis on education and enrichment for people from their late teens to their early thirties because I think that demographic gets forgotten a lot outside of the collegiate environment. I want to take performance classes and women’s studies classes and classes in arts management and choreography and directing and etc etc etc. There is literally no limit on the ways you can combine your passions in this program. It is self-professed as the perfect program for the performer/scholar and that description is spot on for me. So there you go. I want this. I want desperately to get into this program. And it’s a long shot. They only admit about 15 people in the spring. But I’m hopeful that maybe I could be one of them.

2. I am going to finish this semester. Both because I have to and because failure has never been a viable option for me. But then I am done. I know it’s a great opportunity, but it’s not the right opportunity, and my accepting this scholarship takes it away from someone who really wants it. Law school is not right for me. But- this isn’t a decision I made lightly. I am relatively certain pretty much anyone in my life over the age of 50 is going to be horrifically disappointed in me. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had universal familial approval and that’s going to be a wrench to give up. It’s nice being the one everyone is proud of. But I think maybe it’ll be even nicer to be the one that I am proud of.

3. I am going to find a way to get theatre and dance back in my life somehow. I am healthier and happier when I am doing what I love.

These are the changes I am focusing on. These are the things that I need. Because regardless of how stable and lucrative a career I could have on my current path, I have to try to believe that my own mental health and happiness are worth more and that if I can take steps to do what I love, everything else will fall into place.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

“It’s much easier to not know things sometimes. Things change and friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. I wanted to laugh. Or maybe get mad. Or maybe shrug at how strange everybody was, especially me. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. You can’t just sit their and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. And we could all sit around and wonder and feel bad about each other and blame a lot of people for what they did or didn’t do or what they didn’t know. I don’t know. I guess there could always be someone to blame. It’s just different. Maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Because it’s okay to feel things. I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite.”

Contemplate that for a moment.

“I feel infinite.”

That’s how the quote ends. It’s my favorite part. But not because I feel as though it is still true. Mostly because I remember what it felt like to feel that way. Partly because I’m starting to realize that I have been in mourning for the self that felt infinite for a long time now. I started thinking about this the other day, trying to pinpoint the last time I felt that my life was full of infinite possibility. I had some moments that came pretty close when I was playing Magenta (RHPS last year). Amazing, but not quite. My last birthday in Oswego- that came pretty close. That was the kind of night where you’re happy just to be. But it wasn’t quite infinite. I thought and thought and thought about this and the last time I can remember thinking that I could do ANYTHING was May 2007. 42nd Street was opening and I was in the front line of that tap number, stage left and beaming like I was on Broadway. The curtain started rising and my feet started moving and everything was perfection. And I felt infinite.

And here we are. Six years is a long time to go without feeling that way.

I am sitting in the atrium of a law school right now. I’m on as close to a full scholarship as this university gives out. And it’s not the worst thing that has ever happened to me. The intellectual discourse can be very stimulating. But intellect notwithstanding, my visceral reaction to being here has been very poor. I can keep up with this. I find the work boring and mildly challenging, with an interesting story thrown in here and there. There’s something bolstering about knowing that academically I am just fine. But my heart hurts. This feels very much like the final step to giving up infinity and settling. It feels like I am in mourning for the person I thought I would be. And I don’t know if that’s a normal reaction. Is this just the part of being a grown-up that sucks? Is there supposed to be a point in your life when you put aside your self? I once told someone that if you’re not doing what you want to do, you should at least be doing something. And then I took my own advice.

I have never felt quite so ashamed of advice I’ve given.

I think the right thing to say would have been a lot closer to, “Well, what’s keeping you from doing what you want to do?”

And, y’know, I don’t have an answer to that.

I signed up for the LSAT on a whim. I’m the kind of nerd who likes standardized tests and was mostly just curious how I’d do. And I did relatively well. But I almost wish I’d failed. It’s one thing to have the ability to study law. It’s a whole other to have the heart for it.

I don’t really feel good about where I am right now. And while I hate trite turns of phrase, I really have “made my bed” with this and now I have to see it through at least until December.

I keep hoping something will click and all the sudden I will feel some degree of passion and enthusiasm for what I am doing. I moved my wife to a whole new state for this and we left behind a life that was just starting to get pretty good. It’d be nice to feel like it was worth it.

But it would be even nicer to feel infinite again.

 

 

All quotes courtesy of Stephen Chbosky.