About 12 years ago, it seemed that my life had reached a dead end: I was both mentally and physically in such a crap state that I had to quit my studies, I was surrounded by Other People’s Drama (and a bit of my own), I was broke, unemployed, had zero prospects and no sleep. I felt completely stuck in all areas of my life and desperately needed help getting unstuck.
I was fortunate enough to find a fantastic therapist, who said a lot of helpful things, but the concept that made the biggest impact was that sometimes, things are not what they are, but what they stand for. And that as soon as you find out what it is they stand for, you can let go and find whatever it is you need elsewhere.
Around the same time, while surfing the internet(s) during one of my many sleepless nights, I stumbled upon the blog of a woman who was around my age. She wrote about her life, her dreams, and how she was working towards getting into some school somewhere. I wondered what could be so special about a school that would make a person do a double major while also working two jobs. Here in the Netherlands, especially in the Humanities, you usually just apply to the program you want to get into, little to no hoop jumping required.
Curious as I am, I looked it up. The more I read about the place, the more I understood why it was so important to her. It was beautiful. The buildings. The weather. And on top of that, it was a highly esteemed university. Strangely enough, it reminded me of my first high school. How, when I visited, I KNEW that I wanted to go there. I felt welcomed, it was a place I desperately wanted to belong to. This university gave off the same vibe.
For a second, I thought about how my life might have been different, if I’d gone to a university like that instead of the place I actually went to. I put going to that university on my list of wonderful, unattainable things, next to “win a Nobel prize” (highly unlikely) and “pet a unicorn” (mythical magical being not often seen in modern times).
Fast forward to last September. During one of my – fortunately less frequent – sleepless nights, I got lost on my university’s website while trying to find a teacher’s email address. I didn’t find it, but I did find something else. Something I spent the next few months thinking about, crying over, being terrified of. Because sometimes, things are not what they are, but what they stand for.
At some point I decided. Because sometimes things really are what they are. So this summer, I’m going to Berkeley.