Friday, October 7, 2011

Wandering, Sunday drives, and brain vomit

"Not all who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien

I spent last Sunday listening to General Conference with some of my family. Afterwards I took the advice of a good friend and went for a drive through the Alpine Loop. It was absolutely stunning to be surrounded by all the colors of fall. Something special about driving by yourself when your mind is full of a mess of thoughts is that they slowly seep out and fill the space around you.

You can take them back one by one, process them each from every angle imaginable, and then file them away neatly in your head. So I drove around each bend and let my eyes linger on the yellows, reds, and oranges that make autumn so appealing, and my brain got busy. The only problem is that I never got to the "file them away neatly" part.

I don't think I have words to best describe my feelings as of late so I'm going to borrow and excerpt from the short story Eleven by Sandra Cisneros:

"...what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you don't feel eleven at all. You feel like you're still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.
Like some days you might say something stupid, and that's the part of you that's still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama's lap because you're scared, and that's the part of you that's five. And maybe one day when you're all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you're three, and that's okay. That's what I tell Mama when she's sad and needs to cry. Maybe she's feeling three.

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is.

You don't feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don't feel smart eleven, not until you're almost twelve. That's the way it is."

So I'm twenty-two, but I'm also all the ages that it took to get here. A lot of days I wake up feeling three, or seventeen, or eight; and I miss feeling smart twenty-one because I am definitely not smart twenty-two, not yet. I've never been good at being patient, and now is no exception. Especially since my life is currently in teeny, tiny, bite size pieces. In two and a half more months my time in Provo will be over. Four months after that I will graduate from BYU-Idaho.

Then what?

People like to ask me what my life plans are. It's an innocent question. Nobody knows that the second I hear it my insides all tighten up, I fight back fearful tears, and I try to quickly think of the perfect way to phrase my answer so that I sound confident in my future. I'm not.

There's really no reason to stress over it. I know that time will pass, and my future will eventually become my present. And I know that it will all be okay once it gets here. I just wish I knew what IT was.

Somedays it is taking the GRE and going directly into a graduate program (this option is slowly phasing itself out due to deadlines, but it's there). Other days it is serving an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes it is spending my summer abroad and postponing this whole decision making process just a little longer. It has been landing a job and moving away all by myself. Once I even caught myself thinking that it could be a white dress and a cute boy, then I laughed at my desperation to avoid making a decision and snapped back to reality.

This is the first time in my whole life that my next path isn't paved out for me. It's not even outlined for me. In fact, I'm sitting at the end of this proverbial road that is now branching in a million different directions (people call that exciting, I think intimidating would be a better word) and each new path has a stamp of approval. Each choice obviously comes with its own unique triumphs and struggles. Each one is "good." But which is best? Which is most Jari? Nobody can really answer that question except me, and I don't even know. I normally stick to the "follow your gut" rule, but right now my gut is only concerned with all things chocolate.

Don't worry, I'm not having a breakdown. I know that life truly is exciting. Not only that, but I am so grateful for my education, my beliefs, my supportive family, and the seemingly endless opportunities that stand before me. I am a very blessed young woman.

I'm just going through some growing pains and thought they deserved to be documented. My friend just sent me the quote "what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Maybe that's the thought I should keep in mind as I go forward.