Updated: Jun 23
This is the start to a series about my journey to self-discovery and faith. It is the 7 year process of writing my poetry book. It is a book to inspire hope and faith by finding reverence in all moments of light and dark. I suppose where my leap of faith and belief began was when I decided to drop out of University.
It was in December of 2012. I was attending Boise State University. I was 20 years old and a junior with about 147credits?... very close to graduating. I was the eldest grandchild who was known for overachieving so dropping out of school was a big deal at the time. The emotions surrounding this time period were as to be expected given the uncertainty: tense and conflicted.
I was also depressed, but depression is not necessarily something that people on the outside can recognize. It's more of an internal battle, and if you've read 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle, he describes it in a similar way... by reflecting on a thought he had "I hate myself but how could I hate me? How could it be separate?"
So you really wouldn't be able to see very deeply into how I was truly feeling because my ego was obsessed with how I was perceived. You just can't work against your soul forever, if you want to be happy. My ego wanted to be perceived as happy. There is a healthy way to be constant with your joy, and it doesn't need to be public... Though it was counterintuitive to me, to feel in order to be free... perhaps a concept I will touch more on later.
It was almost immediate... the feeling of peace when I decided to drop out of school. However, it was a very scary thing to do at the time especially because I felt like I was letting EVERYONE down.
There were a lot of theories to why I decided to drop out, most of them quite dark and thankfully none of them were true. I loved school. I loved classes. I loved learning. I was taking care of my health the best that I could: meditation, exercise, counseling. Though, I still wasn't able to wake up for class, and I felt so sad.
Recently, I saw a post involving 'the pillars of mental wellness' by Dr. Nicole LePera. It involves: proper sleep, gut health, purpose, silent reflection, community and connection, play and movement, discomfort and adversity, boundaries, and lifelong learning. At the time, I suppose I struggled with gut health and boundaries but DEFINITELY had no feeling of purpose.
The six months leading to my drop out, two major changes occurred in my life: I had broken up with my boyfriend of 2 years and started meditating. The breakup with my boyfriend gave me more time to myself where I started to learn more about boundaries. Meditation was something that I learned about in my business management class, but I had actually started a reflection journal my sophomore year.
It was when I started to learn more about myself by giving myself the space to BE myself that I realized, aha, I am not me. I had not been 'me' for a long time... Meaning, I wasn't making decisions from my heart. I was building a path in the direction of what others thought I ought to be. My whole identity was based off of the recommendations of others, and because what I wanted to do was so far left of what was expected of me, I was on this weird road going down the middle.
What was expected of me was a career in science, technology, engineering, or math. I enjoyed them. My gift is that I learn to enjoy all things even if I don't really like them. I spent enough of my high school career getting to know them, and I knew they were not my thing. I applied to study film at USC, but alas that was also not in my cards. The next best thing I could do was study business and foreign languages.
Involved in a Business Living Learning Community on campus, I was offered a position at the end of the year to be a 'Program Assistant'. The program itself is a community of freshmen with shared interests: ours was business. The goals of the community are to stimulate self-assurance, community engagement, intellectual curiosity, love of learning, and openness and inclusion. The position of 'Program Assistant' is a senior role where you facilitate an environment conducive to said values. We had an amazing mentor, Melissa Wintrow, who I must recognize for teaching me so much about the importance of vulnerability, empathy, and reflection. These are essential leadership skills that she helped me cultivate.
It was through all of these teachings, accountability, and great books: The Anatomy of Peace, The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People... to name a few lol... that changed the way that I thought about life.
YOLO was also a very main theme to everyday life, and you should enjoy life. That's it really... well kind of. Because once you realize that is it, you realize that purpose makes you joyful... giving something greater to the world.. So what is your purpose? I couldn't answer that then, and I was a leader. I guess if you know me, I hold myself to high standards, and I don't like giving advice that I don't follow. The more that I understood the value of life, the more my answer to students would be: follow your heart. Follow your dreams.
That was always so important to me. So important in fact, that I would put nails into my wall in the dorms, to hang the quote: 'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagine' by Henry David Thoreau. The main concern of students that I would work with (remembering that they are all freshmen) is panic over what they should major in.
Everyone in this community had in some way declared business before entering college. My advice was always to follow your dreams, and do what is right for your heart.
That's what I did. I changed my major about 7 times? I had ignored my heart for so long, that it seemed to have no direction. It was what made me drop out. I told so many to not worry and follow your dreams. I finally did the same. When I dropped out, it was Economics and Chemistry with a minor in communications... what I wanted to do, was study music so I could add to my writing, joy, and this gift I felt so very compelled in.
When I was 8 years old, I had scored in the 97th percentile for writing. My teacher even compiled some of my work and was trying to assist my mom in getting it published. Getting published is quite expensive and thus, we didn't go through with it. Writing became this thing that I did only in private.
I grew up on 5 acres of land in Filer, Idaho. We had a log wood fence that lined the perimeter of our pasture and the gravel driveway. In the summer, I would walk around our property and look up at the sky. It was magical by the creek. There were Russian olive trees that gave a private canopy feel and padded the sound from the busy highway nearby. Often, I would pet the horses and start writing little songs, though it was rare I actually wrote them down.
That part of me somewhat dwindled as time alone became more scarce, and it was odd to leave a group and go sing. Up until I turned 20, I had written a lot of partial songs or poems. But one night in the dorms of Morrison at BSU, I wrote my first completed poem/song. I understand why now: it was the first time in my life that I had some alone time. I binge-watched Dawson's Creek, ate lettuce and salsa, and wrote.
The song was called, 'Waves of Life.' It is included in my poetry book 'i LOVE what i've forgotten', which you can find more information on here. The song was partially inspired by the breakup with my college boyfriend--I think. That's what it seemed like when it started, but as it took form, it was clearly a song about a fantasy I suppose. All of these poems seem to appear from space, and that's how I write... so it's all up to contemplation what I was actually thinking because my ex will tell you that I would not speak to him for A LONG time as I could see how he was affected, and I didn't have feelings for him anymore... well I just didn't know how to feel.
Interestingly enough, my friend Ellie wrote some guitar to the song, and we sang and recorded it together. She happens to be the person who is illustrating my book! I searched and found the recording, and just as something fun, I thought I would share the poem as it appears in the book now with the song we made then:
This was not something I shared with many people. It was the first time I had ever recorded myself singing, and I felt to be justified in wanting to sing that I needed to sound perfect. Though, I felt so much joy and peace from the whole process that it felt like this is all I want to be doing with my life... perhaps my purpose somehow. I was still operating in this belief system that I needed to have a degree to be of any worth in the world, and I applied to transfer to Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.
My parents were baffled. They didn't actually pay for any of my schooling at Boise State University, but they did help my move and were supportive in that way. However, they were not supportive in any way to transferring to Lee University, and I was so confused by what the right decision was that I simply decided to drop out.
That was that. I dropped out. I had no clue of what would happen next, but I knew that I would not be living at home. Stay tuned to hear about where I did end up living... the basement of a frat house.
Here is a picture of Ellie and I around that time... capturing how I think we both felt in school lol: