A Girl Scout Dropout… Fourteen Years Later

I write to you not from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, as you were probably expecting based on my last post, but rather, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I made the difficult decision on Friday to say “no” to a summer with YouthWorks and “yes” to myself.

After a week of training in Birmingham, Alabama, I called Southwest Airlines, changed my return flight ticket for 73 days earlier than originally scheduled, and came home.

I realized I didn’t actually want to spend my summer traveling, working long days, and meeting new people.  As exciting and rewarding these new places and relationships might be, I decided that it would also be draining for me (someone who is as introverted as they come, according to the Myers-Briggs). I realized that I am so blessed by the friendships and relationships I have in Michigan and I want to spend my summer with those people instead.

I realized that all of my stresses– obtaining my visa, not having enough time to prepare to go to Spain, limited communication, etcetera– weren’t going to change once I left training in Birmingham and got to Virginia.  (Side-note for any of my 18 followers who don’t know yet: I received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Spain and am planning to leave in early September).  I realized that Fulbright is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I need to be prepared– physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually– for this opportunity and dream of mine.

I had accepted the job with YouthWorks in February, long before I found out about Fulbright, and never looked back.  I never gave myself the opportunity to reconsider or the chance to rethink my decision.  I didn’t want to be a quitter.

I was trying to think really hard about if I’d ever “quit” anything before.  At first I couldn’t think of anything…but then I realized, I quit Girl Scouts after second grade!  The Thin Mints were stellar and the patches on my brown sash were a source of pride, but it was simply too much for me.  After a long day of school, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a circle in the art room after school, singing songs and saying the Girl Scout pledge with all the other second grade girls.  It was just too much.

I felt the same way about YouthWorks. Too much.  Maybe “quit” is a strong a word.  Someone told me that I should think of it as making a choice, and choosing to do something for myself.

So, now I’m back in Grand Rapids, with no job and no car and no plans for the next three months.  And it feels right.

“I did something that no self-respecting, over achieving, college bound, honors student would do.  I quit something…This year I have decided to quit Spanish in order to do what I really want to do, what I actually want to learn…If you are passionate about something and pursue it, that does not make you less of a student.  It makes you different, unique.  If you aren’t doing what makes you happy now, maybe you should reconsider your priorities of the moment.  I’m not saying that everyone should ‘yolo’ it up and not consider their futures at all, but it’s perfectly acceptable to make decisions that make you happy right now.” – Wise words from Lydia Angell, which appeared in The East Vision (EGR High School’s newspaper) Volume XXIV on May 23, 2013

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