In middle school before I got ‘promoted’ to high school, I had to choose a track to follow. This was quite stressful for 13 year old Michael. I remember freaking out about it so much that it prompted Facebook posts asking about which track is best to take. No one had anything to say other than to follow my heart. These tracks did not really have any importance other than helping you pick out what classes you want to take. I remember a few of the options were college prep (more difficult classes, and isn’t that what high school is supposed to be anyways?), performance arts, material arts, health care, and foreign language.
I had spent my time in middle school in band mainly, and I tried to branch out into choir and the theatre program. I was good with music and even the other two things, but it felt like I was trying to be something that I ultimately was not. So when faced with this decision to pick out the next four years of my life at school, I wanted to follow my heart and stop feeling like I was trying to be what someone else wanted me. I thought about how many times people told me I was caring or a good listener, and I realized that maybe I would be a good nurse.
So, in high school, I followed the nursing pathway, and I even got my Certified Nursing Assistant license my senior year. I decided that this was something that I was good at, and I followed it onto college. Picking colleges was also such a mess for me. It might not have seemed that way on the outside, but I was freaking out. It was anxiety inducing knowing that wherever I decided to go would be where I spent the next four years of my life.
So, in college, I went to the most expensive place I applied with not enough scholarships and in a major that I thought was what I wanted to major in. And then it all started to crumble, and I started to have a crisis. This is when I first bleached my hair — yes it’s true about what they say about gay men and having a crisis. Bleaching one’s hair is the only viable option during that.
I realized that I wanted to change my mind.
If you couldn’t tell from those first four paragraphs, I am a planner. I have so many spreadsheets, ideas, and calendars. If I could show you all my spreadsheet with my time at school figured out with every class, I would. It is quite mind boggling when your plan crumbles. You start to question everything. I started to question everything.
My questioning went a little like this: I didn’t want to be a nurse. I wanted to go into non-profit ministry. Changed Major. No, not non-profit, I want to be a pastor. Changed major. Wait, this school is really expensive and not the best for a gay person to discern a call to ministry at. Transfer schools. Maybe I don’t want to go into ministry, scrap plans for divinity school after graduating. Reexamine other options for graduate work.
Through all of these changes, though, I started to learn more about myself than I ever thought imaginable. There is so much growth to be done in the seasons of change. It gives you a chance to really examine every aspect of your life. It allows you to maintain things that benefit you and remove the things that exhaust you. You begin to learn a new you, a you that can handle your plan being flipped on its head, a you that can do hard things.
I really started to learn more about myself. Just in last 7 months or so, I feel completely different than I did last summer. I realized that no matter what I was still loved. I would disappoint people no matter what I did or didn’t do. I would be okay no matter what.
It’s radical to know that in every situation you have a chance to change you mind. No matter what you are not locked into anything. If you feel stagnant, change. If you want it, go get it. I found that even when I felt locked into something that I could change my mind and it would still be ok. People who matter will still love me. The world will keep spinning despite how it may feel otherwise. It’s a good reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around yourself. Who am I to expect the world to crumble if I transfer schools or change majors or get a new job?
It’s a relief to know that the world is not on your shoulders nor does it revolve around you. We’re taught this as children, but we seem to forget it as we grow up. There’s so much pressure to have your life figured out early on, but that just simply isn’t the case for most of us. It’s really okay to change your mind; if not, change mine.