I’ve mentioned before that I’m preparing to go off to college in a year, and because of this, happiness has been at the forefront of my thoughts as of late. The tricky thing about choosing a college is that it carries with it a multitude of implications that change your entire life’s direction. Where you go to school will dictate the people you meet, the places you go, and the things you learn- at least to a certain extent. And there’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision right off the bat, meaning everyone has a different say in what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”.
For many, the college experience means getting away from home, finding more freedom, and experimenting with a new lifestyle. College has become synonymous with greasy pizza, crowded dorm rooms, and all-nighters (both in the context of essays and partying). And for some, this sounds extremely appealing. The traditional college experience is something many teens look forward to all throughout high school, but unfortunately, none of that sounds like anything I’d be interested in.
I’m not saying that the only way to experience college is with late night parties and top ramen, but the whole idea of uprooting myself from a community I love is entirely upsetting. I’ve heard so many adults tell stories of completely changing their interests and life directions after high school- going from wannabe architect to PE teacher to AP Calculus professor- and yet, I feel so content with the path I’m currently on. That’s not to say I want to be solely a yoga teacher for the rest of my life (although I do see myself continuing to teach at least part time for the foreseeable future), but the general community, connected career paths, and lifestyle I lead today is something that resonates with me on such a deep level that the idea of disconnecting myself from my community and traveling a long distance away for college is completely uninteresting to me.
This creates quite the dilemma in my mind. On one hand, I work extremely hard in school. I’ve had straight A’s throughout my high school career, participated in a wide array of extracurriculars, and consistently chosen rigorous classes. I’ve taken my AP tests. I’ve aced my finals. I’ve done my community service. From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like I’m attempting to get into an extremely competitive school. And yet, that doesn’t sound like it would make me happy.
Sure, it would feel good to get into a competitive school. It would be very rewarding to see the fruits of my labor. But if it doesn’t make me happy, why should I completely redirect my future?
That’s not to say I’m going to stop trying in school, or that I don’t want to go to college. Being academic is a large part of who I am, and I have a passion for learning. Working hard in school has become a second nature, and I legitimately love putting effort into my grades and academics. But going to Stanford or Yale or Brown just isn’t me. And that’s okay.
I have Mondays and Tuesdays off work at Just Be. Yesterday, when a shift popped up last minute for me to take, I felt legitimate excitement to have an excuse to spend my day in the studio. Today, I assisted the 9:15 and stayed to take the 12:00 because it’s where I wanted to be. It’s as simple as that. I’m surrounded by incredibly powerful and supportive people in a space that’s welcoming and inclusive to all. I have friends in my peer group, of course, but they don’t tend to talk in terms of energy or Svadhyaya or even just asana. I’m incredibly lucky to have friends who’ve shown interest in yoga, but it’s a different kind of interaction with them. When I’m at Just Be, I’m completely in my element, surrounded by people who feel the same way.
My very first job was at Just Be, working front desk on weekends. My second job was teaching there. I couldn’t be luckier or more grateful for the path my life has taken, and I’m not ready to completely forge a new one. I may steer off the trail a bit, or find a new branch of it, but I’m not ready to head in a new direction. For now, I’m happy, and I can only see this path leading me to more happiness.
P.S. I’m starting to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve listened to her podcast Happier and enjoyed her thoughts and perspectives as she explores the things that make us happy and ways to maximize our happiness. I’ll write more as I get deeper into the book.