You often hear people saying, “if I knew then what I know now.” Of course, the thing is, that the people who are saying this are often elderly people reflecting back on their lives. They are looking at all the could haves, would haves, should haves. The only thing is, you didn’t. And that is where the problem lies.
Often times, I spend my time focussing on the negative energy, neglecting my own happiness, being envious of others, and questioning all the decisions I have ever made in my life. Simultaneously, I wonder if there is a parallel universe out there, were perhaps my doppelgänger managed to make all the right choices. Then again, if we did everything correctly, life would not be a long endless process or learning lesson. There would be no need for us to be here, because we have already mastered it all.
Well, below you will find a list of all the things I would have done differently if only I had known.
1. I would have devoted ever fiber of my being to dance training. I would have given up my life to become the best dancer I would be. I would not let instructors like Ms. Fritz or Ms. Brooker dare tell me otherwise. I might not have the ideal body to have been a ballerina, but I am black and robust. And I’m proud of that. I also trained in jazz, hip-hop, character, pointe and contemporary. I was a member of my high school dance team, the Hall High Jazz Dancers. I was a good dancer. Good, but not great. I struggled during auditions, trying to pick up the dance routine. No matter how good I was, if I could not pick up the sequences, I would not be getting far. I would work on my flat feet, my posture, my strength. My ankles would have been stronger and I would have passed level C the first time around.
2. I would never have quit figure-skating. Figure-skating was the only thing that ever came naturally to me. I quickly picked up the toe-loops and loop jumps and spins. I loved feeling the breeze as I spun around the rink. Well, you know how they say those that can’t do teach–that’s me. I quit figure-skating after two years to focus on dance. And who knows? Given the time, I could have been the Grace Kelly or Gabby Douglas of figure-skating. We need more minority ice-skaters. Surya Bonaly simply won’t cut it anymore.
3. I would have worked much harder in school (not that I was not a hard worker, I just could have worked harder). I would have tried to get straight A’s in every class, elementary school through high school (maybe then I would have gotten a scholarship to college and not be in debt now).
4. I would (now read carefully) I would absolutely not have majored in Communication Studies at Emerson College. Not that I did not love my time there, but, rather, I can’t find a job. While Emerson is a good college for what they teach, there are some areas that need work. Let’s start with their study abroad program. Technically, you can only go to these places through the school: The Netherlands, Taiwan, DC, and Los Angeles). Also, Emerson’s career center does not really help place students in good internships or find a job after graduation.
5. If I knew the economy would go south, I would have taken a year off before college–or maybe two years. In the UK, gap years are popular; whereas in the US, they are frowned upon. But I think that graduating high school at age 17/18? Well, that is too young an age to determine what you want to do with the rest of your life. I have a friend who is 24 years old and still does not have a clue what she wants to do with her life. A gap year may help make that decision easier. I would have applied to programs such as city year, the Peace Corps, World Teach and Teach for America. An organization like that might look good on my resume. I support organizations like those that seek to help those less priveliged.
6. I would have comitted myself to learning spanish fluently and maybe a few other languages (Italian and French, Sweedish and German). I guess it’s never too late to do that. I’ll start this weekend, or maybe on Monday, May 20. The thing is that when we say later or tomorrow, later and tomorrow never come. They ae the kind of words that seem so close and yet so far away. (Seriously, what do I have to do to land a job these days? Speak 10 languages?)
7. I would have listened to my mother and taken more courses in college; perhaps not been so adamant to a specific major. Perhaps Business? But I will tell you anything involving math or science+me would be a gauranteed failure.
8. I would have been more involved in extracurricular activities on campus–written for the magazine, or the newspaper, or anything else geared towards my future goals. Perhaps I could have started my own food column or cooking show on campus or cooking radio show. So, why didn’t I then?
9. I would have volunteered more. Much more. (I guess it will never be too late for that).
10. I would stop wanting what other people have; the jobs, the better life. I would stop wanting their life and I would stop being ashamed of mine (but that’s easier said than done). What am I supposed to say at reunions and alumni weekends? I would stop feeling like a failure.
Now to get away from this somber mood; I have tons to be greatful for. I had the opportunity to spend a quarter of my life dancing. I was able to learn to figure-skate, write, act, do karate and play the clarinet. I have interned at MetLife, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and CT Public Broadcasting. Right now I work as a temp for the CT General Assembly. I have loved and lost. I know how to cook. I have traveled frequently. A list of all the places I have been is below:
1. Montreal, Canada
2. Freeport, Grand Bahamas,
3. Paris, France
4. London/Bath/Stonehenge, England
5. Madrid & Catalan, Spain
6. Kingston/Westmoreland, Jamaica
7. Miami, Orlando & Everglades, Florida
8. New York, NY
9. New Jersey
10. Boston & Salem, MA
11. Providence, RI
12. Santa Fe, New Mexico
13. Chicago, IL
14. Atlanta, GA
15. Baltimore, MD
And yet, I am sure I still missed a few places; and there are still many more states that I have yet to see. I should feel lucky and blessed, not cursed and distressed.