Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Disclaimer: This post is extremely personal and was hard for me to write.  Please do not judge me.  If you've never been depressed, you don't understand how hard it is.

Throughout my life I have always had different answers for this question. When I was in elementary school, it went from an astronaut to an archaeologist to a paleontologist (I was a geeky kid I say 'was' like I'm not geeky anymore, but I definitely still am).

I don't remember what I wanted to be when I was in middle school, but when I was in high school, I finally thought of the perfect job.  I would be a librarian.  I have loved reading ever since I was 4 years old.  Books were a higher priority than a social life ever was.  (I still don't have much of a social life.)  I could get paid for doing something I enjoyed.  Overly ambitious, I planned out a future in which I had a master's degree in library science.

My mind was made up until I went to college.  Part of it was the realization that libraries and books are becoming taken over by technology.  Part of it was the realization that I would be bored as a librarian.  So then it occurred to me.  I could do the other thing I love. Art.  In my mind this new plan manifested itself and my mind was made up that I would become a graphic designer.

The Universe had other plans.  I couldn't get into any art classes until the last quarter of my freshman year, but that was okay.  It was the one course I was required to take before I could take the entrance exam for the graphic design program.  I was really sick throughout that quarter, as I get from time to time.  I received something like a 2.6 for my grade in the class because of all the class I missed.  Fast forward to the entrance exam.  The exam consisted of three distinct projects and lasted all day.  The problem was that the exam was tailored toward people who are good at 3D design, 2/3 projects were 3D.  I am strictly a 2D designer.  And to make matters worse, one portion of one of the 3D projects involved imagining a bike rental system and sketching out plans.  I cannot draw a bike to save my life.  But I did my very best and I thought that I had nailed the other 2 projects.  One was designing a logo for Doctors without Borders and I can't remember what the other was.  I didn't get my results for 2 or 3 months after, and when I finally did, it came as a simple email telling me not much more than I didn't get in.  The odds were never in my favor.  Only 20 out of 200 people who take the exam get accepted into the 2D design program.  But I had my heart set on getting in. 

It was the first time I had ever really failed at anything.  And I hate to admit it, but I did not take it well at all.  I had been on Prozac for depression ever since my junior year of high school.  I had just reached the point where I was smiling and laughing again on a regular basis, and then the rug got pulled out from under me.  All of my plans fell apart all at once and I didn't know how to handle it.  At the same time, my mother had stopped taking her anxiety medication and everything I did rubbed her the wrong way.  I felt like I couldn't do anything right at all and I would never succeed at anything.  My mom left to get groceries for a while, and at the time the only grocery store around was a 20 minute drive away.  After she left, I got to thinking about everything.  I started overthinking and focusing on all the negative and before I knew it, I thought about how easy it would be to just go in the kitchen, grab a sharp knife from the silverware drawer, stab myself in the chest, and just end it all.  Thankfully I wasn't ready to kill myself but I went into my room and laid down on my bed and shut the door.  I didn't let myself get up off the bed, because I didn't want my mom, dad, and brother to have to deal with having me commit suicide.  My brother had moved out of the house when I started college, so I was the only one home.  I just laid down on my bed and cried my eyes out.  My cell phone rang.  Nobody ever called me.  My mom had got me the cell phone before I left for college so I could keep in touch.  I looked to see who was calling and it was my brother.  He had never called me before.  I picked it up and said hello and it was impossible to hide the fact that I was crying.  He asked me what was wrong and I told him everything, even the part about how I wanted to kill myself.  He had been depressed before so he was empathetic.  He told me everything I needed to hear and made me promise him that I wouldn't do anything stupid.  He drove to my house from Stevenson, and by the time he got there, my mom had gotten home from grocery shopping.  She found me crying on my bed and asked me what was wrong.  I told her everything and then she apologized for flying off the handle so much.  She told me she had stopped taking her medication, which I didn't know before that, and that she didn't realize she was getting angry at me so easily.  She went back on her medication, on a half dose.  My brother took me to his house and we played video games and watched scary movies.  He told me that any time mom and I were butting heads, I could call him and he would get me and we would hang out.

My mom and I started to get along much better and I stopped feeling like I was a complete failure.  My brother and I became best friends and we hung out a lot that summer.  One time, we went to Portland, Oregon and just walked around all day.  We went to Powell's Bookstore, Rocky's Pizza, and Voodoo Donuts.  It was so much fun.  He took me to see at least one movie every month.  He always picked them and I always thought they didn't sound very interesting but went anyway, and I always loved them.  My favorite was Fast and The Furious.  It wasn't the first one in the series; it was like the fourth or something.  After I went back to college, he and his girlfriend moved to an apartment in Portland, Oregon.  We didn't talk as often anymore but every once in a while, he would call me and talk for about an hour about everything going on in his life, and I would share the few things happening in mine.  This month, my best friend, my brother is graduating from Marines Boot Camp.  I couldn't be more proud of him.  He is an inspiration and I really hope that I can go home for the holidays and see him before he gets sent off for the Marines.

I don't know if I'll ever become a graphic designer, and I'm okay with that.  So now if you ask me what I want to be, I'll answer that I want to be happy and successful.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I think more people struggle with depression than we often realize. I was even diagnosed with it at one point. I remember opening up to a couple of friends about it and their reaction was "Pssh, I doubt you're really depressed - you always seem like you're in a good mood when I see you!" I remember wanting to say "That's because being depressed isn't cool and I'm a pro at hiding it, you d-bag." The point is, lots of people go through this. And I'm definitely NOT going to judge you.
    Also, I'm really glad you chose NOT to kill yourself. Though sometimes it seems otherwise, death is a really permanent thing and most situations will get better if you stick them out. And it sounds like you're doing a lot better now - yay!

    As a side note, I love voodoo donuts. Give me a Captain Crunch donut from Voodoo and I'm on a sugar high for about a week. Haha.

  2. I appreciate your positive feedback, Lauren. It's sad how many people hear someone say they're depressed and just think that it means they're feeling sorry for themselves and just need to cheer up. I'm also glad I didn't kill myself. It would have been pretty stupid and I would never have had great experiences like writing a blog and having a boyfriend.

    I love the Crusty Bastard (I think that's what it's called) from Voodoo Donuts. It's the one that's super chocolatey and gooey and delicious. I am a big fan of chocolate so it's my favorite. Next time I go, I want to try a bacon maple bar. Those always look really good. If you haven't been to Rocky's Pizza, I highly recommend it. The slices are bigger than the plates! And they have vegan options too, in case you want to take some other people from the commune along.


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