Less than two weeks until I move in with the sisters. I am getting more nervous than anticipated. I’ve dreamed about taking time away from the daily grind to focus on writing, reading, and spirituality ever since reading Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk years ago. I never thought I could actually do it. That’s one of the best things college did for me–it taught me to dream big. Before, I lacked the confidence to pursue my real dreams.
I had faith in myself when it came to achieving “conventional” dreams. For example, intending on studying Physical Therapy, I job-shadowed in high school, got a scholarship to pursue it, survived the advanced Freshman Bio meant to weed out people like me who didn’t really want to be there. I know I could have survived following that path, but there were just too many supportive people and educators who kept nudging me toward my real passion: writing.
I’m the kid who despite excelling in school, shocked everyone after failing standardized writing tests repeatedly in High School. Grammar and sentence structure challenged me, because I didn’t think in ordinary, straight forward sentences. My failure to grasp academic writing in high school made the idea of studying writing in college laughable. It actually convinced me to hate writing for a while. Even in early college, I couldn’t dream of taking time off school and work to try to write a book of any kind, let alone a book about my personal experiences with mental health and spirituality–two subjects that embarrassed me and/or angered me to talk about.
I started the first chapter of the manuscript I’m working on in a creative non-fiction class directly following my hospitalizations due to depression in 2009. It stayed untouched for a while after that, but thanks to a wonderful independent study opportunity during my last semester at college, I am three chapters (about 80 pages) into my memoir about struggling with both spirituality and depression. I have a long way to go and am scared and overwhelmed about what is yet to come. I am grateful to say that if I do fail to finish this book, I’m still proud of the fact that I’m giving it my all. For the first time in my life, I’m diving in full force with no safety net. I have no back-up plan. I put off graduate school until next Fall. I don’t have a year-round job. Luckily, the nuns are so gracious, and made it clear I am not trapped with them. I suppose if things don’t work out, I move in with friends or family until I get a lousy job that will get me through until graduate school starts. The only thing I really have to be afraid of is the fact that it’s going to be just me facing myself, the idea of faith, and truth. Luckily, the nuns have been nothing but supportive of my dream, and I trust they will teach me a great deal in my time with them.