Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catching Up with Myself

"So, it's come at last. At last it's come, the day I knew would come at last has come, at last." (From Bye Bye Birdie)

I'm almost 21 years old. I remember thinking to myself, in middle school and high school, about how my life would be when I was in college. I always had this "grown-up" version of myself, to which I would compare my then-current life. I would always compare myself to this grown-up Zach. 

I figured, gee, I have quite a few years until I actually become that older version of myself. I have time to get everything figured out and put in place. I have time. 

But I suddenly realized this summer that I am going to be a junior in college! I only have 2 years left, and then I'm done! . . . How did that happen?

It dawned on me that the Zach I am today is that same Zach to which I would compare myself. The same Zach I pictured myself being. 

No, I never put a specific timeframe on that future Zach. But realistically, that's who I am today. I always pictured myself as an upperclassman in college, with a plan, and a purpose. 

Did I meet my expectations? 

Let's see........

I went into college unsure of a major. Well, I've got that figured out. I'm a theatre major, and I love every minute of it. Theatre has always been a large part of my life, and it's something I love doing and see myself doing for the rest of my life. I'm not sure what capacity theatre will play in my life, but it will most definitely play a role. 

I never had a "regular" job in high school, but I figured by late college I would have some sort of work experience on my resume. I worked at a photo studio for a family friend from late middle school until the summer after I graduated high school. I had a lot of freedom, since I was really the only employee at the studio. But with that freedom I had the opportunity to explore my interests in media and web design, and helped the studio make the transition from film into the world of digital photography. 

But once I went off to college, I didn't have a lot of work experience on my belt other than working at the photo studio. Luckily, I had the opportunity to combine my love of Walt Disney World with a chance at adding relevant work experience to my resume! 

The Disney College Program was where I did a lot of growing, exploring, reflection, self-discovery, and changing. No, I am not a different person coming back from my 8 months in Florida. But looking back on my time there, I don't think I have ever felt more sure about anything in my life. I was optimistic about the future, content with my place in the world, and truly happy. I found a wonderful group of friends, and learned a lot about the world from meeting such a diverse group of people. I did a lot of growing up as well. 

They say when you're in Disney World, you're a kid again. That is definitely true. But on the same note, I really grew up working at Disney World. Sure, Disney isn't the "real world." Yet for me, it was very much the "real world." I woke up each day, went to work for 8 hours, went shopping for myself, and made food for myself. I went to class, learned as much as I could, and even did some job shadowing. I tried to make the most of the opportunities that were in front of me. 

I had a lot of "firsts" in Florida. And from these "firsts" came seconds and thirds, from which I learned a lot about myself. I learned what I liked, what I didn't like. What worked, what didn't. I was able to reflect  on the past, but prepare myself for the future. 

One of my most rewarding yet difficult experiences while in Florida was coming out to my family. I was already out with all of my close friends, and started my life in Florida with a blank slate since I didn't know anybody. Since I didn't know anybody, it didn't matter. I wasn't "coming out" to them, I was just myself.

That "blank slate" perspective was really encouraging. It's so refreshing to just have a fresh start. It's not starting over, it's just a different chapter in the same book. It's taking everything you know about yourself and applying it in a new way, trying new things. Trying not to make the same mistakes, knowing that you'll make new mistakes. Trying to take what you learned from your past mistakes and applying them to make corrections. 

Coming home from Florida, I felt like I was taking a step back. I felt like I was abandoning this great new life I had created for myself. It didn't feel good driving away from that. But once I sat down and thought about it, I realized that I would always have a life in Florida. Disney will always be there, waiting for me. I wasn't throwing it away, I was just stepping aside to finish what I had started in Michigan, so I could return to Florida an even smarter, more prepared individual. 

I know that one day I will return to Florida to start from where I left off. I know the friends and connections I made will always be there for me, even if it means putting that on pause for a few years while I finish school.

So..... getting back to my question. 

How did I do?

Well, taking it all into consideration, I think I did pretty well. 

I now have a resume full of relevant job experience, both at Walt Disney World and in the world of theatre in Michigan. I experienced happiness, sadness, stress, success, and failure in those 8 months in Florida. I reestablished certain priorities in my life. I developed life-long connections with a few people that I know have changed my life for the better. 

So am I really all that different? Or am I just the same old Zach I was in high school, but just with a few more hairs on my chin and a few more entries on my resume?

Well, I think the lyrics to one of my favorite songs can sum it all up, where the title of this blog comes from:

Everything's changed. 
And nothing's changed.
I mean I'm different, but I'm still the same.
I still complain.
But I'm not the same that I was,
Except I'm the same that I was,
but different.
At least I hope I'm different.                                                                             
  -From A New Brain, a musical


Post a Comment