Friday, April 12, 2013

What's next?

In one month and one semester I will be done with my college undergraduate career and I have no plan, shocked? My mother is, and family will be, and some of my friends think I'm crazy. A phone conversation with my mother yesterday prompted me to write her a lengthy email about what I want, or rather, don't know what I want to do with my life. If you're in a similar situation, you can probably relate. To anyone that interested in reading about having no clear direction after school, here ya go:

"I wanted to address the issue of "what's next?" after school, the time-tested question that every parent asks a child as they enter adulthood.

My answer to you is, "there is no plan." After nearly 5.5 years of studying, I have changed majors countless times, been really focused and motivated on school, and have also been not so focused. And now with graduation so very near, I still have no idea what I want to do, but a pretty decent idea of what I don't want to do, so there's a start.

I've been trying to step into your shoes to understand your perspective. After having a very twisted and surprising youth that lead you to rearing a child at the tender age of 19, your life became very focused and structured as you took full responsibilities for your actions and mistakes as a teen. And for that, I am eternally grateful. You have sacrificed and worked so hard to put me in this situation, and have given up so much to give me a better life, a life you didn't have growing up. I acknowledge this.

Without being condescending or over-stepping my boundaries, your perspective on life is some-what limited. This, obviously, is due to having me at such a young age. You weren't able to fully explore life and all of it's opportunities because you were shackled or rather blessed to have such an awesome child (me! lol). Work, stability, structure, planning, organization, that's what you're all about! A hard-working woman that is fiercely independent. So it's very natural for you to feel that life should be lived this way. And Orange County pushes this life-style on you as well, and after living there your whole life, of course, your perspective will be skewed to having this idea of "life."

It blows your mind every time you ask me if I have a plan, and I respond with no. I have finally come to terms with my "no" answer as being ok. Twenty-two years young, I am certainly not wise and I have SO much to learn and explore in this world, but one thing that I have learned is that I don't want to do things unless I have a passion for them. I want to wake up every day and be freaking psyched to do something, whether it's climbing, working, traveling, saving the environment, etc. I want to have the "want" to do something and not settle for anything less.

Since I still don't know what I want to do with my life in the long term, I want to take these years to really figure out what my purpose is. As of right now climbing is a huge part of my life. I don't see this fading for a while. It tests me in ways that I've never been tested before. Physically and mentally, every aspect presents a challenge and problem that I have to work through, and these experiences help me learn more about myself and the type of person I want to be.

You think I live in a "fantasy" land and that I need to grow up. Sure, I definitely need to grow up, and perhaps my life is like a fantasy, especially through your eyes. Life is a precious gift we've all received and I want to seize every moment and make the most of it because it's too short, and you never know when you're going to go.

For me, personally, I don't want to sit in a 9-5 job to make money, rent an apartment, and climb on the weekends. It seems like a worthless pursuit if I don't really want to be working a desk job.

I know you're worried about the direction of my path, but don't be or at least try not to. I am very confident in my abilities to forge my own path, make something of myself,  and be damn good at whatever I put my mind to. So I will be taking some time, months, maybe years, to travel, learn, climb, and just become a better person.

So why did I go to college and get $8000 in debt? Seems like a waste, especially since you've been helping me since I've transferred to Berkeley, right? Well, although you might consider it a waste since I'm not entering the workforce right away, I do not. I love learning and I am grateful for the opportunity to live in a new area. Getting a college education is hard work and I have learned many useful skills that are applicable to real life such as becoming a better communicator through writing and speaking. And at one point, I was very much into school and studies. Going to college has also lead me to rock climbing and being outside, where I feel most at home and I know you're frowning about this (since you don't approve of these habits), but climbing has pushed me in a direction where I find value, meaning, and fulfillment. I feel rich, surrounded by a beautiful community of people, doing exciting things, and being content with less.

Once school ends, I will be completely on my own, and I am very excited for this next chapter in my life (as I know you are, too!). I'm writing this lengthy email to you because I really value your opinion as a person, and I want you to wish me well, rather than worry. I am self-reliant, happy, and some-what intelligent (sometimes).  Trust me to make wise and safe decisions. I think I can do that. And most importantly, and I've told you this before, GO explore the world. You need to experience things just as much as I need to, and now, that I'm no longer a hinder to you, you have no excuse! Find a passion, Mom. Find your stoke! I want you to be as stoked on life as I am.

Love love love,

I also sent my mom this video, one of my favorites:

35 from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.


  1. Some (well, probably most) may see you as a still-adolescent college graduate who has no clue as to what to do with her life. Without stepping on any boundaries, I cannot disagree more. As you said yourself, what you want to do right now is to explore the world and do whatever it is that fits your day. There you go, that is your goal. Not everything in life needs a complex, sophisticated answer. And just knowing what you want to do, however simple it is, already puts you ahead of the vast majority of people in the world. The reality is that you will likely end up laboring for pay until you retire at 60-something. There is no need to rush yourself to turn into one of those mindless drones who wake up, get dressed, and go to work because they just feel like they have to. It is especially so if you have a strong conviction against it. Who knows, during your travels maybe you'll find a way to avoid doing that. It took me two years to realize that and it was one of the most liberating moments of my life. All I can say is that this time is not a waste - what you actually have is a very clear idea of where to take your life. You have a beautiful soul and I think the world will be such a better place with more people like you. Since I can't take copies of you and drop one off at every place I stop by, please do go out there and share your smile with the world.

    With much love and support,

    P.S. Please change the background and font colors - my eyes hurt reading your page.