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Question: Self Discovery

andrea duclos
Every once in a while I think I should start a question and answer post on the blog-- but not of important things--- just of the random or quirky questions you guys ask. Which let's be honest-- can be pretty important sometimes. Am I right? Totally. But then I don't---- because I'm not really sure where to start. I mentioned this on my How To Start A Garden post, but sometimes, when I have a task in front of me, I over think it completely and I can't start at all. I'm really terrific at just not starting things. I'm also terrific at starting things and then running away immediately, somewhere in the middle--- or hey, sometimes even at the end of the task. For a long time, I'd say running (metaphorically, never physically) was a passion of mine.

Anyway, I've been in a weird mood the past two days-- actually a pretty good mood, but a slightly distracted mood. I think it has to do with the season change and the upcoming holidays. I've mentioned it ages ago, but I typically get pretty bummy around the holidays, but this year feels different and I don't have that bah-humbug feeling I've had throughout my life, not a little, not at all. I'm just my good ole' sort of everywhere self. On instagram today I was asked a question about finding what I wanted to do with my life--- you know, how I got to here. And I thought, well, I don't have a short specific answer, but why not answer that now and here--- it is a pretty good question. I'll start here with my thought. I'll answer it here. I was also asked this week about Marlowe being raised vegan-- and our cleaning habits too--- and I do want to get to those too! But I think they would do better for a whole separate post!

SO! The question:

"I was wondering if you would ever consider posting about your experiences whilst figuring out what you wanted to do with your life. I'm at the place in life where I love my part time job, I'm being proactive where both mental and physical health are concerned, but I absolutely hate school and I'm just ready to go about my life minus school. Excuse the ramble haha, I'm just very curious about everyone's self discovery journeys"

(this is too long)



Well, I'm going to go ahead and start this off by saying this: I never would suggest or recommend that anyone drop out of school. And even if I did, let's agree it wouldn't be a wise decision to do it because someone on the internet told you to, right? Right. So now that we got that out of the way, let me start.

I think you guys have a pretty good idea that I wasn't in any sort of writing major. In fact--- I think I failed writing twice (in college, not in high school), but I don't remember. I went into college 11 years ago! (That's crazy). I left high school with decent grades (A and B's-- maybe a C somewhere in a math class)--- not great, not awful, but mostly due to the fact that I was just a lazy kid who didn't want to put the extra effort in. I was doing enough and getting decent grades, and that was fine for me. I applied to two colleges. I got into both. I decided to go to the University Of Rhode Island as a Marine Biology major. Sharks, yay! Here's the funny thing: I'm actually pretty scared of the ocean! I mean, I can be on a boat and be fine-- but IN the ocean? Pft. But regardless, Marine Bio was one of my favorite courses in high school, I had a concern for animals (I was vegetarian then too, not vegan yet), I loved science, and I wanted to try to do something good for the earth. A few weeks before school started, I received a letter from the college asking if I wanted to be a Marine Affairs major instead---and by doing this I would almost cut the tuition bill in half (maybe half. that's an estimate. again, it was a long time ago). I said yes. I went to school... and for three years I struggled. Really, really struggled. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of friends, people who I love dearly. I have a million good-- amazing memories, but I also have a lot of bad ones too. My anxiety issues REALLY picked up--- maybe even started completely in college. It was a really rough path. In general, I am an introvert. I do love to be around people--- but I do need to regroup myself-- especially if I'm going to be around A LOT of people. And even now, I'm still struggling, but working on being okay with people I don't know. I took a lot of Marine Affairs courses of course, some sustainability courses, oceanography--- and then hey, a million art and psych courses-- because I really, really like those things! I also worked part time at a candy store and as a hostess. (I ate a lot of candy). About three years passed and I felt like I was going no where. Yes, I was slowly getting a degree, but I struggled with myself, with what I was doing, I struggled with the huge reality that maybe I didn't know what I wanted to be, or do, or what career was for me. Things didn't feel right, but I had ZERO idea how to fix them. But I what I did know was that my seasonal depression, my high anxiety, and my general uneasiness with the future was not helping. I wanted to do more, I wanted to feel better, and I wanted to be happy---- and I wasn't doing those things. It felt like I was actually just making everything worse.

2006-2007 rolls around and I was at the point where I knew: what I was doing was not working. And so I ran. (cue: flock of seagulls). I ran so far away. I pretty much gave my mom a heart attack and packed up my belongings and moved from Rhode Island to Arizona--- and drove there! (Sorry mom!) I was craving the sun (roughly 355 days of it). I thrive in the heat in sun and my brain pretty much collapses in the cold dreary New England weather. Dramatic, I know, but sometimes it feels that way. What did I do in Arizona? Well, not much. I gained about 20lbs-- I pretty much had no idea how to feed myself at this point. I lived off of pizza and falafel in college. I hardly ate vegetables. And in Arizona I had a steady diet of pasta with red sauce cheese and red wine. I worked a few odd jobs here and there--- waitressing, putting together furniture, a print shop. I watched ten jillion hours of LOST. And I made some pretty cool friends to hang out with. And I decide to apply for culinary school, because I liked cooking-- I just didn't know how to do it, and thought, HEY I SHOULD JUMP RIGHT IN. Then on the first day, I drove there, I got too anxious, and I didn't go in. Then I never went back. I wasn't ready. After about 10 months of just sitting, working on my depression (while slowly making it worse with diet and drinking too), and still just trying to figure out what I wanted, I  picked up and moved to Florida.

You see, at this point, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I was raised to think: office, paperwork, numbers. My brain works in: colors, curved lines, and symmetrical structures. No where am I methodological or structured person. I don't work well in a box. I felt like I had already messed up any chance of design or an art career. I felt too old for that game--- at least in the career sense. And so I was lost. I was literally moving back and forth across the country, lost in what I wanted and who I was and how to be happy with myself. In florida, I knew a few random people--- I actually met a friends off the internet--- which I guess was strange-ish at that time. And slowly I started to build a group of friends. Some of them I'm still very close with now. Some, I could have been maybe better off without :) Career wise: My dad asked me if I wanted to work with him. I needed a job and I said yes. Two weeks later, I was out of there. I love my dad, but I wouldn't be taking over the family business anytime soon. I got a job as a waitress during the day and a bartender at night. And I did this for a good amount of time--- and I was starting to find my balance. I don't think I can say I was happy everyday, but I wasn't sad everyday either, and that was a big improvement. I had a lot of fun people in my life. I lived by myself (and jerry the dog-- I picked him up in a shelter in Arizona). I was doing okay. And I was starting to feel better-- but I still felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. Which looking back, is sort of silly, because what exactly defines what "anywhere" or "there" is? Either way, I thought I wasn't there--- and I obviously had to be somewhere, right? Wrong. I was already somewhere--- I just needed to be happy.

Oh! I should mention! In the time in West Palm, I became vegan. This helped A LOT. My mood drastically increased with this change. I felt better than I had felt in years. I still had anxiety--- but that one change really increased my gut and mood. My boyfriend at the time, best friend Laura, and another friend move to Miami. We all wanted to go back to school. I did not go back right away, though I wanted to. I got a job running a health food store instead. I have no idea what the time frame is--- or how long I was even in Miami at this point, but eventually, I did make it back to school. I was accepted and enrolled as a Nutrition major. After seeing the positive affect food had on my own mental health, I knew I wanted to focus more on this. You know how many Nutrition courses I took? Zero. The rest? Psychology. And Art. Again. I somehow found a glitch in the computer system and took all higher level art courses that I wasn't (on paper) qualified for. Again, I still had no idea what I wanted to do--but I was doing something. At this point, I was dating Alex---who I sort of met while living there-- unless you count the one time I met him in West Palm but wouldn't say more than "hi" to him and then ignored him. While all the people I came to Miami with were gone. At this point I got pregnant. I left school and moved back home to West Palm to live with my brother and sister in law until I could find a place. And Alex moved to New York. If you scroll back far enough--- think four to five years--- thats where this space, this chapter started.

And even in the past four to five years--- I have been everywhere. Working on a food truck part time (while working on this blog part time), picking up and leaving to cook in Hawaii, coming back, making things, selling things, doing basically anything I can--- while living----

So where am I now in this ridiculously long post? I'm here--- not "there" not "anywhere"--- I didn't go from point A to make it to point B. I'm still going. I've been publicly writing online for 16 years now. If I had known I could make this a career would I have? Maybe, but at some point in time, I would have probably run from that too. Can I see myself in Marine Biology of Marine Affairs now? No. Not full time. As a nutritionist? Maybe. As a chef? Nope. Not in a serious kitchen anyway. In some art career? I feel like that is sort of what this space is for me now-- and can potentially expand even more into. I didn't completely decide "I'm going to make a career out of blogging" it sort of just happened--- and for that-- and for how I am with my imperfections and personality traits, I am lucky. And I am grateful everyday. I'm really not a great example of how to make it there. Or of how to build a career without school. In fact---- I'm really a BAD example of it. But I am a wonderful example that in life, there is no straight path set out that is certain to make any of us happy. And I'm a great example that the most important thing is to find happiness first-- work through the now, and the rest will follow. You know the ridiculously cheesy (and awful) inspirational quote "it's not the destination, it's the journey"--- it's sort of lame, but completely true. You're already there. 



***
In other notes: I finally, for the first time in a long time, picked up yoga again. I dropped it towards the end of the year last year and was pretty much completely swamped up until now. I'm planing to try out a few different places and styles maybe even barre (who knows!)--- but I really am aiming to stay in a studio or class this time around. It feels good. And I said it already today, but it was a good reminder, that any positive change, even a small one, is a good change. 

oh and on less positive news: there seems to be a glitch on my phone and I cannot in any way turn on my instagram notifications--- I usually like to leave the comment notifications in case they're questions on older photos, but for whatever reason I can't now. So if you do comment on an older photo, there's a 99.7% chance I won't see it and I'm sorry. As always, I do answer all emails that come in my inbox and I try to answer all other questions that I see, but sometimes I miss some. The best way for me to see a question on my feed, is to comment on my most recent photo and the best way to ask me something on your own photo (rare, but you never know) is to hashtag #ohdeardrea. Super stupid, but I felt like I should mention it, because it makes me feel like a jerk if I ignore people, even accidentally. Oh and I might from time to time answer more questions directly on the blog, but I would expect most answers it be (not even) 10% of this in length :) 

Have a wonderful and cozy weekend, friends!

photo by the wonderful and amazing: hannah mayo photography 

19 comments:

  1. You are so real; it's quite refreshing!

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  2. Great post! Thanks for sharing :) I too am a starter, not a finisher, but even sometimes I feel too overwhelmed to begin because I want to get it just right, and am overthinking it too much

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  3. This is such an insightful post! I'm currently a senior in college and I have a major and two minors but what I WANT to do with my life isn't quite what I'm studying to do. So as of right now I've got sort of a "I hope this all just falls into place" mentality. And its terrifying. I graduate next December (2015) and am hoping to find something traveling and writing and learning about new cultures. But I don't know how to get there. I suppose you really do just have to "work through the now" and keep your fingers crossed :)
    ~ Samantha

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  4. Love this post and can totally relate! Some people just aren't destined for a straight forward life! Sometimes I envy those friends who went straight from High School to University, have stayed in the same sensible jobs, own a house etc... but when I really think about, I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything! I've traveled the world, moved cities because I felt like it, I've owned an online vintage shop, met the most colourful folk during my ten year's of hospitality work, managed some dodgy bars (patched up some head wounds!), became a costume stylist, earned myself two degrees, married my equally offbeat (body piercer turned photographer) husband, have an amazing daughter, tend to my vege patch and continue to need a healthy dose of adventure in my life! Now that I've hit my 30s I feel I can look back on my 20s and feel really proud that I lived them to their fullest... and I still haven't found my path yet :)

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  5. thanks so much for sharing, Drea! Amazing post. You're an inspiration. Hey- i did want to ask your thoughts on schooling Marlowe? I'm already doing some reading up on homeschooling Finley and I'm curious to hear what's going to happen with Marlowe this next year-- she'll be at that age to start school, right? xo

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    1. we're figuring it out! the school system in florida is jenky at best. luckily (?? maybe??) for us-- her birthday is on the late side and we have to wait an extra year anyway ;)

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  6. Thank you for sharing your journey. It’s calming to know that we all struggle to find our way! I’m a full-time oil painter, all day/every day. Painting is hard, and sometimes calling yourself a painter can be even harder. There are lots of people that will never understand that what I do is a real job, but it only matters that I know it is a real job. I got my bfa with a good deal of anxiety, loved college life, but was so over it, moved home the day after graduation…while many of my peers set off to grad school. You could not pay me to go back to school, and really I don’t see the point (for me). I’m already doing what I want to do, and am learning from my own experiences. I have lots of inspirational quotes taped to my studio walls, and here’s one of my favorites, by Columbia biologist Stuart Firestein.

    “From a historical perspective the path to discovery may seem clear, but the reality is that there are twists and turns and reversals and failures and cul de sacs all along the path to any discovery.”

    *I read that on http://www.brainpickings.org/ Great site for inspiration!

    Elly
    http://www.ellytullisart.com/

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  7. Thanks, Drea. This was pretty much the most aptly timed topic ever. I really needed the reminder that I'm already there.

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  8. This "I have no idea what I want to do" thing, is exactly what i am dealing with right now. And i really try to understand your words here "in life there is no straight path set out for any of us that is certain to make us happy." Because the truth is, i kind of believe in this. Should i think this over?
    Bisous!

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  9. A lovely post Drea, it's refreshing to hear your story, and see how you've got to a good place without having a clearly defined plan. I've wandered in and out of things in my life, it's been a long road here. I was thinking about some of the jobs I've had just yesterday, and some of the ups and downs along the way. I still don't really have a Plan. But I'm happier than I've ever been I think, despite anxiety and worry in certain areas. CJ xx

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  10. Lovely post. It perfectly sums up how we are never really "there," but rather always on the way "there." Also, the eating thing? I need to change that drastically. I can't wait for your cookbook!

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  11. I literally have no idea what to do with my life, haha. I have a bachelor's degree in english and 0 plans to use it. No clue what job I want. I am moving down to Florida in the next 2 years and I'm just hoping that change brings me some sort of clarity or accidental opportunities that let me know what exactly I want. This post is wonderful to me because it's nice to read about other people who have been lost in their life as well but now are happy and have a great life/family :)

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  12. love this post. i really needed this today!
    xx nikki
    www.dream-in-neon.com

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  13. wow! thank you for sharing. your food for thought. and words of wisdom. i recently stumbled upon your ig (i'm @moonandseahawaii if you want to follow along) ... and now this sacred space of a blog! totally inspired by your openness and creative style. im a pisces dreamer too. somewhat of a jill of all trades. and a mama of two. soul searching. practicing mindfulness. and taking each day as it comes. yet still trying to find my niche ... if that makes any sense at all. anyhow, thank you for being you. and for reconfirming that it's totally ok to be the cool spiritual hippie dork that i am. ;) aloha + big hugs!

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