A few years ago, after I graduated from college, I found myself wedged in a tight spot. I didn’t know whether to continue with higher education or get a job and start a career.  Up until this point, sports had been the center of my life and here it was, the moment where golden dreams were beginning to be replaced by gray cubicles and black desk chairs.

I wasn’t ready for it, I’m still not ready to give up the colorful talent in me. I needed more time. A break. A break from school and adulthood. I never had the chance to explore my creativity. Sure, I took elective courses, but I never went after my passion. I was stuck in a routine: Go to school, practice basketball, run track, and study. I had been doing this my entire life. I never thought my time would run out or things would change. 

 You know, senior year of college is funny, it is like you are man child or woman child. You can’t believe it, you are now an adult, a real living adult, with soon to have adult problems and responsibilities. There is a decision that you will have to make. What are you going to do next?

 Many people will tell you to keep continuing with school. “Go get your masters,” the demands of old women who work as Walmart cashiers said to me while they handed me coins, “Get a full-time job with great benefits like your father,” my grandma said. My dad pressured me to apply to Law school. I checked out the LSAT textbook from my local library, I soon realized this wasn’t my type of higher learning.  My mother wanted me to teach and coach basketball at my former high school. I couldn’t accept that. In my mind, if I did any of those things I would be settling. I wanted more: I wanted the sky.

I didn’t want to let my parents down. My mother worked for the State, she had her masters in Chemistry and my father worked for the Federal government. They had work hard for the life they had provided my sister and I, to be the generation that didn’t exceed their parents screamed failure. 

While I was contemplating, I saw other people accomplishing their dreams. The years 2014 and 2015, was the rise of the social media stars. I knew people who were becoming legit models, playing basketball overseas, becoming doctors due to networking and self-marketing. I was behind the ball. 

My undeveloped and unfinished craft curdled inside of me. Too old to follow the pursuits I had as a young girl, I felt jealous. A jealousy that I knew well; I missed out.  Was it jealousy or was it really fear. I was more than capable of banking on my potential, but the other side of me knew I didn’t want to struggle- or did I not want to do the work? Both. I wasn’t ready for the opportunity that presented so wallowed in self- doubt. 

That summer, after I graduated, I became a couch potato suffering from another injury.  I loathed around the house, eating and moaning like a zombie.  My mother tried to keep me motivated, but it failed. I was unreachable. She must have had enough of me, one day, while I was flipping through the tv, my mother placed a worn red journal on my lap. My old journal. I opened it and the first page jumped out at me. I had written at the top of the page:

When I grow up I want to be….

The 5 things I wrote on that page stared at me like I didn’t write them! I stared back at what I had written. I wrote that when I was nine! The nine- year- old me had more confidence than I had when I was 23. None of the things listed was I actively pursuing. The ones I did pursue, I took it lightly. As I read the next pages of my journal, a memory came to me, a memory that must have been repressed in my mind.  

I remember, A few days before graduation, I was at a food court grabbing some sandwiches after my shift at the River’s Club in Pittsburgh. I ran into my teammate’s mother. When she was my age, she had worked at the River’s Club too. She embraced me. When she let me go, she asked what was I going to do. I shrugged my shoulders and babbled. She must’ve known I was scared. She sighed, her shoulders relaxed. She looked at me and said, “Vianka, take your time, you have your whole life ahead of you, don’t work now, live.” She paused and gave me another smile and continued, “You have the rest of your life to do what you like, I wish I would have took my time, when I was your age.”  I replied in the same positive energy she gave me.

We talked about the highs and lows of the basketball season then said our goodbyes. I watched her walk out hand in hand with her husband through the double doors to Grant Street. That memory that came to me on the couch and those dreams I wrote when I was a child marched to the forefront of my mind. First thing I needed to was go back to my first dream. From that day, on my couch with a torn MCL and a fractured tibia, I told myself I would follow my passion no matter what and I have been doing just that. The answers is your passion. 

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