What if I took off a year, or two, or three, or five?
What if I spent some time growing up? What if I learned how to cook and how to look for jobs? What if I learned how to make friends in the real world, how to reach out to communities and people, how to interact as an adult, how to not be alone? What if I dedicated myself to real-world activism? What if I learned how to make change happen outside of college campuses, and what if I developed skill in the areas of direct action, mobilization, and making change happen?
What if I took some time to find myself? What if I read all the books I never had a chance to read? What if I transitioned to a place I'm comfortable in? What if I changed my gendered last name to my stepdad's gender-neutral Nagai, and started going by Cale? Doesn't mean I want to live male full-time, but maybe dress androgynous more often than I do feminine? What if I figured out what my political beliefs really are? What if I decided if I'm a radical anarchist or a libertarian conservative, or, more importantly, what if I discovered how to do radical anarchist activism even though I have fiscally conservative beliefs? What if I advocated for the well-being of marginalized groups I don't belong to, and what if I made some change?
What if I moved in with my step dad in Chicago? What if I grew closer to him and opened my life up to him? What if I made up for all of those years growing up without a father in my household? What if I discovered my place in Chicago, fell in love with the city? What if I worked there, advocated there, dreamed there? What if I went to the Art Institute every weekend? What if I traveled? What if I found a job abroad, maybe in England? What if I came back to DC after a while and worked here, lived my life here? I really don't want to leave this city...
What if I came back to school later, after I learned who I am and figured out why college is going wrong? I remember my first month in school, feeling thrilled with my classes, thrilled with my homework, growing intellectually every day. I remember telling someone how happy I was, how I can't imagine a place I'd be happier than a college campus. Then why is it still going wrong? Why don't I like it here, even though I was sure I would? Why is there something missing in my life, and I can't tell what it is? I can't find what I'm looking for if I don't know what it is, if I don't know who I am. I can't find what I'm looking for here.
What if I still got my PhD someday? What if I came back to finish my undergrad at the perfect school, in the perfect place?