Once every six months or so I just completely break down. As someone who is generally happy, I don’t often lose it. But when I do, I’m a hot mess. Last night I was a hot mess.
Everything suddenly just seemed unmanageable. My job makes me unhappy, I really miss my family and honestly, I’m so sick of having to work extra gigs for enough cash to cover groceries.
The stupidest things can set you off sometimes. I couldn’t wait to get home last night. I was excited to read on the bus ride, cook something healthy and fresh then head over to the gym. I checked bus tracker, saw that a bus was coming, and finally headed out. Then what happened? Instead of stopping for us, the bus just rolled right past us. I looked on my bus tracker and saw that the next one didn’t come for another 18 minutes. I just started crying right then and there. I was doing such a good job of keeping it together all day and I couldn’t do it anymore.
The bus came late so we hit rush hour, which means that not only did I get home too late to do anything that I had planned, but I had to stand for an hour because there were no seats… which meant there was no way I could pull out my 600 page book, which was what I was looking forward to all day. I got home and just started sobbing. I settled for leftovers and Dance Moms, instead of fresh food and the gym, thinking I’d just get over it and be happy enough to go to a show with my friend by 10.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, I found myself in a heaping mess – unable to deal with my own emotions. I paused for an hour to chat with my brother but only found myself even more upset after I chatted with him because I was so damn homesick. I couldn’t control it. I just couldn’t stop crying.
Sometimes it gets so hard to be out here. No matter how incredible my friends are here, they’re not my family. I can’t drive a couple hours to be greeted by my mom’s cooking. When I’m having a rough week, I can’t escape to the burbs and catch up with my aunts. Whenever I have a show, I don’t have the luxury of a proud parent or sibling in the audience. And it’s hard.
Whenever I have a breakdown like this, I wonder if it’s all worth it. Is it worth it to stay this far from home if it means that I have a passing shot at making my dream work? Is it worth it to miss all the milestones in my family for something that may never happen? Is it worth it to work at a job I hate if it means that I may one day have the chance to do something creative for a living? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to move home, find a job I like and think of Chicago as a happy and distant memory?
Then I think back to the 26 hour train ride I took from New York to Chicago in 2012. How I realized that this is my second chance. That I just need to try the damn thing.
I can deal with disappointment, failure, lost time, fear… hell, I can even have my heart torn out. It’s happened before and will happen again. But I can’t deal with regret. I don’t think I would be able to forgive myself for giving up and always asking “What if?” What if I tried harder? What if I didn’t give up? What if I had enough faith in myself to see this through?
Most people who know me well know that I love reading autobiographies. There’s a reason. It reminds me that at some point, everyone struggled. Everyone thought that there was no way that they would be able to make it. That it was just too hard, too lonely, too exhausting. They had bumps along the way. They failed over and over and over again to get one glimpse of success.
I can handle that. I can’t handle “What Ifs?”
And when it’s bad, when I’m homesick, when I want to throw in the towel, I just have to let myself cry it out. Let myself be depressed. I have to remember that most people don’t even attempt their dreams. Doing so only made me a happier and better person.
Cue Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”