Saturday, July 24, 2010

"well there's one thing to be said for money. it can make you rich."

i walked into the camping trailer with my cousin katelyn to see an elderly couple we had never met. our grandparents introduced us to them. they were their next-door-neighbors.
they had a grandson in the navy and a son who was a taxidermist even though he was an art major.
"don't go to school for something pointless like acting or art," the old man said. "you just won't get a job."
then, like the usual adults, they asked my cousin and i what we planned to do with our future.
katelyn explained her plans to become a dental hygenist.
"perfect career," the old woman said to her. "those are always in demand. i used to be a high school counselor, you know..."
then of course, she had to ask me what my future plans were.
i knew where this was going before the words passed my lips.
"i want to major in art history," i said.
she must have shook her head while saying no at least seven times.
"yep," i said, "that's what i want to do."
"nooooo," she said, very condescendingly. "you will never get a job."
"sure i will," i said, "i can work in a museum or i could teach."
"nooooo," she said again, "very few schools offer art history."
"mine does."
"well, i was a counselor in granite district, and there was no art history department."
i wanted to say, "well i guess i won't be teaching in granite district!" but instead i shrugged.
her husband jumped in: "you know, you could be an engineer. the world always needs female engineers."
really? really? i thought. i just shrugged again. "i don't want to be an engineer. i'm not good at that stuff."
my grandma rolled her eyes towards me. i smiled. "hannah can do anything she wants," she said.
"noooo," the woman said again. "how about english? minor in art history. major in english. everyone needs an english teacher."
all i could do was shrug and eat my wheat thins silently until i, declared a future failure, would be left in peace.

now, my family and i laugh about this event often. everyone tries to come up with new careers for me, because i sure can't go into art history anymore.. (del taco tortilla flipper, night guard, etc.)
but why is it that at the time, this exchange terrified me? i couldn't open my mouth to oppose to a small old lady's objections, because i was so afraid a sob would escape my lips instead? of course, i thought of about a million snarky retorts i could have said once she left and i regained myself.
my aspirations have always been extremely important to me. my potential drives me. my determination (along with help from others) causes me to accomplish things i would have never thought possible.
i have looked back on the past year, especially, and am amazed at what i was able to become.
i know i'm a little prideful, and it's something i have to work on everyday. i don't think i'm some incredible being who's able to conquer the world in the name of her convictions, but i am proud of what i've done.
so, i don't like to be doubted.
my grandma said, "i just wanted to shove something in that lady's mouth! who is she to judge what you can or cannot accomplish? i wanted to say, 'my granddaughter is capable of anything. when she sets her mind to something, it happens'. i guess her counselor side just came out, and she was trying to protect you from making a mistake."
a mistake.
and now we're back to the ever-present topic of failure.
is it better to risk security for happiness and fail, or to live forever thinking what if?
what if. what if?

i think that security is an illusion.
but happiness isn't.
then why is it that the risk of security is the reasoning behind playing it safe?
what are we afraid of?
but what about regret? the elephant in the room that can eat away at any person that harbors it?
don't get me wrong. hundreds of times in my life, i've stepped back and chosen to take the "easy" way out. but the several times i've mustered up enough courage to leave my comfort zone have rewarded me enough that i remember a risk is worth it.

risk. risk. risk.
you know how when you say a word too much and then it doesn't sound like word anymore? or look like one? how it turns into something foreign, devoid of meaning?
that doesn't apply here. i've said it plenty. and somehow, it's still packed full of meaning.
(do you think all meaningful words are like that? love, hate, courage, strength, faith. they all still sound like words to me.)

–verb (used with object)
to expose to the chance of injury or loss; hazard: to risk one's life.
to venture upon; take or run the chance of: to risk a fall in climbing; to risk a war.

a risk isn't always a negative thing.
i'm completely willing to (expose) monetary security (to the chance of loss) for something i love.
i'm also completely willing (to venture upon) being happy.
i would know that what you think is security is completely dependent upon the actions of others.
blink, and your "security" will be gone.
happiness, though, is more durable. true happiness, i think, doesn't disappear when other things do. it might be harder to maintain, but it's completely up to you. right?
i don't believe in solid security. i've gotten by just fine without it.

this woman worries me. i can't help but wonder how many high school kids' dreams she's crushed as a counselor.
just do me a favor, will ya? don't give up on your dreams.
this country isn't resting on people who play it safe.
it's not propelled by people who settle for less than they love.
it wouldn't even exist if there weren't people who were willing to risk something.

i think i'll send this lady a postcard from art school.

By: Hannah

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you look really good today!