Dear Dollie: My Future is Radiant
The dreams I had for my future have grown and evolved so many times since the last time I saw you.
At 18 years old, I saw myself continuing to study nursing at San Francisco State University for 4 years. I anticipated graduating at 22 years old and finding a job in a local hospital. After gaining 2-3 years of work experience, I was going to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. That would lead to me owning a family practice, primarily focused on pediatrics.
Instead, at 22 years old, I wrapped up my Junior year at the American University in Bulgaria. I then took a semester off to do an internship at the State Department in their Cultural Programs office. That position propelled me onto a career path in International Education. I graduated at 23 with a degree in International Relations, Political Science, and Anthropology.
Graduating was hard. Really hard. I wasn’t ready to leave behind the protective cocoon of college. I also wasn’t ready to leave the Balkans, a place I had made my home for 3 years. Fortunately, 3 days after graduating I got a position recruiting high school exchange students to come to the U.S. It was a 4-month contract job based in Belgrade, Serbia. I didn’t hesitate for a moment deciding to return to the region.
That position lead to a job in the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. You would have been so proud of me – I know Grandpa was. Fortunately, I was able to spend the holidays in California between Serbia and D.C. It turned out to be the last Christmas we got to spend with Grandpa.
I started my job lit up with passion and enthusiasm. I saw myself working in that industry for the rest of my career. But the glow quickly dimmed. For reasons I’ll share with you later, I didn’t fit in with upper management and was left feeling emotionally drained, physically exhausted, and completely disheartened.
So, I packed up and left. Confidently recalling your words of wisdom, “never settle,” but awash with the fear that I would never find my calling. Similarly to my medical dreams, the path was so clearly laid out of what my future would hold if I continued in that position. But I knew, and still know, that there is something more that I am meant to do.
I’ve spent the last year trying to pin-point exactly what that is – a journey that has been demanding, shocking, exciting, and more illuminating than I ever expected.
I can feel it in every fiber of my being that I’m nearing the destination, or more realistically, the next stop on this trip called life.
Thank you for instilling in me the courage to become who I am truly meant to be. Your example resonates inside me and because of you I trust that my future is radiant.