part of the dream

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I’ve taken a much needed hiatus from writing lately. It’s funny, because I hate writing when it’s not on my mind. If it doesn’t just flow, I feel like I don’t have something to say. There have been a lot of changes in my life in the last month or so, and I finally feel prepared to discuss them.

I’ve moved to Atlanta. I’ve started my job at the Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE). I’ve hated being here. I’ve loved being here. I’ve decided not to go to France. See what happens when I don’t write?! Things accumulate in my life.

So here’s what’s on my mind today. Since Thessaloniki, my life has changed dramatically. Not just how I look (thanks to all that tatziki), but mentally and emotionally I am in a very different place in my life. When I went to Thessaloniki I fell in love. EVERYONE and their mother knows that. That was the first time in my life that I felt I was in a different place in my life physically (only being a sophomore in college) and where I wanted to be (a graduating senior). Had I been a senior that year, my life would be drastically different. I would have stayed in Greece. I would have been with Kosta. But, I wasn’t in that place in my life yet, so I had to wait. Many things changed in that time. Kosta and I moved on, he fell in love again, and now is getting married. I FINALLY graduated school. I had the opportunity to move anywhere.

Here’s what’s changed since Thessaloniki. After Kosta kinda sorta broke my heart, I told myself that I wouldn’t let a man dictate any of my decisions. My career became my baby, and I wanted to nurture every aspect of it so I could get farther in life. That’s why I chose to go to grad school, why I chose to leave Iowa for Georgia, and why in the past I continually move.  Put a pause button on that though.

I’ve been waiting for a reason for my life to change for a long time. I originally thought that change was going to Greece and meeting Kosta. Nope, that wasn’t it. He changed my world and made me know what I wanted to do next. I then moved back to Iowa to finish school. Nope, that wasn’t it either. It took me moving to Georgia to realize what I need, what I want and where I’m headed in my life, and let me tell you- it is nothing like I thought it would be.

There’s a statistic from my university that says that about 85% of UNI grads stay in Iowa after graduation. When I was younger I made an adamant remark saying I would be part of the 15% that leaves Iowa and part of the .01% that leaves the country as soon as possible. Now here’s the kicker. I left right after graduation for Atlanta. And I love this city, it’s beautiful, diverse, cultured and always has something to do. But here’s the thing I never thought I’d say. I miss Iowa. Pause for giant gasps. Yes, I actually miss Iowa. It’s beautiful and clean, it’s safe (overall), it’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family and it’s where my family and friends are.

I was on the phone with Alex the other night, and while our relationship has been a very tumultuous one, it’s based on a really strong foundation. Since he and I met back in March, he’s known about my plans for my life- my career, my travels, etc.  He knew when he met me that I would be leaving 3 months after he met me. He knew that no matter what happened in those months that we would be long distance if things continued. For the first time I was given the ok to put myself first and go somewhere without feeling guilty. When we were on the phone the other night I told him  that my boss was offering a full-time job to me here in ATL. He said, “well if that’s what needs to happen, you should take it.” If it were any other situation, I’d already be apartment hunting and planning my new life down here. But I thought to myself instead. Because from the beginning he always told me, “I don’t want to get in the way of your dreams. I don’t want to stop you from traveling, from pursuing your career, wherever that is.” While I’ve been offered an opportunity here in Georgia, I want my life in Iowa. I told Alex, it’s not that he’s getting in the way of my dreams, it’s that he’s becoming a part of them. Whoa, deep right? I have never let a man become so important to me that I incorporated him into my plans. That’s not like me.

Yet that’s what’s going on. That’s what’s beginning to happen. This decision however is not due to Alex. I realized while here in Atlanta, that while I want my master’s one day, there is no reason saying I have to get it right now. There’s so much in me that wants to push forward and prove myself to people and show how great a worker I am. I want to appreciate my degree and I want to know that it’s 100% the right decision for me at the time. Instead I want to go into the working world. I want to form a base in my life. And I want to give Alex and I the fighting chance I feel our relationship actually deserves. Considering we’ve been at least 2 hours away from each other, and now 17, since we’ve been together.

I’m looking at the part of my life I didn’t think I would consider until my late 20’s or early 30’s. I’m considering a relationship, the thought of family, and a long-term commitment. Not just my career. Not just the next place on my list of travel destinations. That’s a big step for me. Especially considering the relationships of my past and where I hoped my relationships would take me in the future.

Among my closest friends, there have been questions of Alex, and believe me- there have been questions in my heart as well. The thing I have to remind myself though is that the relationship I’m in has nothing to do with the other people in my life, and everything to do with just me and Alex. I spoke with my cousin Christie the other day, asking her opinion- and after explaining myself and my situation she said this:

“We all deserve another opportunity when we fail. Love is no different. Love causes us to give more chances than we would in other situations. It sounds like your heart is in this so I say go for it. The worst that happens is it doesn’t work out. Then you learn and grow. If it works, than you’ve gained a stronger love than you had before.”

Boom. That’s what I needed. I needed to hear ‘go for it’ and if it doesn’t work, tough, if it does you’ll be stronger in the end. That’s what I remind myself every day, and what I hope my friends and family can take away from the negative times. That I am willing to forgive failure and love past them to get to the end and be stronger from it. Because unlike a lot of the people in my life, I see my future in him.  I see my husband in this man. So while others may look at my decisions and question why I’m making the choices I am, if I’m letting a man dictate my decisions in life- I simply have to say I’m not. He doesn’t dictate anything. He simply is becoming part of my dreams, and for once, I think I’m making the right decision.

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