When Things Don't Go to Plan

 When Things Don't Go to Plan | On the Street Where We Live (aretherelilactrees.com)

I hate my new haircut. It's not what I envisioned. I headed to our hair salon with a picture of how I wanted it, excited for that feeling of freshness that comes with cutting off the ends, and left feeling...short. 

I usually can't be bothered when it comes to my hair. I'll flip it side to side or tie it up throughout the day because I want it out of my face. My approach to hair is that it grows back. But this haircut bothers me. When I look in a mirror, it not only doesn't look like me, it doesn't feel like me. And what that makes me feel is stuck.

This isn't about the haircut, of course. This is me projecting other things that I've not let myself process, and compartmentalized away onto what this haircut represents—things not going to plan. 

It's one of the big paradoxes of my life. I still remember the disbelief on my colleagues' faces when I shared that I suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks. Outwardly, and especially in my professional persona, I appear to be calm and collected. My colleagues and students rely on my consistency. Most of my favorite teaching moments are unplanned, and I prefer not to get bogged down by minutiae, but to focus on the big picture. Internally, at any given moment, I'm contemplating a thousand different possibilities and playing or replaying a thousand different situations in my head. And I combat this anxiety by planning—always ten steps ahead and with plan Bs for my plan Bs.

I have been fortunate throughout these six years post-undergrad to have always had another job lined up when I left a job. It's the only way a person as anxious as I am could leave a job. Before we moved to Seoul, I signed a two-year contract for my current position at my current school. This month, I submitted my intent to terminate that contract early, at the end of this school year. I don't have another job lined up. At first, I reveled in this—it was the most free I had ever felt my entire life. I can do anything I want to do. And how fortunate am I to be able to quit a job without another lined up and feel free? Then I realized that the reason I feel free is that I'm not tethered to anything, and that I have no idea what I want to do.

I've always known what I wanted since I was old enough to be aware of wanting things. I want Oreos but I don't want to eat the cookies. (I'd make my poor sister eat the cookies after I scraped off the cream.) I want to play the piano but I don't want to learn that song. (I gave my piano teachers a hard time about this.) I want the job but I want it for this pay. (I got it.) So long as I knew what I wanted, I could figure out how to get it, and then work to get it. Not knowing what I want has left me with not even the prospect of a plan. And it's frustrating.

I am so fortunate. At 21, I started my career as an educator. And I remember that day, my first year, when I looked around my classroom at my students and thought, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be and exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. Now I'm not so sure.


It'll grow back.


Outfit details: Totême tee | J.Crew Factory skirt | Louis Vuitton Speedy 30