I waited until after the One Direction concert to tell my parents I wasn’t graduating.
If you’ve ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure book, or if you were more of a Give Yourself Goosebumps kid like I was, you’d know that you don’t get to most of the less-than-ideal endings on one bad decision alone — and I’ve made many. When you retrace your steps, you eventually find the one mistake that came before the rest and led you on the path to anti-righteousness. Mine was playing it safe and choosing a more technical side of English to study at university when all I’d ever wanted had been to take up creative writing.
A couple of years and a pile of crumpled blue books later, and I had to face the facts: I got sidetracked, I’d fallen behind on my classes, and I could no longer catch up. It wasn’t quite the worst ending, but it’s close.
I had my last hurrah at day one of the On the Road Again tour in Manila, lamenting that life was so much simpler when the One Thing video came out.
My parents took it about as well as you’d expect. Understatement of the millennium, but it wasn’t fun, having to face the truth of my failure and their disappointment after carrying it on my own and losing sleep over it for months. It seemed that everyone was going off and moving on, while I was stuck in limbo. It got hard to want to be conscious most days, and I turned to self-deprecation that barely masked my self-loathing and self-doubt.
But you want to know something? I wouldn’t change anything, not really.
If I’d breezed through college, I’m almost sure I would’ve taken it all for granted. I never would have learned to take it as it comes, to take it day by day. I’m not the bravest person — scare houses at theme parks freak me out — but I can say I’ve faced the worst of some of my fears.
Really, what’s the hurry? Having gone to high school before K-12, I was made to decide on my future at 16, and even at 22, it gets difficult to make up your mind. Here’s what no one tells you, something you have to learn for yourself: You don’t have to get it right the first time. You can keep course-correcting until you’re on the right track, and the right track shifts and evolves more than you think.
It’s been two years. And I’m crossing my fingers as I type this, hardly able to believe it and careful not to jinx it, but I march this June. It’s taken a while, but I’m actually in a pretty okay place. I never once gave up on my education. I’ve got a job that I’ve worked toward since I was, like, eight. Turns out I got a good ending, after all.