It was not my aim to break it off with him. I just felt suffocated and needed. At first, I was flattered that he needed me. I later realized that he needed me to get over his father's death. They were very close. I knew them well. I grew up in the same neighborhood where he was raised. It was a well-known secret that we would end up together, how and for how long, it wasn't clear to us and to our friends. We shared phone calls and visits to the mall just like all other teenage couples. Occasionally our parents would chaperone us to high school dances. When his dad passed away he changed. He was sad and bitter. I was around and happy to be with him but that turned out not to be enough!
My first year of college was a joy because he was working all the time and only attended lectures at night. I lived like a student and without the daily responsibilities of having a boyfriend or a hardcore adult life. Many days he would return from classes and find me dead asleep. I liked this routine because I had time to myself. That was good and bad because I started to realize that I was too attached to a guy that I grew up with. I did not have any other fresh ideas or unique experiences that were outside of the perimeter of where we lived and attended school.
I set goals for myself, that I had about seven months that were left to that year to figure out who I was and what I wanted in life. My daily recordings in my notebook which I used to keep track of my life's changes, became my mantra. Something new and important had to happen and I had to have something to record in order to face myself. I would wake up, wash my face, look in the mirror, and ask myself what I saw.
Blemishes, dry skin, droopy eyelids, bumps on my nose, dry lips, barely-there eyelashes, an awkward sized face, I did not even want to look at my hair. That was the first month of the experiment. That did not feel so good, I told myself after reviewing my first attempt at evaluating my life, and that I needed a lot of work.
The second month was well with us and I tried to change what was on my mind immediately after looking at myself in the mirror. Now I see my grade for my first test in class. That was not a good grade! I see my lecture notes and scribbles that were illogical. I don't remember what the professor said and I drew a happy face! I was late for class yesterday. I hung out in the cafeteria more than I needed to and missed my class because I was talking to someone that I wanted to impress and befriend! Not so good!
The third month was sort of promising. I had listened to an audio of a motivational speaker who had tricks to hurry up and improve lives only if listeners, listened to and followed his assigned steps to improve their lives. Well, that was good right? Plus, I heard from my doctor that my test results were all okay, and there was nothing to worry about. Good month, right? My professor called my name and asked me to define psychosis. I was not prepared. I recalled word for word what he had said in class about psychosis and repeated it as my response. He had a sad look on his face and said; "you did not read the chapter that I asked you to read to prepare for class. Did you?" I did not have to say anything, it was understood that I disappointed the class by not respecting them enough to see them worthy of my time and "intellect". The professor said," she is right, but what I needed to hear was her answer..."
Okay, month three what is really going on here?
Well, the motivational speaker said we must learn to tell the truth. We must learn to be honest with ourselves about what we know and what we can do.
My grades won't improve unless I study more. I may not know what to do, but there is someone who might know. For instance, I might have to attend a discussion session and ask for a Teaching Assistant to help me. Instead of rushing home to go to the gym, I might hang out in the library until I feel like doing my homework. I might record my professor in class and write legible notes. That is good. But what is best, is if I go over the notes again with my tape recorder and then study the assigned reading, and finish the quizzes. Thereafter I can call my TA and ask if I could have old tests that the professor assigned in his classes. Perhaps even take those old tests and measure my knowledge of the work. How will that make me feel?
Okay, month four. I feel smart because I submitted my work on time. How am I going to reward myself? I will go to Starbucks and buy a fun-filled cup of coffee. I think that my food choices also need improvement. By the way, I stopped talking too much to my boyfriend. I stepped back and started to observe more. Guess what I found, I was the one doing the talking most of the time. It was not because his dad died. I talked a lot, always all the time and he was there to listen. I noticed his style of clothing. He wore clothes that he bought for himself. They were sharp and looked healthy. I did not see him in his clothes. "What's wrong? you need a pet or something," he said to me.
Well, it is month four, the goals index still had three more months before sign off time. I think I am ready now to face what started my goal setting and planning of my life. My boyfriend has a mind of his own. I don't think that I heard him at all. He wondered if I needed a pet. That is far out of the ballpark of what I would normally think. He noticed that I had a problem and his solution was that I must get a pet. Problem: Solution: Problem: Solution: His shirt looks like the shirts that I saw sold at Target. When did he go to Target? Problem: Solution. The conclusion of the events of month four is inconclusive, more work needed.
Month five. I think for sure that I am a moron. I submitted my work to my professors and I got remarks. "Try harder, Read more, Go to Target with me"
My mom used to give me a star if I watered the garden, cleaned the dog poop, took out trash cans on trash collection days. My chart had stars. In college so far, I am getting remarks. If you applied yourself, even more, you just might make it! Month four was my break the ceiling month. "I am better than this." I can take notes in class. I can wash my face with an astringent. I can tame my hair. I can look in the mirror and not see myself. I can make it to class on time. I can take a friend's phone number and "schedule" hangout time. No, I actually can meet a person and not pressure them to be my friend. I am in college to learn. I must buy a car. I can have a lot accomplished if I had a car. What if I applied for a job on campus and went to the gym at night?
Month six is wonderful. Everyone is wonderful. I got my first A in class without a remark. My boyfriend wore clothes that I did not recognize and I thought to myself that we needed to break up. I had school. I had a job. I also had a car and I did not want to play house with him. But it feels so good to know someone in college. I met a couple of friends who seemed to be able to juggle school and work. I need a new apartment. I want more than what I had at that moment. I once talked to a friend or classmate at lunch about school and how to study and where to study where they stayed open until late. She mentioned a few places on campus a few libraries and I think I said something like, "My boyfriend will be in a class by then." "oh you didn't tell me that you had a boyfriend!" my friend said. "how is that going?" "I barely see him, he works all day and takes classes at night. I wonder if we can study together." Immediately after saying that, I had the answer to all of my nagging questions. This is not for everyone, it was for me, I was not supposed to have a boyfriend in college and talk and know the caliber of men and women that I was associating with then. I also got the answer about my boyfriend, I should not feel awkward mentioning his name if I am talking about something that is important to me.
The last month of my goals setting reminders was a doozzy. "I think that we should talk about it." We talked. I live in my own apartment. I like my job. I meet with a study group twice a week. Once a week I have a dummy quizlets session with my TA. I don't begrudge my professors for giving me an A grade. I know and feel that I have earned it. I go to the gym and stay for as long as my health will allow me. My facial creams are getting more and more expensive. I arrive to work on time. I still don't have a pet yet. My friends do not make me feel awkward. They can predict my activities.
To reward myself for the year of changes, and goal setting, my friends and I are going to a street party and we will party like it's "1999!"