Last year, if I was being completely honest, I would have to admit that I was a deeply insecure and unhappy person, petrified by even the slightest hint of rejection from everyone and everything.
I felt lost on the crossroads of life, stuck at an impasse and ill-equipped to confront the challenges life was heaving at me—graduate classes, relationship problems, family problems, health issues, and the death of my beloved dog which threw me into a depression worthy of 19th century literature. One month into the spring semester, after spending my third consecutive day in pajamas, I decided a change must be made. This was not the life I wanted. I was tired of being insecure, tired of moping around—but mostly I was tired of waiting on the sidelines of my life, as if the adventure I had been longing for would magically spring from thin air.
I remember vividly having the realization that if my life was a television show, I would not be main character but the forgettable supporting character that would flit in and out of the show, never actually having much effect on the plot. How had I become a passive character in my own life? I had handed over the reins of my life and allowed other people to define me. No wonder I had been so desperately unhappy!
I needed to reinvest myself in my life. While Florida Tech had always been my pillar of support and strength, my renewed outlook on life gave me the opportunity to fall in love with FIT all over again. Instead of hesitating and allowing myself to be crippled by indecision and doubt, I started applying for all of the wonderful opportunities only found at Florida Tech. I have always, always wanted to be a writer, but fear kept me from submitting my work for critique—after attending the Creative Writing Institute at FIT, I learned to chuck that apprehension out the window and one week later had a short story for publication!
The very day my story was published, I found myself on a plane headed to Europe for two weeks as part of the European Study Abroad: The Netherlands program. After an amazing adventure, I found myself back in the US for a handful of days before whisking off to Taiwan for three weeks as part of the Study Abroad: Taiwan program. Upon my return, after a one-day rest, I served as one of the hosts to the American Studies Institute: Taiwan for 19 Taiwanese students studying at Florida Tech. Somewhere along the way, instead of waiting for an adventure to happen to me, I realized that my life had become a continuous adventure. All it had taken was the courage to decide I had to change.
While the Taiwanese students were here, we took many, many photos (I think we have close to 700 on our Facebook album!). I was tagged in a horrendous picture where my eyes glowed with something akin to demonic possession. Of course, the next picture I was tagged in happened to be a picture of me with no makeup looking like the creature of the black lagoon. Both made me laugh until my stomach muscles hurt because they were so bad. Kate of yesteryear would have untagged the photos immediately and pretended they were a photoshopped conspiracy. My response today? I am able to laugh it off with my Taiwanese friends, who didn’t quite understand how terrible the pictures were. “Kate,” they said, “even like that, you’re still pretty.”
That was the ah ha! moment for me. Somewhere between all of the adventuring, I have finally made peace with myself and feel comfortable in my own skin. This is a 100% direct product of my experiences at Florida Tech. It has taken me 24 years to achieve this, but I now wake up with a profound sense of contentedness that I’ve never had before. Clothes not completely perfect? That’s okay. Bad hair day? Oh well. Horrific pimple smack in the middle of my forehead? It happens. I don’t have to be perfect—I can just be me, and just me is good enough.
There is a Buddhist saying that a piece of gold is still gold even when it’s been dropped in the mud and covered with dirt. We all are fighting our own battles. We all face moments of indecision, apprehension, and self-doubt. Don’t let those moments define you. I am telling you right now—even when you feel lost, or that you’ve strayed from where you wanted to be: you are still gold. Dust yourself off, make the decision to change, and live the life that you’ve always wanted.
As we gear up for the fall semester, don’t get overwhelmed, and don’t allow yourself to be unhappy! The opportunities are open to you at Florida Tech! It is a slow process—I’m not promising resulted overnight. But I made the decision that I had to change six months ago, and look where it’s led me.
There is no reason you are not living the life you always wanted.
By Kate Broderick, master’s student of Global Strategic Communication and Student Services Coordinator. Contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.