I’m not going to lie: as fun as contributor month has been (thank you so much to every single person who contributed their time and words to TwT!), I miss you guys. Big changes are coming my way… However, I knew not much would happen during February, so I figured I’d do a little hibernating while you all shared your own adventures, and I allowed my new plan to brew.
This worked out perfectly. I know I’ve been a bit vague, but now I’ll explain what I am up to… And don’t worry: I’m off to Puerto Rico at the end of the month so a spurt of wanderlust will be injected back into TwT! CAN.NOT.WAIT.
Three men at the rose garden. Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
But first, a little background…
My mom used to tell me about how, as a little girl, I was always very cautious. Whenever it was time to make a big decision, like what instrument I was going to play or how safe a rickety wooden bridge was to cross, I would stew in my thoughts as long as it took until I decided the instrument was the right choice for me (yes, I played the flute for TWELVE years – don’t hate), or the bridge was safe enough to cross. Once I made a decision though, I went for it whole heartedly.
In the playground, while my older sister would run recklessly up to the top of the biggest slide and tumble down it however she had to in order to prove she was fearless and brave (unsurprisingly, she ended up being the co-captain of the Radcliffe/Harvard women’s rugby team), I would stand at the bottom watching her make all the first mistakes. That was the one nice thing about being the second oldest of five kids; I always had one person who could test out the waters before me. I’d let her go a few times, and I’d watch other kids go up and down as I quietly observed. Once I realized it was safe, and possibly even fun, only then would I be ready to make the risky journey to the top of the slide. And it was thrilling. The way down was always easier, of course.
Once I committed to something, be it a slide, an instrument, a sport, I was 100% committed. I have always been this way. Although now, I’d say I’m more reckless than ever. Not reckless in the sense that I haven’t evaluated how bad things could turn out, but reckless in the sense that I know I’ll be ok: I’ve been through enough to know I can get by with a few extra scars and bruises. But most of the time, it’s not that simple; some of my biggest disasters have been my most profound learning experiences. It took getting knocked down quite a few times to learn that one.
Hammock ropes. Tumbaco, Ecuador.
I love a challenge and I love proving to myself that I can handle something a little crazy — like waking up at 5 am all four years of college to row in the Maine (brrr) sunrise, or taking on the terrifying opportunity to choreograph a 15-person dance my senior year of high school for the biggest school production of the year (when I felt like a completely awkward dancer myself, and I HATE being on stage). That said, I still find myself sometimes sitting back, quietly evaluating the risks involved in very big decisions before I jump in. But, just like when I was a kid, whenever I finally decide to go for something, I am fully committed to it and will do whatever it takes to achieve/fight for my new goal. Whether it’s deciding to start a blog, committing to a whole lot of work, or allowing myself to fall in love… ah yes… I become a part of the decision, 100%, and I jump.
Well, I’m onto my next challenge! Beginning on May 23, I am becoming a student again. I just got accepted to the NYU Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Health Studies Program and I will be committing to two years of straight up SCIENCE classes so that I can eventually apply to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy. I AM SO EXCITED.
I know, I know. It sounds crazy, random, quarter-life-crisis-y, or whatever you want to say. But what many people might not know, is that I have been sitting back, looking up at this slide for a very LONG time. Before I went to college, I thought I wanted to be an ER doctor, a surgeon, or a writer. I got to campus, went to the pre-med meeting my first week of freshman year, took one look at all the courses I would have to take if I went pre-med (Biology, Chemistry, ORGANIC Chemistry…), then took a look at all the other courses offered (Cosmic Sexualities, Archaeology of the Hellenistic World, Ancient Greek Medicine, Latin American Testimonio, Mozart: The Man, The Myth and The Music, Dance, and Art, Science, and the Mind) and just went… NAHHHHH.
I made a very conscious decision that first week: I decided, instead of taking any courses I HAVE to take, I was going to go through college taking whatever the fuck I WANTED to take, and — although this decision is about to bite me in the ass — I have absolutely NO regrets. I loved EVERY SINGLE COURSE I took in college (yes, even Integral Calculus) and I got to study abroad in Barcelona! I know I was a TRUE liberal arts student because, the second I graduated, most people were concerned for me. Hehe. I mean, I was a Spanish major with a triple minor in Archaeology, Art History, and Asian Studies, but I could only declare one minor so I chose Archaeology — my favorite. What the hell kind of career does that get ya? I like to think it made me an, um, interesting person.
A crack in the bridge. Mindo, Ecuador.
While most of my fellow 2005 graduates are getting engaged (ok, maybe it just FEELS that way) and have JDs, MBAs, and close to MDs already, I am going back to school…as an undergraduate. Yep. My curriculum for the next two years goes something like this (did you know, btw, that there are many more pre-reqs for a DPT program than the med schoolers have? Yeah, me either.):
BIOLOGY 1, BIOLOGY II, BIOLOGY LAB
CHEMISTRY I, CHEMISTRY II, CHEMISTRY LAB
PHYSICS I (oh yes, I just said PHYSICS), PHYSICS II, PHYSICS LAB
DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY AND/OR ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY
ANATOMY w/ LAB, PHYSIOLOGY w/ LAB or a combined 2 semester of ANATOMY and PHYSIOLOGY w/ labs
Either ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, BIOCHEMISTRY or EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY.
I’m actually supposed to also take an English composition course. Can you believe that I have never taken a college-level English course?! There has got to be a way to dodge this one… I did like five of these courses, but they were in SPANISH! I’ve been a writer/editor for the past six years! I’ve co-authored two guidebooks! Please tell me that counts!
Me 16,000 ft above sea level, next to Ruminahui Peak. Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador.
So, as you can see, the next couple of years are going to be a shock to my system. Folks, I have not taken a science class in 10 years. I have not been in school for nearly six years. I have no idea what’s going to happen to my brain when I walk into my first 700-person physics course, but there’s only one way to find out. I’m about to get my ass completely kicked by science, and a part of me cannot wait. For most people, spending the next few years studying science and going to labs is the last thing they’d ever want to do. For me, the last thing I ever want is to wish I had…
I will spare you my thoughts on my impending and overwhelming financial doom, which may or may not have caused a recent mini meltdown (my first, so that’s a good sign!). That’s definitely for another post.
Today, I just wanted to share with you all the bottom line: I am on a whole new career path, in healthcare, and it is so liberating to finally say YES I CAN DO THIS after years of brushing it aside for adventures and income (ha, barely). I was beginning to think it was too late, and trying to give up on this path, but then I realized it is so NOT too late! Who says it’s too late? Fuck THEM. (Sorry for all the cursing this post… I’m apparently fired up!)
I realized in Ecuador that I absolutely love writing, and I will ALWAYS write, but maybe I didn’t need a boss to tell me how and when to do it; maybe I didn’t want to depend on publishing during this day and age. Maybe travel writing was the absolute coolest thing for me to do in my early and mid-twenties, but I got traveled-out, ran out of money, and realized it was too unstable for the life I want to live now. (Juan the Amoeba wasn’t much help.) I will write because I love it, not because it is my job, and now I will also work with people in a helping capacity just like I’ve always secretly wanted… I am not afraid to be the first Travel Writer turned Doctor of Physical Therapy, and I do plan to combine both eventually. Watch.
I just hope you stick by me as I transition. So far, I am volunteering at two different outpatient physical therapy places, and I am absolutely loving it. Being in healthcare is like being on a different planet for me… but I can honestly say it feels more right and more at home to be on this planet than being in a cubicle and putting on the corporate “show” ever did.
I mean, let’s be honest: I am looking up at one big fucking slide… But this adult Tavel, well she’s not the kind of girl who gets too scared to go for a wild ride. Not anymore.