Something tells me you’re too scared to go

I went and visited a friend in Carrboro today. That’s close to Chapel Hill, for you non-North Carolinians. I drove down Franklin Street to Carrboro, and I saw all these places that I used to know, places I spent time with friends. Caribou Coffee. 411 West. Jersey Mike’s. Armadillo Grill. I never spent quite enough time in the area to fully understand all of its ins and outs, but I did get to know it a little bit. My parents go to church in Chapel Hill, and have since I was about 11, so I spent time with youth group friends there, spent time with other families after church, spent time with friends who would drive to Chapel Hill on a Saturday night. I never thought a whole lot about where I would go to college, but as a die-hard Tarheel fan, I had kind of always thought I’d go to UNC. When I had to make the decision, though, I realized maybe it would be too big for me, that I needed something smaller. There were other reasons, too, like scholarships and roommates and feeling that maybe being in Chapel Hill and seeing my parents at church every Sunday wasn’t quite enough “going away” to college. It was a whole combination of factors, some large and some small, but ultimately I ended up at UNCG.

Being in Chapel Hill makes me realize what a big decision that really was. If I had gone to UNC, I would have different friends – a huge consideration, since I don’t have any high school friends. I would probably have gone to my parents’ church (and maybe even their college outreach instead of IV) all those years, so my spiritual journey would have looked different (though, who knows, maybe I would have ended up in the same place). I don’t know if I would have been a librarian. I wouldn’t have met Mike. Obviously, choosing to marry Mike was the biggest long-term decision in my life, but, at this point, I probably have many of the same friends I would have had if I’d said no to him. If I’d chosen UNC, I wouldn’t even know those people. I wouldn’t know him. My life really would be different.

I had fun with my friend today, but I got home and I just felt drained. It’s so strange to think about the different twists and turns your life can take. I don’t regret the choices I’ve made – after all, just yesterday I was talking about how great my life is, and I really feel that way. It’s just that being there today made me wonder what it would have been like to have that life, if I hadn’t let the size and scope of UNC intimidate me. If I had been a little more brave in some ways.

I don’t think I’m a very brave person in general – I have a sign in my kitchen that says “courage,” because that’s the message I think I most often need to hear. Lately I’ve been trying to be brave in small ways – asking someone I don’t know very well to lunch, worrying a little less about what people think of me . . . I find those things hard. I come from a small town, and I know my limitations, so I don’t expect I’m ever going to embark on any crazy journeys. At the same time, though, I’m trying not to play it safe. It’s easy to get into a routine, but I don’t want to look back and realize I was always too scared to take the risky path.

(Josh is going to say that this post was also inspired by The Format, and he’s probably right.)

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7 Comments

  1. Yes!

    The more Format, the better.

    Posted 1/29/2006 at | Permalink
  2. alisa

    I think your brave, Kari.

    Posted 1/29/2006 at | Permalink
  3. :dittostupid:

    Posted 1/29/2006 at | Permalink
  4. scott

    people think college is a big step, but just choosing the college affects more than most people realize i think.

    Posted 1/30/2006 at | Permalink
  5. I don’t think that the big-college experience is for everyone, Kari. Some of us crave a smaller community for ourselves, and I think that’s okay. Could I have gone to Purdue or Illinois or Penn State and gotten a better aerospace education? Sure. Would I have gotten the whole benefit that I got out of going to the smaller, closer-to-home UAH? No. It would have shaped me in ways that I can’t really imagine, and while I sometimes wonder what might have been, I don’t do it too often. [Re-thinking choices I made while in school is a whole different matter.]

    Posted 1/30/2006 at | Permalink
  6. Kari

    Yeah, it’s not something I think about all the time, but when I’m faced with it, like I was yesterday, it can be a little overwhelming.

    Posted 1/30/2006 at | Permalink
  7. I think the reason that we focus on such things is because college is one of the first choices that we really get to make in our lives where we’re the primary decision-maker. If I am somewhat more than the sum of my experiences, I didn’t really have much control over any of the places that we lived [and, by extension, the people with whom I associated] in, say, the first 16 years of life, because my surroundings were largely driven by my dad’s job situation and where my parents chose to live and worship. That gave me an environmental set from which I was able to choose my subset of friends.

    But college was different, because I could, within some parameters, make that choice on my own. [That may be getting close to the heart of what you’re aiming at here. That I’m awful slow to the party is, well, nothing new. I’m vamping, just like, oh, 80% of my emails to ya. ;)] I got to make the decision as to where I went. Not only did I get the subset choice, but I got the larger choice, too.

    [I said 16 years for me because of my two years in a statewide magnet high school. You know, just like if you’d gone to NCSSM.]

    Posted 1/30/2006 at | Permalink

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