As I write this blog post, I am in a van, heading back to school after a four-day weekend in Chicago. Fair warning, this is about to get unashamedly real. The past couple months in the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky have been a huge personal challenge. From getting through reverse culture shock, to trying to be myself in a place where I don’t necessary thrive, it’s been difficult, emotional, and ultimately a beautiful learning experience.
I don’t love school, but I am good at it. I get shit done and I show up to class. The problem is that I go through each day, with a constant desire to drop-out and run away to bigger cities full of freedom and possibility. I feel stuck, and I want out. This is one thing that I haven’t figured out how to deal with or process emotionally. At this point, I just don’t see the point of being here at Asbury and studying something that I defaulted to just because I placed out of some of the classes. And besides, I am done with every class required for my French major at the end of this semester. So why am I here? Is any of this going to be worth it? Is it really necessary to keep paying money to an institution that it doesn’t feel like is teaching me anything? So, until I find answers to these questions, I will sit through class after class and be a responsible student like I know how to do. I have one year to go and maybe someday I’ll realize that it was all worth it.
Relationships with people have been tricky recently, but also have been beautiful pictures of grace and redemption that have been getting me through this semester. In the past, I’ve trusted people who said they were my friends, only to be rejected and hurt. None of that was necessarily my fault, but I didn’t love myself enough to realize my worth as a friend and as a person, so I let people manipulate and step all over me. I have learned so much from that hurt and I’m continually learning to love myself more and more. In the past few months, it’s been absolutely beautiful to see a broken friendship be reconciled and turn into an incredible support and encouragement system. So much joy has come from that healing. Other sweet friendships have grown into honest, real friendships and I am beginning to realize that I have real friends who care about and love me, and who I can trust. It’s hard to believe sometimes, but these friendships are so comforting and precious.
I love cities. There is a quote I heard once: “The city was alive and so was she.” That sums up exactly how being in a city makes me feel: alive, free and like anything is possible. I feel confident and feel like myself. I can see a joy in myself that I can’t see when I am anywhere else. I know who I am and who I want to be; everything is clear and I feel inspired. Last semester, I fell in love with the beautiful city of Paris. It changed my perspective on life and it gave me new and bigger dreams. It isn’t something that most people understand, but I will be back in Paris one day. It’s a big dream that very few people in my life know how to support. Not that people don’t believe in me, but they don’t understand and I can’t blame them. I’m only twenty years old, going around saying that I want to open my own specialty coffee shop in Paris, France. It sounds crazy, it does. But, spending this weekend in Chicago just validated and grew that dream for me, so get ready for me to sound even crazier!
This little weekend trip was a class trip for my Contemporary Art Seminar class, so we visited the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art while we were there. While those were interesting and good experiences, the places that I felt inspired were at a small, empty gallery and a photography studio. The gallery, called Patron, is run by a woman who graduated from Asbury and the encouragement that she gave to us was so reassuring. The photography studio belongs to a local food photographer, Kelly Allison, who had our class over for dinner and gave us a tour and talked to each of us about your dreams and goals. Her hospitality was much appreciated and she was so full of life and joy, but also realistic and down-to-earth. These two women had big dreams and they stepped out into the world with a confidence and determination that has helped them reach the place that they are today. They were the inspiration that I needed this weekend and I will forever be grateful for that. Along with these two women, my Professor, who lived in Paris with us last semester, reminded me of how proud she is of me and how she can’t see me living anywhere other than Paris. She is a huge support and encouragement in my life and I couldn’t agree with her more.
These little experiences in Chicago this weekend helped me to gain a clearer perspective on what my dream involves. The thing is that I want something to organize and manage beyond just a café in Paris. I want to help people with more than just their caffeine intake. I’ve started to realize how much I love seeing peoples’ personalities through their art. So, having a café that is within the confines of an art gallery is exactly what I want. I’ve seen it done as a photography gallery, but as far as I know, an art gallery café does not exist in Paris yet. I would love to be the person who makes this happen. Not only would I be able to meet travelers and locals through my café, but I would be making real connections in the art world in Paris, and potentially helping to support young artists. It’s a big, crazy dream, for sure, but there isn’t anything stopping me from trying.
When I texted three long paragraphs about my dreams and realizations to one of my best friends, his reply was “So now it’s time to chase this?” The answer to that questions is a resounding YES. Dreams are meant to be chased. It is a huge risk, but it gives me joy. So, to the people who support and believe in me, thank you. And to the people who tell me this is silly and unrealistic, you’re wrong. Let me dream. It’s only a crazy dream until it’s a damn reality. And you just wait.