Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pursuing "X"

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I am plausibly the world’s worst mathematician. Long division is a lost cause, in Algebra I drew caricatures of my Charlie Brown droning teacher, in Geometry I drew graffiti, and if I’m being completely honest, even basic addition and subtraction has always been a bit of a challenge… but my longstanding nemesis has always been solving for variables.

It used to infuriate me when teachers would tell me to solve the equation for "X". How? You tell me what "X" is and then I’ll solve the math problem. I have never understood why "X" was allowed to be the sacred placeholder for whatever value the cruel textbook curator wished it to be – until now.

I have given absolutely no consideration to math outside of necessity since I completed my last required math class two summers ago, but I’ve found myself in the position to re-visit solving for variables. When solving for variables, there are multiple things to consider – the constants, the functions, and the variables themselves.

This past year has been a hell of a roller coaster. I have been up, down, and upside down more times than I can count. I have sucked the poison out of parts of my life only to inadvertently contaminate others. I have played with fire and gotten burned. I have poured concrete into new foundations only to realize I was standing in it, but somehow, despite the odds and often thanks to others, I have managed to move forward. I have been abundantly blessed with opportunities to actively engage in things that I believe in, work that I love, meaningful education, and substantial personal growth. All of these factors have contributed significantly to the metamorphosis of my bigger picture and to the variables in my equation.

I have known what I wanted to do with my life since I was in 8th grade. I’ve wanted to teach music forever: it was a straight-laced math problem. Case closed, done deal – except that it’s not. In fact, I’ve been having quite the identity crisis about it. It’s not that I don’t want to teach music, I love it more than I love a lot of things – but I have an ever-expanding laundry list of things worth pursuing.

I am ready for the next chapter in my life… I am hopelessly addicted to new beginnings and admittedly guilty of wishing time away to pursue them. I have always been an old soul and I’m not sure I could ever reverse that even if I wanted to. Life has often taught me lessons the hard way, serving as jet fuel to an already ambitious fire… I have always colored outside the lines, and any time I’ve spent “inside the box” has been spent thinking of ways to get out. Patience has never been a strong virtue of mine, but it’s one I’m working on channeling now more than ever.

Two weeks ago I was apartment hunting and interviewing for jobs for the year I was planning on taking off of school – but you could say I had a bucket of ice water dumped on my head last week and that idea froze alongside me upon contact.

You see, I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve been solving for variables by trying to establish the constants when in reality, there really aren’t any. Opportunities come and go, friends come and go - lets face it, even family comes and family goes. I am the only constant in my equation - if I cheat myself the education I know I’m capable of and have already invested in, I’m only robbing myself… and by “taking the year off” I’m simply operating on borrowed time.

I want that year "off" more than I can begin to describe, but the longer I put off grad school the more time I spend postponing the inevitable. I can't not finish what I started. I see the value in taking the sanity time, some days I’m not sure I can make it without it, but if I spend 365 more days committed to finishing what I started, I have the rest of my life to solve for variables… and the best part about that is, I get to define "X" in my own textbook.

I could take the year now, never go back, and spend the next twenty years of my life justifying the lack of credentials one more year could have gotten me – or I could put my best foot forward, whether I want to or not, and let the variables solve themselves. I will openly say I don’t remember ever being so unsure of myself, but this is also the first time the bigger picture has morphed into panorama.

I call it the "X Factor." 

"X" is untapped potential. "X" is the future, and "X" is mine for the taking. 
I’m not a sideline sitter – never have been, never will be. I’m a go-getter, or at least I try to be. I don’t always make the right decisions, but I try to make smart ones. I certainly don’t know what lies beyond the crossroad where opportunity meets reality, so for today I'm defining "X" as possibility. 

I am absolutely aware that opportunities fall out of reach just as quickly as they fell into your hands in the first place, and I hope by postponing a full-fledged new beginning I haven’t imposed a premature ending - but I have to believe that either way, the door will continue to revolve. Everything in this life is a variable and subject to change. God knows I have no idea how to solve this equation, so perhaps I’ll take a backseat for now and let time do what it does best. 

Contrary to my passionate hatred of mathematics, I am a believer in the variables.

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