Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dallas does...catch me if you can.

The thing about birthdays is...they mark the perfect time to think about life. Where it's taken you and where you're headed.
Yes, even on this 21st birthday, with many more (liquid) things on my mind than life goals, I found myself returning again and again to the idea that over two decades of my life have already flown by, and I'm really just getting started.
My friends like to tease me about my need to overthink everything, saying that it's ridiculous to worry because, "In the end, you're Kelsey Dallas, and everything will be okay."
Everything will be okay.
This mantra's gotten quite the workout this year, guiding me through the deaths of two grandparents, tough situations amongst family and friends and continuous fears about what my rapidly approaching "adult life" has in store for me.
And maybe, just maybe, I'm finally starting to be convinced of its truth.
When I was 17 years old, I began the difficult task of choosing a college. Luckily for me, the University of Iowa plopped itself in my lap with a hefty scholarship offer, and the answer was too obvious to ignore.
And even that decision came with some heart-wrenching side effects, as I spent several of those 3-hour drives from Lincoln to Iowa City my freshman year drowning in homesickness.
But never once did I stop believing that I had done the right thing for me. Because somewhere in the mess that I like to call a "lovable personality," lies what I consider my strongest asset: vision.
I see myself doing something, becoming someone, succeeding somewhere, and I make it happen. I may sob with fear the night before I start each new adventure, but I never let myself think that I've done something wrong by choosing to take on a challenge.
That was true during the horrifying moment that my parents left me by the curb at my freshman dorm and still true as I lie here with tears in my eyes preparing to leave for my wild summer job.
Voicing how panicked I am about my upcoming summer, several people have reached out to me to let me know how positive they are that this job is right for me. That there's something amazing in the potential this summer holds to change my life.
And I have to agree with them. Staring down all of my fears, I am confident that there's many beautiful things on the horizon, no matter how uncertain it all seems right now.
Uncertainty: the evil twin sister of my beloved vision.
I make myself sick thinking of all that can go wrong between Point A and Point B.
But somehow, on this third day of my 21st year of life, I've discovered a little voice in my heart that's telling me that everything really is going to be okay.
...Though I'm not sure how I can trust the voice that's probably also responsible for my ridiculous (and unrelenting) belief in true romance.
Nevertheless, today I'm making a commitment to keep following that vision.
We can call it my birthday present to myself. In what will become the most pivotal year of my young life, I promise to keep being that person who doesn't settle for what's safe, and chases after the dreams that keep me awake at night.
Like everyone, all I really want is to be happy. And I think I've finally realized that what makes me happy is never holding still while all the best parts of life come to find me. I want to throw myself at them screaming "Pick me!"
And so hear I sit. Still teary-eyed and (thankfully) still at the very beginning of my 21st year.
I've already written so much about who I want to become this next year. Someone who has fun without having a list of consequences cycling threw her mind, someone who can fall in love with reckless abandon just because it feels so much better than trying to control every little detail.
But I guess all I really want to be is true to myself. True to the Kelsey who has gotten me this far. True to that little voice that's tugging me away from my comfort zone into lands unknown.
I don't want to...and I can't...let myself stand still.

Peace, love and growing pains,

"And I'm not the girl that I intend to be. But I dare you darlin' just you wait and see. But this time not for you, but just for me."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dallas does...the camp counselor crush.

"Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test and don't ask why.
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time."

Before you go assuming that I've employed this epic Green Day song as a lead-in to the inevitable birthday blog that will come this week, let me assure you that I'm using it to convey a very different sort of message.
You see, this Green Day song, besides being an amazing throwback to the days of music before the Ke$has and Gagas, holds a very, very special place in my heart due to a certain camp counselor named Sean.
Sean was the resident dreamboat during one of my weeks as an East Bay camper almost a decade ago and remains in my mind a perfect specimen of a crush that every young girl must have: the summer camp crush. He sat center stage on talent show night and belted this song, creating an image that remains burned in my brain to this day.
Blonde, tanned and tone, Sean was exactly the man my 12-year-old self wanted to spend the rest of her life with, but, alas, these things never do seem to work out, do they? Pesky counselor-camper regulations...just kidding. ;)
What makes me laugh every time I hear this song is that never once did my young self question the fact that with Sean I would find absolute happiness. It seemed so clear. He had a guitar, a great voice, and I would be the envy of every other girl in the cabin. What more was there to ask for?
Well, quite a bit, actually, but that younger version of myself couldn't concern herself with the little details. For her, it was enough to see his big blue eyes glance toward the general vicinity of my fifth row bench seat.
The 12-year-old me had little business deciding anything more than what I would wear each day (and even that's debatable). But decide she did and these choices stick with me even to this day, as evidenced by the slight blush that reddens my cheeks whenever this tune comes on a radio station.
So the real question is, do these decisions really become "lessons learned in time"? Will I ever stop asking myself "Why, oh why, did you do that?"
The answer to this great debate remains impossibly negative, as I continue to be someone who shrugs off the same advice she happily doles out to others.
If life lessons were graded on a 4.0-scale, my gpa would be woefully lower than the one next to my name on my University of Iowa report card.
I talk a big game in these blog posts, but the fact is, I've never really left behind that little girl on a wooden bench who believed that just thinking about something makes it true.
A friend told me this week that I treat love like a monkey treats a Rubik's cube- examining it from every angle, determined to understand it.
Aside from the slight disturbance that comes from any simile linking me and an ape, I winced at the idea that just like anyone simply holding a Rubik's cube is missing the point of spinning the different pieces, I'm missing the entire point of love by just sitting on a couch discussing it.
I'm perfectly happy counseling friends through their romantic dramas (and for some, it should be a paying gig) but when it comes to me, I'm painfully afraid of making the leap from initial thoughts of "Oh, gee, Sean sure is cute" to "Hey Sean, wanna share my bug spray at the lake this afternoon?"
If I'm spending all this time crafting the perfect answers, why do I never force myself to take the tests?
So for my class of one, my assignment this summer is to stop staying in with my books and movies, and get out for some field experience.
Because I think we're all getting a little sick of my rom-com references.
Maybe Green Day was really on to something when they said,
"It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life."
Love isn't something you chart on graph paper, it's something you live and learn from.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to unpredictability.
It's time I had the time of my life.

Peace, love and pocket watches,

"It's a risk to love. What if it doesn't work out. Ah, but what if it does?"