Profound quotes fascinate me. I love to sift through the words to discover a quote’s meaning, and find ways to apply it to my life.
I signed up for an e-mail address at 9-years-old, because I wanted to receive famous quotes in my inbox every day. I started a Notpad .txt document on my old Dell and kept a running list of my favorites. Eventually, the list required a second document.
The quoters are great. Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley, Mark Twain… the list goes on. It’s an exercise in nostalgia when I reread some of these quotes and rediscover how I originally felt. But you know what I’ve learned? The quotes don’t stick, because the words feel empty once they’re applied to my life. What the hell does Mark Twain know about me, anyway? How can I compare any personal struggles to those Martin Luther King Jr. conquered?
Some quotes have really stuck, though. But they’re the ones from the folks I’ve grown to love and trust more than I ever knew was possible.
It was a quote from my mom that sent me to college, in search of a way to change the dynamic of my family. One from my cousin told me to leave the small town where we grew up, and to establish a new foundation for myself. My uncle has a few blockbuster quotes etched into my mind, but there’s only one that I consistently grapple with each day.
“There’s a time to be a kid, and there’s a time to grow up. You’ll know when it’s time to make the change.”
He told me this in August 2007, after I quit a shitty part-time job so I could spend more time playing ultimate frisbee for the University of Missouri club team. I made the decision to supplement my grants, scholarships and loans with additional loans, rather than work 20 or more hours each week. My uncle seemed to agree with my decision back then, but it’s amazing how often comparable conflicts appear. Should I attend an expensive university and pay out-of-state tuition, or enroll in my hometown university and receive free tuition? Do I start a savings, or do I blow it on a study abroad program? You get the idea. I’m always required to hear that quote again and again.
I truly dream of actually having health insurance, no debt and a savings plan. Finding a solid job in an area with a low cost-of-living would be ideal. But throwing caution to the wind and heading to the west coast sounds a lot more attractive. If I can’t be a kid now, when can I be? But I can’t support myself unless I finally make the change that my uncle was talking about.
This isn’t exactly a new story; just look at Peter Pan, Benjamin Button or Tom Sawyer. But it’s my story, and it’s what I’m dealing with every day. I’m a recent graduate with a ton of debt and big dreams, and I’m somehow trying to live on both sides of that quote. I’ll find a way.