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A Turning Point

2020 March 215 min read

Two years ago today, at what was perhaps the pivotal moment in my life so far, I wrote the first entry in my private journal. Going back to it now is a very weird experience - equal parts painful, because of my optimism, and striking, because of how many exciting things I didn't see coming. This will be a very personal post, but I thought today would be a nice opportunity for me to go back and reflect on where I was two years ago, and how my life has changed since then.

2018 March 21: A Turning Point

Last night, in the span of about half an hour, my world got turned upside down. It was quick, honest, and completely unexpected, and it left me with a flurry of complicated emotions bouncing around inside me that I knew would take a long time to settle down.
After over a year and a half with Kim, her memory is etched into the happiest days, months, and years of my life. I dedicated everything I did to her - music, writing, etc. I opened up to her about my entire life, my deepest feelings and my darkest memories, in a way that I've never come close to doing before, and I was incredibly privileged to be able to do that. And during our relationship, as those dark memories became more distant in my rear view, and my happiness continued to improve beyond any of my expectations, I stuck with her as she progressed through her darkest times and bounced back hard towards the path of success. It was a phenomenal experience - her determination was my inspiration, and will likely continue to be.
I recognize the importance of these next few days, that I still have the opportunity to alter the memory of March 2018 that will persist in my mind for the rest of my life. It's a huge turning point for me, and i'm doing my best to turn in the right direction.
In general, I'm trying to return to the mindset of 2015-2016 as much as possible. My work will give me a good opportunity to focus my energy on programming - something that has been generally kind of a chore for me for the past couple years, since so much of it has been for academic or work-related purposes. I've also written a lot of music lately, and my portfolio is more marketable than ever, so it might be time to get off my butt where that's concerned as well. I've even thought about reviving the chess club at my university - as if I'm not busy enough, I know. All this is hypothetical, but at least thinking about it can help to take my mind off the past and make me excited for the future again.
If this is just a break, and we do get back together when I move to New York for grad school - which is a very real possibility that we've discussed - then I'll want to have something to show for the year and a half that I spent without her.

Suffice to say, I was right about one thing: it was a huge turning point for me, to an extent I didn't even anticipate at the time. I'm not sure what flurry of mixed reactions would have accompanied my flurry of mixed emotions had you told me, on March 21, 2018, that in the next two years I would go on to quit my job, organize a 90-minute solo concert, travel on my own for the first time, become a central figure in a grassroots movement, drop out of school 75% of the way to graduating, start a political organization, and begin an intensive year-long pursuit of a career in music and tutoring. It's as if I went to bed on March 20 and woke up a completely different person.

Kim and I haven't talked in almost two years, and although I would still take her back in a heartbeat, I no longer feel as much pain when I look back at the time we spent together and all that came out of it. It's been a long road, full of peaks and craters, but the memories are now distant enough in my rear view that I can filter out the negative associations and see them fondly again. I've made new memories for myself since then, and I have new friends now with whom I can share the old memories. I've seen and helped them through their struggles, and found the same fulfillment in watching them persist and succeed as I did with Kim. And that private journal I started two years ago is just now crossing 50,000 words, and I always find nostalgic pleasure in reading back through old entries every now and then.

Still... if I could go back and stop the breakup from happening - or even prevent us from meeting in the first place - I would probably do it. But in that timeline, I would not have grown as much, personally, as I have in the past two years. Instead, I would be a shallower, happier person, with passions, motivation, and a spotless resume that would make me a killing in the job market. And honestly, I'd take that over being a more mature but hopelessly depressed college dropout. (If you disagree, maybe you've never been a hopelessly depressed college dropout.)

But nevertheless, despite all the punches I've taken in the past two years, the mental and physical illnesses that have crippled me for months on end, I can definitely say I have something to show for the time I spent without Kim. And she was not my motivation; I was.

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