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from every branch

I've been thinking about this quote by Sylvia Plath. It seems particularly apt at this point in my life. I can't decide if it's blessing or a curse that my life is undecided. 

Although I am proud of the work I've been creating lately, I can't shake the feeling that I would have had more opportunities if I had made different decisions in the past. Consequently, I have a lot of anxiety about making decisions right now. 

And not necessarily big decisions. I worry that, through the butterfly effect or whatever, what I eat for breakfast will somehow effect the trajectory of my life. It's not that this kind of thinking is invalid, but it's not really the best way to go about day-to-day life. 

I think the severity of this anxiety will subside soon, but that also scares me. I made the decision to not go to a four year university out of high school in part because I wanted to lengthen this small window of time where my future, prospective adult life can be whatever I want it to be.

Just a little over a year from now, when I transfer schools, I'll have to start limiting the number of things my adult life can branch into. I'm fortunate enough to have discovered my passions from a fairly young age, and I am thankful to have this direction, and excited to be heading down a path to hopefully achieve my career goals in the future, but it's hard not to feel like I'm losing something.

But it's a double-edged sword, because I can't help but think that by choosing to continue to live in this netherworld between childhood and adulthood, I have also missed out on opportunities and connections. Being from a small town, I've always felt like I'm at a disadvantage in terms of finding reliable collaborators and freelance work that would look impressive on a resume. It's hard to further the professional opportunities I have had from a distance.

As a result, I tend to want complete creative control over my projects. I've been given the chance to be a part of small publications just starting out, and I always rejected them for fear that better things would come along and I would start to feel overwhelmed. It didn't make sense to me to spend my time and energy on something when the people that started it would flake when it came to doing the actual work and later swoop in and take all the credit. To be honest, I'm not much of a team player.

There is the other facet to this issue, which is that most of the work you do as a young person starting out is unpaid, even if it is for a prestigious company. I find this genuinely disheartening. When I was fourteen, I was paid to write for HelloGiggles, and that was a very pivotal moment for me. I was not given much, but I felt that I had legitimacy as a writer, and it gave me the confidence to pitch other publications and to continue to pursue a career in journalism. Of course, now I'm a firm believer in self publishing and putting stuff out there in whatever way you can, and not necessarily waiting for the creative validity that comes with being published, but I also think you should know your worth and know when you're being exploited. I'm still figuring that out. 

I also know that I'm not always going to be able to be top dog, and I should take any opportunity to hone my skills as a writer or creative or whatever, and that sometimes it's okay to be paid in exposure (depending on the circumstances), as long as you're okay with it and recognize what that means. I'm trying to change my self-isolating, control freak tendencies. I am thankful that the internet can help to elapse the distance between me and various collaborators. I do have a lot of exciting projects coming up. I recently accepted an unpaid position at a small publication, and I'm hoping it's a good experience, that it's a gamble that pays off. I think that by doing more and taking on all that I can handle, my anxiety about missing out on things and making the wrong decision will subside and be replaced with pride in what I am doing and what I have decided. 


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