Florida Stories: Best Laid Plans of Mice and Jenn

“When things go wrong, you’ll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start to go right they often go on getting better and better.”― C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

In the life and times of Jenn, oftentimes, things don’t go according to plan. So, I tend to over-plan, over-prepare, and hatch backup plans for backup plans. It all boils down to control, as in; I’ve got to have it or at least the illusion of it. To maintain the upper hand and remain cool has been a tenuous exercise in neurosis. Recently, I have learned that controlling others is impossible. What can I say? I’m a bit slow on the uptake.

“Others” includes the UK immigration bureau. I was accepted for fall 2013, but could not make it due to the strict immigration policy, limited timeframe, and even more limited funds. Devastation is a strong word but I’m reserved to use it for a lack of anything similar to describe the utter sadness and grief I felt in my heart. I wanted to give up. I wanted to let it all go. Old suicidal stirrings started to make their way to the surface – my recovery was now in peril. I lost control again, but only for a little while. This time I was able to take a step back and reflect on my current situation without self-harm.

After a number of emails and international phone calls, I was able to save a spot for next year. Evidently, this type of thing happens all the time for international students without a Rhodes, Fulbright or Marshall scholarship. Turns out I am lucky, as tuition is covered. All I need is proof that I will have the maintenance fee for an entire year. That part is tricky. I tried loans, but would need a cosigner. I did not want to put someone else in that position. Getting a job, selling off my personal library and car, saving and investing every penny would be the only way. I had exactly one year to right the ship.

S.S. Trumbull was in need of a massive overhaul if she was ever going to make it to London for fall 2014 without hitting any mental, emotional, and fiscal icebergs.

A year feels like forever when you are low on confidence and hope. Twelve months counting the minutes stuck in your hometown feels like a prison sentence. After reading Orange is the New Black, I began to truly empathize with the author, so much so that I seriously thought that I could make it in minimum security if needs be. And I never want to have that thought again. A change needed to take place and fast.

Like any good control freak, I have a plan:

– Get a steady job (no temp gigs). Progress: obtained with good benefits.

– Read everything I can get my hands on. Progress: working on it. (Even started a book club to keep on track!)

– Write as much and as often as possible.  Progress: working on it.

– Get into shape. Worrying puts on a good 10. Progress: working on it. (New running shoes purchased and ready for daily use.)

– Take advantage of everything St Pete has to offer. Not just partying like it 1999 like last summer but properly expanding my comfort zone. Progress: taking it as it comes, but could do more.

– Start therapy. Progress: insurance secured, just need a referral. (A mental tune-up is much needed if I’m going to be the best version of myself.)

– Learn about English culture. Progress: anglophile mode engaged.

– Be nicer, more polite, work harder, and be grateful for a second chance at greatness. Progress: taking it one day at a time. (I’m learning that it’s easier to be sincere than fake it.)

– Be kinder to myself. Progress: slow and lifelong process.

So far, I have managed to survive four months. The start was rocky but things are looking up with the holidays out of the way and a New Year fast approaching. With only eight months left, it looks like I’m going to make it after all.


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