A story for another time, but my college boyfriend broke up with me. Twice. While I might still be a little resentful at myself for the blindsided reality of being dumped twice by the same guy, it lead to some of the more party driven days of life.
I’m a list maker. I make pro/con lists. I make to-do lists. I make grocery lists. I have spontaneity, but I enjoy being organized. An administrative achiever to my core, I like plans.
Then my senior year of college lead to the disintegration of said plans. One of the things that broke down the plans was the exit of said boyfriend. I grew up really believing that whomever (whoever? Does anyone actually know this grammar rule? English is so complicated, y’all) I was dating in college was who I would married. This is a pretty common ideal for those of us that grew up in the Southern, conservative states. When that didn’t happen, I really did wonder what I was going to do next. How my plans to attend grad school at Vanderbilt, become a counselor, get married. . . How this one guy saying “No thanks, boo” to me caused me to really examine if any of that was what I wanted.
It’s pretty nuts now, all these years, to see how those plans dissolving lead to the actual life I have now.
Ultimately, I scorched it all. I would put it back together two years later, but at the time I had no plans. I was terrified and exhilarated. Which lead to going out on a level I hadn’t done before. Which means “That’s Not My Name” – The Ting Tings was everywhere. It seemed that everywhere I went out to was playing this song. I’m probably being exaggerative, but I remember one night hearing it in every place I went.
Or maybe it was playing on my iPod the whole night and I never realized it. All likely scenarios.
In my ongoing search to figure out who I was or what I liked, I dated a guy from my hometown. Again, another story for another time. But it was a complicated, on/off relationship. Not complicated because I was terrible and he was stubborn. But complicated because we were both in transition – not sure of what was coming next or what the time table of life would bring.
One of the things that came out of me going back to my hometown on a regular basis, was that I was going out to clubs and bars. Disclaimer: I didn’t really do that in college. Sure, I went out. But this was different. I went out to party. I didn’t have any responsibilities in my hometown, while my college town had school, homework, organizations I belonged to and the job I had. In my hometown, none of that existed. Being over 21 and in my hometown was like catnip.
There was a time I remember that I was in the ‘off’ scenario with the guy I had been dating, but I knew our group of friends were all going out which included him. Naturally, as any 21 year old lady does, I dressed up. Did my hair, the whole nine. I remember thinking that I was young, single, skinny, pretty and deserved fun. I mean. I wasn’t completely wrong. Misguided, but not completely wrong.
That night, I danced so hard to this song – a song I had heard countless times. But I wanted to let go of whatever fear or doubt I had about what was to come. It was probably the tequila. No. It definitely was the tequila. But I felt bulletproof, happy and loved by myself.
As a girl that always played by the rules and had quiet rebellion, I wanted to see what a different life looked like. Was this the life I wanted? What did life look like after college without plans? It felt like everyone else had these life journeys and events planned. . . And I had tossed them all out. What I didn’t realize was everyone was unsure. With the closing of a big chapter of life, no one leaves without doubt. We chain ourselves to a destiny, without realizing we cut the chains whenever we want.
For me, I pulled out the bolt cutters after tequila, a night of dancing and pandering around like a newborn giraffe in heels. While it was fun, I knew my achieving type-A list maker was not cut out for it.
Anytime I hear this song, I think of that 21 year old girl. Aimless for the first time in her life, and enjoying it. I don’t experience that feeling much in life anymore, as I’m relatively settled into the routine of adulting/life. But that story in my life is a reminder that everyone isn’t sure. That the destiny I’m not sure about, it changes. You change it. You get to decide if you want to travel. You get to decide if you want to pursue another degree. You decide if you get to move. You.
So that’s what I did. I moved away. I traveled. I got a master’s. And I owe it all to The Ting Tings.
Well, The Ting Tings and tequila.