"You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, from yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you." -Lisa Kleypas
"Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving." -Emma Bombeck
In 2008, I faced a textbook case of quarter-life crisis-itis. My dream of becoming a writer in NYC was shattered after I spent three months interning in the publishing industry and didn't love it. Was it glamorous? Sort of. Was it meaningful? Not in the way I had hoped.
Ultimately, I decided to move back to my hometown of Portland, Oregon (free rent!) and "temped" with a variety of companies until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I spent time at a finance company, a small creative agency, and a nonprofit before ending up at my current employer--OHSU--in January 2010. What I appreciate about my job is that I've had the potential for growth, and my boss has been incredibly supportive of my extracurricular activities--from planning countless fundraising events to traveling to DC to review grants like I did earlier this week.
If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed that I've been a bit quieter than usual over the past few months. I've been super busy reviewing grants, planning bachelorette parties, and taking online classes, but I've also been doing some serious self reflection. I've been calling it quarter-life crisis: part two.
Last spring, I accomplished more in the realm of melanoma education and advocacy than I had ever hoped--I helped raise $40,000 for melanoma research and got to meet our governor who thanked me for sharing my story about melanoma and tanning beds.
When I started this blog, I admit, I had some selfish motivations: I still felt like I was the one who gave myself cancer and that I didn't deserve to be as "lucky" as I have been. Every time I log onto Facebook, I see posts from friends who are dealing with brain metastasis or who have lost a loved one to melanoma. It kills me to see this, especially when I'm still hearing so many people brush off skin cancer like it's no big deal. My motivation for blogging, for planning the Portland Melanoma Walk, and for sharing my story on as many public forums as possible, has been driven largely in part by good old-fashioned guilt. And, I'm actually very pleased to report, that at some point over the past six months or so, that guilt has finally lifted. Somehow, by serving this sort of self-imposed penance, I have come to terms with what happened to me, and I don't blame myself any more.
What does that mean? It's taken months for me to put this into words, and I'm still a little unsure. As I mentioned, I've been doing a lot of reflection on what my next steps should be in life. While I've wanted to go back to school to pursue a master's degree for a while, up until recently, I felt like there was something holding me back. I'm still not 100% certain what direction I want my life to take, but it may or may not involve a bit of a break from melanoma advocacy. Rest assured, I'm still organizing the Portland Melanoma Walk this spring (May 31, 2014 - save the date!), and I plan to continue blogging, but I don't want melanoma to get in the way of my life any more than it already has.
Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive of me throughout this journey. Several of you I've had a chance to meet with in person, but for those of you I only know "virtually," your kind words and support still mean more to me than you know.