Done.

Two McLaughlins, Two architects
It was one of those studying weekends, when I had been sitting on the couch all day, reading about flooring and masonry and countless other building materials...  I went upstairs to bed, and then just lay there.  I should be asleep, it was way past my bedtime, but I just couldn't fall asleep.  I wasn't worried or anxious, so I just pulled out a fashion magazine and started reading to try to drift off.

But this had the opposite effect; instead of drifting off, I was getting super inspired by these glossy pages.  I hadn't read something so exciting in so long (textbooks about building materials and HVAC systems don't exactly stimulate the nerves), and suddenly my mind was going a mile a minute.  I wanted to buy every outfit I saw, because I can toooottttally afford $600 pants and $2,000 bags, obvs.  Then I was dreaming of the amazing Instagram outfits I would start posting.  And speaking of Instagram, I wanted to get serious about the side account I'd started with all travel pictures (shameless plug- @introverted.explorer).  And speaking of travel, as soon as my tests were done, I wanted to be jetting off to a new place every weekend.  Who cares about sleep?!  I wanted to go to all the cities, and see all my friends- Denver, Seattle, Austin, Portland, Boston...  And let's go explore outside of NYC- small towns on the Hudson River, and the Hamptons, and Montauk.  Let's go in the winter and have the beach to ourselves!  Eric will take a picture of me with my perfectly undone hair waving in the breeze, and I'll be in a maxi dress that has just caught the wind, and I'll be holding a bright scarf to be a pop of color on the otherwise unsaturated winter landscape...  And then Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Cape Town, Marrakesh...

I had big dreams.  Like, capital letter Big Dreams.  That's not a sustainable lifestyle for me, not yet at least, but it's where my mind wandered when I needed an escape from my very boring and unremarkable day of studying.  When relegated to my couch, I dreamed of the world.  I was signed up for my last two tests already, and if I passed both, I knew exactly what day I would find out that I was an official architect.  After a little under 1.5 years of studying and taking tests, I had an end date in sight.  It felt like the day my life could begin again, if all went well.  The day I could finally make plans again, and not wonder if it was a weekend I should be studying instead.  I imagined the day- who I would tell first, how I would act at work, if I would even go to work...  I'm telling you, fantasizing about that day was the most exciting thing for me, and yet, for everyone else, it would just be a random Thursday in October.  For me, it was the day those Big Dreams could actually maybe start to happen.  Ok, maybe I wouldn't become an Instagram fashion star, or travel the world before December, but I cooould, and that made all the difference.

It also meant I could get back into blogging again, if I wanted to.  So many decisions, you guys!  I'd have time to sort through the photos I took in Colombia and Hawaii, and share them.  And I could reorganize and redecorate my apartment, and really take the time to do the things I'd been putting off for so long.  Basic cleaning has to be maintained, but clearing out drawers to clean the insides of the drawers themselves?  How I longed to do boring stuff like this!  How I wished for the time to do those things I'd been putting off, no matter how trivial.
Dinner and wine that evening, with my parents to celebrate!
Well you guys, it's finally true.  I will have time to do those things, Big and small, because I found out I passed my exam.  I didn't realize how much of a weight that was on me until it was lifted.  My life feels like my life again.  I feel like I have choices again, and the opportunity to do what I want to do.  I am so beyond excited about it.  I've already enjoyed a stress-free weekend in NYC, and a quick getaway to Kentucky to tour bourbon distilleries.  I've reveled in making last minute plans, and not worrying about the time I was losing for studying.  In that regard, I still haven't had time for blogging and editing those pictures I've wanted to, but I think finally getting to see some friends and family has been worth it.
Gorgeous bouquet from Dad
Of course I felt like stopping sometimes, getting through 7 big tests seems insurmountable in the beginning.  And once passing one, I had the fire to keep going, but 6 more still seems pretty unattainable.  But my family understood and left me alone mostly while I was studying.  Eric respected my need to study on the weekends, and I'm sorry to say that our distance relationship was that much tougher because I was studying during the time we would usually be seeing each other.  It meant a distraction-free weekend, but it also meant I felt like a hermit.  Sorry to those of you I wasn't able to see because "ugh, I'm studying" was my text response.  But let's hang out now!!
Roses from Eric, Purple assortment from Dad
And I know the test format is about to change, but if any of my architecture friends have questions, I'd love to pass along the knowledge friends passed along to me.  Let me know if I can help!

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