After a lovely, relaxing weekend with girlfriends in Chicago, I came home to a letter politely telling me I didn't get into grad school at the art institute. Curses! Disappointment abounded. Now I'm going to try to keep this lighthearted for the sake of Sparkle, Sparkle, but it was a pretty sad moment. Now it's only a few days after the fact, and my mind is rapidly formulating various "Plan B's." So many options now that my preferred path is not available. The problem with Plan B, is that it generally doesn't suit a Type A. Us oldest children like our letters to match up, you see.
So I've been thinking about the concept of Plan B, both in what it means literally for what I'll be doing in the next year and more abstractly for what it signifies in my life. All through high school and even college, I have expected the best from myself, and usually gotten it. (Academically speaking at least.) Now I'm facing a new arena where I no longer stand out quite so brightly as I used to. The pool has gotten larger and more vibrant, and it's quite difficult to shine in that sort of field. So myself and many others like me revert to our Plan B's. For me, it's easy to slump into the idea that Plan B means failure, that I didn't get what I really wanted. Somehow I must not have worked hard enough, or made the right use of my time, or something like that. For a Type A, Plan B is a little embarrassing.
But it shouldn't be that way! There shouldn't be a feeling of shame when the initial dream doesn't pan out. I recently heard that UCLA received 78,000 applications for next year's freshman class. 78,000! Think how many Plan B's come out of that number! And I'm sure many schools (undergrad/grad/med/etc) are facing the same issue. That leaves a LOT of people out there who are working on Plan B. Including myself. The hard part is getting excited about Plan B and turning it into your new Plan A.
When I don't get what I want, I get upset. That makes me sound like a spoiled brat, but I think it's human instinct to feel disappointment. How do I shake that feeling of missing out and embrace the alternative opportunities? Well, I can't tell you, because I don't fully know. However, I suspect it has something to do with rolling with the punches and making lemonade out of lemons. Yes, the old cliches come back to haunt us. When life gives you Plan B in a crumply brown paper sack, we have to keep our chins up and re-wrap Plan B in a cute gift box with a flouncy bow. Just because it doesn't look nice on the outside at first doesn't mean it can't be re-worked and re-decorated to be absolutely gorgeous. It's all a matter of perception. Suddenly, I'd much rather have the nice gift box because I just know there must be something fantastic inside. All of a sudden, voila! New Plan A.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for nice gift wrapping and pretty things, but I think my metaphor works. And I know there will be hard days where I wish I was somewhere else. But for now I'm going to mash all of my catch phrases together and make lemonade punch, which actually sounds quite delicious. Exact recipe to come, once I figure out the whole "life" thing.