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Contemplating New Beginnings

The last several weeks have truly been a whirlwind of endings and beginnings, both of minor and major things in my life. It is overly cliche to say that with endings come new beginnings, but the reality is that it is cliche because it is true.

I have never been good at accepting the endings of things–I think because one too many things have ended prematurely in my life. For so long the things I wanted to continue–hobbies, friendships, experiences–ended outside of my control, and the things I wanted to end as soon as possible–mainly being chronically ill–continued. It wasn’t until a few years ago that the things that were ending and beginning in my life were things I was choosing.

After a year or two of practicing letting go of things and learning to accept the start of new things, I finally feel like I enjoy starting something new. Of course transitions are still hard, but at this point in my life I am relishing each new stage and experience–even if that means a previous chapter in my life ending.

Classroom at Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo

Classroom at Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo

The reason I am thinking about new beginnings now in particular is because over the last month or two I have watched as many of my friends have graduated college. I am sad to see some of them move on to things in places where it will be difficult to meet them again, and I regret not taking more time to spend with many of my friends while we were still in the same area.

But most of all I look at the people I know who have graduated, and I am surprised. I talk to them and realize they didn’t think of their future lives past graduating college; that they were so focused on getting their homework done that they didn’t think about getting a job; that they assumed they would be able to “figure it out” after all their classes were over. (Of course I do have friends who have their proverbial shit together, and to those friends, I applaud you).

How did that happen? How did you go through four years of college at a wonderful school learning a multitude of things and end up with no plan? How did you end up spending the summer after graduating living in your parents basement, sleeping in until 1pm and checking wanted ads in the newspaper as you marathon watch Breaking Bad on Netflix?

These people–be they acquaintances I roll my eyes at or legitimate friends who make me want to bang my head against a wall–got all the way through their undergrad career without considering that the end of college is not just an end, it is a very important beginning. In my mind, celebrating your graduation and receiving your diploma is not simply to show congratulations for getting though college, it is to mark the passage into the next stage in your life. It is a moment of transition from an end to a beginning.

So how is it that so many people reach the top of the mountain that is graduating college, and then step off the edge before realizing there isn’t a bridge? How on earth do you not plan ahead for something like that?

So as I contemplate new beginnings, particularly the one that will come one year from now when I graduate from college, I know that I need a plan.

I know life doesn’t always–or ever–go the way you want it to. It is not good to have a single, rigid path that you intend to follow, but I think it is good to have options and ideas that could potentially lead down several different paths.

This very long and rambling introduction now leads me to the main point of this post. In consideration of my future and a possible path that I might want to explore, I took a risk and made an appointment to meet with someone at Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo last weekend.

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I am still not sure what I want from my life, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I would truly regret not seeing if my interest in pastry was more than a fleeting hobby. And after researching schools and options all over the world, I narrowed down my choices and realized that Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo would meet many goals for pursuing possible future careers–not only is it a pastry school that would give me a diploma which would be received with high regard world wide, it would only take three months, it is in Japan, there are courses offered with start dates throughout the year, and the school is multilingual.

Even though it is something I had been thinking about for months, and something I would google in the wee hours of the morning whenever I couldn’t sleep, I was surprised when I received a response within hours of my inquiry about an appointment, and within the day I had something scheduled. After trying on several different outfits and changing purses and shoes many times, I set off on Saturday to meet with the woman in charge of international students among other things at Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo.

The appointment in and of itself was not exactly a new beginning, but it represented the potential to become a very important new beginning if all went well.

Naturally, I was nervous out of my mind.

And…everything went perfectly. Seriously, there was not a single thing I would have changed from the moment I stepped through the doors of the school. The area of Tokyo is beautiful, the cafe on the main floor is charming, the students seemed diligent and friendly, the chefs were nice to me even though I don’t speak French and some of them didn’t speak English, people kept giving me free pastries and breads they had just made, the facility is stunning…I could go on forever.

After two hours of talking and touring and asking questions, I left with great confidence. Whether I decide to go down this path or not, even just standing in that building my imagination was off and running, thinking of all the new possibilities I hadn’t thought of before that would open up to me if I applied to this school–the new people I would meet, the new opportunities I would have, the new experiences I could receive.

I don’t know that I want to be a pastry chef, or even if I would want to continue pursuing pastry after going to school and seeking such a degree. But I do think that this is a beginning that could lead to many other new beginnings in my future. And whether that future has anything to do with food or not, I want to choose a future that has many bright and shinning possibilities in it–not one that leads to a dead end as early as age 22.

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