I think once you know why I moved to California it will be easier to understand why I am moving back. My entire life I’ve been a people pleaser. Most of my life it work out for me on the outside. I made friends easily, my parents didn’t have trouble with me, teachers liked me and honestly I did pretty well. When you do things “right” and get positive reinforcement for it, it becomes pretty easy to just keep doing what others want you to do especially when you enjoy pleasing others. This plan of mine worked perfectly throughout high school. I was the “golden child”; I got good grades, sang in chapel, got the lead roles in the play, had a cute boyfriend and coasted right on through. College was easy too because people judged me less so I could drink and party new as long as I got all A’s, received the best internships, founded a new student organization, spent time with my residents as an RA and worked part-time. Life looked pretty good because I could hide all the things I was going through personally and show everyone that I was doing great because I was perfect on paper. But off of paper was a different story.
My junior year of college I got a summer research assistantship through Boston University when I worked at Harvard University. At the time I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to do after I graduated but once I got this assistantship I thought I hit the jackpot. Ph.D. in clinical psychology here I come! Without taking into consideration that it is an extremely hard program to get into and on average less than 10% of people are accepted, I applied to top ten universities only and has no plan B. I wanted to do what everyone said I could. I wanted to be Dr. Castro simply so I could say I was Dr. Castro. I would imagine my parents smiling with pride and my then fiancé (now husband) praising my brilliance as I showed them my dream acceptance letter. I imagined it would feel like getting a letter from Hogwarts and finally realizing I’m a witch! But this never happened. I got rejection letter after rejection letter with only one waitlist. Not only had I failed but also everyone knew about it. This is a people pleasers worst nightmare. And it was. It absolutely broke me. Everything I worked so hard for, I felt, was for nothing. And I had no plan B. I was a few weeks from graduation and when people asked me what my plan was I honestly had nothing to say because I had no clue. Mind you, I wasn’t upset because my dream of becoming a psychologist was gone. I was upset because I place my worth and value in obtaining success. And the reason I needed success so badly was because I needed others to validate me and tell me that I was worthy and valuable as a person because I didn’t believe that I was. My whole life I struggled with not being enough. So when I didn’t get into grad school, instead of confronting it, I ran. Literally. I moved across the country; to the furthest place on the continental U.S. that I could go. I thought now people will see I have a plan, now they will think I’m doing something important. My sister moved to California four years ago and everyone thought it was the coolest thing so I’ll just do the same and everyone will forget about grad school and if they don’t I’ll be far enough not to even know or have to confront it. It was the best situation because I planned on moving anyways for grad school so from the outside it didn’t look like I was running away.
This past year has been like having my own little rehab. I’ve had ups ad I’ve had downs. But most of all I’ve grown. I’ve grown from a girl into a woman. Because I’m not physically around people like I was in Cleveland, I’ve learned how to find happiness, beauty and worth in myself. I no longer need other people’s approval of me. I had to unlearn a lot and battle so many things that I kept pushing down and tucking away to get to where I am now. It prepared me to be able to do what I want to do with my life. I’m solid enough in myself and who I’ve become to have the confidence to come back to Cleveland, my city, and start something new and better than ever. My husband and I are moving back home in August and beginning our own adventure of opening up a coffee shop boutique launching (hopefully, fingers crossed) next summer. I am beyond excited, and proud but most of all I’ve put in the work and I’m ready.