Decision we make

Her name is Livia. She is a couple years older than me. I was a freshman at college, she already had her BSc. We were sitting in my college dormitory room and planning my first Work & Travel experience in the grand United States of America. It has been my dream to travel since high school and Livia was offering me a job for the summer as an independent dealer of educational books in the States. It was not just selling ice cream on the beach or cleaning toilets in hotel rooms. I thought this is a wonderful chance to go off the beaten path again.

I attended the 8-year „gymnasium“ – the joined middle and high school — where my entire family graduated before me. My grandpa. Both my parents. My uncle. My older brother and my older sister. It was no question I should start my studies there when the time came. But then again; I am a middle child. Stubborn, self-confident, trained by the older siblings and taking care of the younger ones. After five years in the family alma mater, where I was often called „Ben junior“ after my legendary brother instead of my –then I thought unique- Julianna, I decided I want change. I needed Change. I wanted to continue in my studies 68 kilometers away from my hometown, at a Christian high school in Komárno. Where, for the matter of fact, I did not know anybody, and nobody knew me. I also craved independence — to live in a student dormitory, be away from my huge family. Even though I did not really know the meaning of that word. I believed those 68 kilometers, the unknown territory, distant and foreign people would do it, would make me independent. I clearly remember the moment when I told my father this idea which I presented naturally and as a settled matter. He was standing in my room by the window looking out to the street through the branches of the growing pine tree. I was sitting on my bed; knees bent, my back to the cool wall separating my room from my sister’s, looking at my father, him looking out the window.

„Is this you really want?“ – he asked me.

„Yes.“ — I said.

Though I might have sounded firm and confident I do remember I was a bit shaking.

„So be it.“ said my father, only now he looked at me.

My father is not a man of words. He never speaks much. He never asks me empty formulas like „how was your day?“ or „how do you do?“ He speaks through silence. His beard already grey and white. His unbelievably strong and thick hair too. His once sparking blue eyes gleaming with sadness, disappointment, and something else. That something else I could not decide – satisfaction or helplessness?

„I think you would go anyway, wouldn’t you?

I did not answer that question. At least I cannot remember it. I was the first person who broke the family tradition and graduated from a different high school than my predecessors. The first three months I hated it. I was homesick, I wanted to quit and go back to the previous school, to have everything as it was before. After a while I got used to it though – to the new classmates, to the dormitory regime, to the new teachers. Soon I became a student government representative, I made friends, got good grades (except math and physics), was the member of the volleyball team, organized the first students‘ ball ever in the new school, became member of the students’ theater group. It was that moment with my father looking out my window when I realized I can do anything I set my mind on.

Although this realization did not save me from horrible disappointments and failures. My first Work & Travel experience in the U.S. with Livia turned out an epic one. I was constantly failing in selling books, crying of homesickness on a daily basis. I remember Livia as a solid supporter. She was always cheerful, motivated and focused on the given task. After all, I came back earlier than the agreed date. Livia accepted my decision and let me go with a friendly hug in front of our breakfast-place in Boise, Idaho. After this I had a huge family debt to pay in the next year, I questioned every decision made, my self-confidence went down the slope, and I almost dropped out from college the next year because of depression.

I believe there are no good or bad decisions. But the decision itself. Failure and success are equal parts of it. These decisions that took me off the beaten path, the glamourous successes and the bone-cracking failures made me who I am today.

Like what you read? Give Julianna Gaál a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.