On baby steps.

Dear Coquette,

Coquette, I’m coming to you because no one — not my guidance counselors, not my relatives, not my friends — has said anything that has helped me at all. 

I live in a very small town in Texas, a kind of cultural wasteland. I whine a lot, but there are some good people here. I just don’t belong in this place. I’m not country, I’m definitely not religious, and I cannot live in such a vacuum for the rest of my life. I’ve always known this, but the time is coming to decide where I’m going to go and what I’m going to do. I want to go to college; I always have. I love learning, however corny or whatever that sounds. But I also love to experience. Traveling has always been something I love to do. 

But I don’t know how to fit this all into what I’m going to do when I graduate. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Music has been the only passion I’ve ever had, but just listening to it, and critiquing my friends’ bands. I don’t know what kind of career I could have with that or if I could ever pull it off. I want to live in New York or Chicago or Seattle or Los Angeles or somewhere fascinating, but all the colleges out-of-state will swallow me in debt, and the only way I’d want to incur such debt is if I was going to do something that I’d make a lot of money in, and there’s no guarantee I will if I go the music route. And that’s just settling tuition. I’ll be supporting myself because we don’t have a lot of money, so I’d have to be working through college too. I honestly just don’t have any answers right now. Austin, Texas, is an amazing city but I want more. Maybe I’m just being a whining high school girl, but I can’t put anything together. 

Sweetheart, please just go to Austin. You have to trust me on this. You are a teenager with a high school education and no support network outside of your small town in Texas. You simply are not ready for New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Those cities will eat you alive if you wander into them alone, wide-eyed and without a plan.

Enroll at the University of Texas. Pay in-state tuition and get financial aid. Spend the next few years working part-time and getting a degree in whatever gets you off. Try your hand at the local music scene and learn how the industry works before you make any decisions about a career.

You don’t have to have anything figured out yet, and not to spoil the surprise, but there are no answers. There are only lessons, ones that you should learn gradually.

There will be plenty of time for you to move to a metropolis, and in the meantime, Austin is a fantastic place to dip your toes into adulthood. Again, trust me. Once you hit that city, you’re gonna find yourself surrounded by bright, interesting people who think like you do, and you’re gonna love it.

Baby steps, girl. You’ll get there.


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