The “I did it my way” Award

In Japan, a couple of my friends made some poignant assessments of me that stuck in my head.

1. While we were all discussing my knack for strange things to constantly occur in my life, my friend Sean mused something to the effect of,“ it’s like you aren’t compatible….” To which I asked “not compatible with what?” And, in confused amusement, he finally answers “….with….everything…..else.”

Ha! I think that’s pretty accurate, actually.

2. While my friend Rebecca was explaining to her mother the reason why she ended up naked in a public bath that electrocuted her, she began with “well Dana is the kind of person that once she knows something exists, she has to try it….”

Again, pretty dead-on.

3. I can’t even remember what we were discussing but at some point Rebecca joked about me being bull-headed and I proudly announced that I did, in fact, earn a “I Did it My Way” superlative during my semester abroad in college. To which she, without hesitation, agreed, “of course you did.”

And I really did. After nearly four months living in Europe with a group from my University (detailed in the posts starting HERE), we had a little ceremony before heading back to the States where we all were given cute little awards describing traits that were seen in us throughout the semester.  And to my confusion and surprise, mine was called “I did it my way.”

Perhaps it was because my professor was just as bull-headed as me and at times, just as immature, which I pounced on. Perhaps it was my little stubborn stint of “finishing” my homework in order to go to Spain for the weekend (homework written in three different handwriting styles given that my friends sat in the floor and scribbled with me furiously while the cab was on its way to pick us up). Perhaps it was jokes I made, like when the professor left a little snarky note in our living area that said “there is no dish-washing fairy so wash your dishes,” and I later realized the name of the dish soap we had was “Fairy,” leaving me no other choice than to point out that there was, in fact, a dish-washing fairy….

Or perhaps it was because I ended up getting a grade below what I thought I deserved and I fought for so long with that professor about it that she actually hung up on me during our last phone conversation. In any case, after seeing various traits in other people, she saw in me – determination to go my own way.

But regardless of the reason I end up doing things “my way” – be it that I’m just being stubborn or because it just doesn’t occur to me to do things “normally” – I feel like it usually works out. But that can be difficult to explain to other people. Like everyone these days pushing bucket lists and "life coaches."

I feel like I’m constantly being pressured to tell people my “plans.” What do I want to do “next”? What are my “goals”? What’s my personal “development plan”?  I always end up sitting there looking back on how my life has “developed” thus far and the only way to describe it is how most people describe my “not-compatible-with-other-things” life in general: Random.

I ended up in my career because I was tired of being in small towns and my friend told me she spent a semester in D.C. – so I did that. Even though I knew nothing about D.C. or politics or cared. I just went on a whim in order to get to a big city.

I ended up in grad school because my ex-boyfriend wanted his Masters and didn’t want to go alone. So I did it too.

I ended up in a band because I got bored one day and started perusing Craigslist for some kind of creative outlet. Even though I'd never sang in public before outside of church or school choirs. 

I’ve “ended up” in a million different places that turned out great just because a door opened and I happened to be curious. I feel like I trip into things, rather than laying out plans and steps to get there. Like how my friend ended up a helicopter pilot because she fell off an elephant playing polo in Thailand and was air-evac’d to safety, making her think on the ride “huh, I bet I could fly one of these things….”

(I freaking love that story….)

But how do you explain ‘elephant polo accident-like events’ as your only “plan” for figuring out your future? “I’ll know it when I see it” also doesn’t seem to work when serious people ask what your ideal next step is.


So I end up stammering in general terms about wanting to “hone the skills I’ve developed” and “use my experiences to create world peace”...etc. etc. And in the end, I figure I’ll just do it my way, and see what happens. After all, I did win an award for that approach....