Something hit me this week. Or last week. Or maybe last month. But some time in the very recent past, I guess it finally became real for me: I’m about to leave home for the first time ever to work at Disneyland for the remainder of the year.

It’s hard to identify all of the thoughts and feelings that have come from this experience, even before it’s begun. I only learned about the Disney College Program late last year, but when I did, it instantly became a permanent fixture in my mind, consuming more of my attention than I’d like to admit (considering that at the time I was a full time student preparing a recital.) Nights were spent binge watched DCP vlogs, class time was spent drawing up rough drafts of interview answers, and hidden Mickeys began mysteriously appearing in the margins of my class notes. I even began to have recurring dreams about living at Disneyland (not that I’m obsessed or anything, I mean, what?)

When applications dropped in January, I hadn’t really been planning to apply yet. But I saw the notification email and I thought… why not? I applied that evening, and completed the web based interview at midnight in a psychotic daze of high pitched squealing and frantically trying to use my laptop’s trackpad with super sweaty hands calmly and gracefully, and before I knew it, I had scheduled my phone interview for the following week.

“I’m so glad I’m not one of those people who over prepares for their phone interview,” I thought as I observed the nine typed, highlighted, and decorated note sheets scotch taped across my wall. I did use the notes, but mostly I spent the entirety of the interview pacing, jumping up and down, and laughing (Nervously? Maniacally? It’s hard to say.) Something must have worked, though, because exactly two weeks later, on February 20th, I woke up to the most exciting email of my life: my acceptance.

It is now less than a month until I check in. The past few months have been ultimately defined by what might be the most intense excitement and anticipation I have ever felt… but the whole thing still felt, somehow, fantastical. Surreal. Now, suddenly, it feels maybe even a little too real.

It’s hard for me to fathom what the rest of the year will be like. I anticipate euphoria, exhaustion, joy, stress, sleep deprivation, laughter, tears, and overstimulation. I anticipate making deep, lasting friendships and learning things about myself and my career goals that I can’t even imagine yet. I anticipate curling up in bed each night with sore, achy feet and waking up each morning bleary eyed and ready to make magic at my favorite place in the universe.

There are several harsh realities that I’ve been shoving away because they’re just too hard to think about. I’ll be leaving my twelve year old bunny, Gaia, who is disabled and whom I love very, very much. I don’t know for certain if he will still be here to greet me when I get home, and I still can’t think about the moment I’ll say goodbye to him without getting choked up. I still have one semester of school left, and in it I will have to prepare an entire senior recital (which is usually done over the course of a whole year.) Sometimes I fear that my anxiety and depression will get the best of me, even after I’ve come so far in treating them.

But, painful as they may be, these fears just solidify how important this journey will be for me. What an amazing opportunity I have been fortunate enough to receive. How incredibly overdue I am to open a new chapter in my life and, for the first time in years, stray from the path laid out for me and follow my own dreams.

And, when it comes down to it, I couldn’t be happier.

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