The Road Not Taken
How often do you stop and think about the choices you’ve made in your life? I mean the big ones, not the small ones. We’ve all made a lot of choices in our lives, both large and small. Life is a never-ending series of choices, if you want to look at it that way. Some of the simple ones are just daily decisions of what to wear or what to eat, that don’t really impact our lives in a big way (ok, overall eating patterns do, but I’m talking about just the decision about what to eat for breakfast, etc, assuming you have normal eating habits).
What about the big decisions? Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if…? If you hadn’t broken up with your high school boyfriend, if you had gone to your first choice college, what would your life been like now? What about if you’d pursued one passion over another when it came to starting your career? Where might you be now?
We all have so many choices in our lives. So much time to take a different path if we so desire. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend in which I related a comment my father had made years ago. Sadly, my father passed away from lung cancer 3 1/2 years ago. During his illness, from dealing with all of the related medical issues, doctors, procedures, etc, I realized that I had a good understanding of that which goes into the field of medicine. In fact, at one point, one of his doctors asked me what my specialty was. My father used to tell his oncologist that when he got better he was going to send me to medical school. Now, for you to realize how amazing a statement this was, you have to understand a little bit about me. For most of my life, I always thought I was not good at math and science. As a “grown-up” I realize that I do have a good grasp of these subjects, and a good head for them. I have a degree in journalism and have coursework done toward an MBA. I was also probably around 37 at the time he said this. So the other day, I related this all to my friend, and he actually encouraged me to go back to school to become a doctor – only a 10 year commitment to more schooling. I asked how I would support my family during this time. Student loans, he suggested. Now, I was very flattered at this encouragement, but this is not the path that I am going to choose. Yes, there is a part of me that thinks it would be amazing to be a doctor – I find it so interesting. However, as I’ve said, I’m a single mom with an 8 and 10 year old. If I were to go back to school, assuming I could get the background undergrad courses taken as well as the MCATs during the next year, both of my children would be in or going into college by the time I was a full doctor. In addition to taking my concentration off my kids’ childhoods, it would also leave me with an incredible amount of debt in my early 50s, while I’m currently debt-free. I really don’t want to have my children inherit my student loan debt. (I paid off my undergrad loans years ago) But it was wonderful to feel that someone I admire so much thought it was such a good idea, as well as that my father thought so.
Sometimes we make decisions without realizing we are making them. Or without consciously realizing why we are making them. Years back I made such a decision, not realizing at the time I was even making one.
Occasionally, an opportunity comes along at a time in your life when you’re not ready to take it, for reasons that have nothing to do with the opportunity. Or you might not realize it as an opportunity because of other things going on in your life. At these times, it’s easy to miss seeing what is in front of you. Sometimes, you might go down the road of your life without ever realizing you missed a special chance. Then there are times where circumstances change and that same opportunity is in front of you again – are you going to recognize it for what it is this time?
I am at a very interesting, exciting and frightening crossroads of my life right now. I am changing careers at 42. I have to decide what I want to do with my life now that I’m grown up. I feel like, as with many people, I’ve already reinvented myself several times to date during my adult life. During the past year or so, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and was able to put myself back together after a painful, traumatic period. Recently, all of those pieces came together and I realized I was finally “whole” again – myself again. There’s nothing better than the feeling of falling in love – especially if you are falling back in love with life, with the possibilities and potentials that the future holds.
Coming back to my point above, I have recently done a lot of thinking and I realized that I had an opportunity years back and avoided it because I wasn’t ready for it. It was the wrong time in my life – I had just gotten divorced from my first husband. The idea of getting involved in something serious at the time was a foreign concept – I had just come out of an 11 year marriage – a 13 year relationship. I had 2 very young children and was embarking on life as a single mother. I had to see what that was and figure it out for myself. So I didn’t even recognize something great right in front of me. As I said, if we are not open to it, the right thing can come right in front of our faces and we can fail to see them for what they are.
So now I see what it was I ran away from last time, I chickened out on taking a chance and I never viewed it as such until I started thinking of it recently. I chickened out because it was everything I should have been looking for, but I wasn’t looking for it, so I didn’t see it right in front of me.
Now? Who knows? Was that blown chance five years ago never meant to be? Or may it come back around and this time I will be ready and waiting for it?
Something to think about. Can we change course and take the road not taken if it comes up in front of us again and this time we are paying attention to where we are going in our lives?
Live, love, laugh…it makes it worthwhile!