At 18, I had it all planned out. I was going to start college in the Honors School of Eastern Michigan University. That would be followed with a job as a middle school teacher. Then would come a husband, children, and of course the puppy and the house with the white picket fence. Yet, here I am, 20 years later, with no teaching certificate and no middle school students to teach. I did find the husband, and three amazing step-children, but they certainly didn't fall into my lap as I was graduating college like they were supposed to. And the dog? Well, would you let me count my cat who thinks he's a dog?
Does failure to achieve those goals make me a failure in life? At one time I would have answered, "yes." When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 and felt my dreams slipping away from me, I thought I was. I felt I had hit the ultimate
My dad has a silly saying he uses when we get lost (literally, not metaphorically), which is "wherever you go, there you are." Maybe he has known all along that life isn't about where you end up. It isn't about that plan you had as a kid or young adult. It isn't even about the goal you set yesterday. Rather it is about being happy and enjoying the "there you are." I have learned that sometimes what makes you happy today is not what you planned for yesterday or when you were 18.
Happy isn't achieving the dream itself, rather it is the hope it takes to dream in the first place. So, don't throw away the dreams and goals, just know when it is time to revisit them and see if they are truly what you still want. Take a look at where you have gone and see if you are ready to enjoy the "there you are." Don't be so busy cruising down the highway that you fail to notice the beauty of the scenic backroads.
As for me, my detour took me to the field of social work instead of teaching. That lead me to a job with NAMI; which I love. There were several speed bumps while searching for someone to spend my life with but by taking my time, I found the perfect family to be part of and, in the interim, I learned how to be independent and love myself. I followed my compass to the Chicago area when I was sure it was pointing toward Michigan and found the house that, while it doesn't have a white picket fence, makes me feel happy every time I pull in the driveway and remember it is mine. And as for the cat, well maybe he is just a reminder to keep my sense of humor.
Written by Nikki Rashes