In New York, I valued my time on the train. Commuting time is great for listening to music, reading a book, finishing last minute homework, people watching (don’t lie, I know you all do this) and, most importantly, reflecting. I’ve had some of my most profound realizations on the train and it’s all thanks to a plastic metro-card.
Not too long ago, if someone were to ask me where I would be in life right now, my last response would be taking a year off in Wisconsin. I’ve had many life aspirations that date back to my early childhood.
As a kid, I was involved in numerous activities. Dance class being one of them. It’s a good thing I looked cute in my costume because I was an awful dancer. Of course, I didn’t realize that until recent years when I watched old tapes of my recital. My mom told me that one time when she came to pick me up from dance class my instructor pulled her aside and told her with all sincerity “Your daughter may not be a dancer but she has one heck of an imagination” (which remains true to this day). And then there was baseball. I was in the second grade and the only girl on the team. To no ones surprise, I was not a star player. In fact you could usually find me in the outfield playing with sticks and the occasional rock.
With dance and baseball, I established that I am neither graceful artistically or athletically so I took up art lessons. I went to this place called Arts and Farts in Wisconsin one summer. We did all sorts of projects but that summer I had an awful cold and was too embarrassed to cough in front of the teacher. I held it in during the entire class but as soon I went outside, I began coughing like an old grandmother who had smoked for the entire duration of her life; I never set foot in that art place again.
In the third grade, my dad and I moved to an apartment around the corner from one of the oldest horses stables in Brooklyn. And that’s when it occurred to me, I was going to be a horseback rider. I thought long and hard about this and finally had a serious sit down with my dad and grandparents in which I proposed the idea of getting a part-time job in order to finance my future horse career. I was devastated when all they did was laugh uncontrollably.
Clearly things were not working in my favor in the real world so I did what anyone would do, I became a witch. I found a stick to summon as my wand and taped a flashlight to an old broom. This was going really well until I caught a glimpse of my reflection and, even at a young age, realized how pathetic I looked.
When I finally reached high school, my friends convinced me to join the soccer team. Unfortunately, I was that cliché kid you see in the movies who was always picked last for teams. We had a game on my birthday. The coach individually sent each girl into the game giving them each a little, motivational pep talk. “And where’s the birthday girl?” he asked smiling. I stood up. He called me over and said “You go out there and you have FUN!” and gave me a pat on the back. This was one of the only times I actually got to play in the game.
You’re probably wondering why I’ve decided to share all of these failed attempts throughout my life. And it’s because even though I am not a dancer, a witch, or even a soccer star, I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences. There are miscellaneous events that I decided to spare you on (like guitar lessons and the time I thought I was a lawyer when I saw the white house for the first time) as well as the events in my life that aren’t so easy to talk about. I’ve experienced loss, pain, self doubt, and heart break. I’ve witness things I wish I hadn’t and grew up a little faster than I would have liked but then again who hasn’t experienced some form of trauma in their life?
It’s not about what people endure in their life that makes them stand out but how they use these experiences to make them stronger and an overall better person for it. And lets face it, people who haven’t experienced any rough patches in their life are, to be honest, kind of boring. I would never wish pain on someone but sometimes we need to experience these emotions because they teach us to be appreciative and encourage us to constantly work on bettering ourselves.
I’ve shared these experiences because I can now look back on them and laugh. After all, what good does it do to remain bitter about things you no longer have control over. Being negative contributes nothing worth while to the world and more importantly, being negative is like taking a hammer and slowly chiseling away at your self worth.
Back in New York, I used to ride the train and fantasize about how I would go to a four year university that I absolutely loved, graduate, and then immediately land a job that I was unconditionally passionate about. This certainly wasn’t my story. I’ve shared bits and pieces about my first year of college and my recent experiences in Wisconsin but what I haven’t touched upon are the times I wasn’t smiling and carelessly drinking coffee. For a while, I was in tremendous denial about my college situation and constantly beat myself up for it. Talking about college was too painful for me and I avoided this subject at every cost. But I’ve come to terms with my unconventional story and I’m slowly starting to embrace it.
I’ve rambled a lot in this post but my point is that sometimes we don’t always get where we think we will the first time around. It’s the oldest one in the book and sometimes irritating to hear but it holds an empowering truth– never give up. Gayle Forman, an author from Brooklyn that I’ve recently been reading a lot, confessed that some of her early writing never got published or even received a second look over. But she goes on to say that she has no regrets about any of her writing pieces because the ones that weren’t successful were part of the process of leading her to the ones that were. And it’s kind of like that in life. I mean after all, I’m spending my Sunday writing a blog post in a coffeehouse when I thought I would be studying in a university library– but I’m not, and I’m okay with that.
I think that everyone has the potential to do well in life. You just need to find what makes you happy and do it. And if you want change, go out there and make it happen.
Make everyday count.