I circled “College Degree/Career Woman” on my life map long ago. The specifics were vague, but I had faith they’d become clear along the way.
Sure enough, after high school, I stepped onto a sure-fire route: "Full Scholarship in Chemical Engineering".
The path turned bumpy right away: tough classes in subjects that didn't interest me; distracting scenery - my parents' divorce, a jealous, unfaithful boyfriend, and non-college friends on separate paths; and on top of it all, a gray depression settling like a deep fog around my heart.
I got lost that first semester. Instead of class, I'd find myself perched on the Galveston seawall, munching Cheese-Its and staring past the waves to the horizon, my thoughts as scattered as the seagulls.
But re-focused and determined the next semester, I scrambled to the top. Still fired up from A's and B's, I veered onto a shortcut to make up for lost time: a summer semester of Physics ll, Calculus ll, and Linear Algebra Computer Programming.
Too much, too soon. I wasn't fit for the rough terrain. Frustration and doubts chipped my protective wall, and the fog returned.
I gave up. Dropped out. Got a job as a welder's helper and my own apartment. I thought being alone was the answer; I thought all I needed was a bit of space to sort things out. I thought I could go back to school on my own, dependent on no one but myself. Forge a different path.
Thirty years down that detour, here’s what I’ve learned:
- Being alone is great, even necessary at times, but having family nearby is better.
- Education is worth more than the cost of tuition.
- Never take a gift for granted.
- When depression casts its pall on your world…
- Play the opposite game: step out of yourself and do something for someone else.
- if you feel like hiding in a dark room, take a walk in the sunshine.
- If you feel like being alone, gather people around you.
- If you feel like frowning, smile.
- If the hill ahead of you seems too big, just concentrate on moving forward; celebrate the small victories. Better yet, get someone to help you climb.
- If the songs you're listening to, the news or stories you're reading, or the people surrounding you are pulling you down, take a break from them and fill your world with inspiring, uplifting music, stories, and people. There are plenty to be found - they're just hard to see in the fog.
- Appreciate the good things inside of you, but recognize the bad, and don't accept them. Think of the person you want to be, the kind of person you admire. Become that person. It won't happen overnight, but it's a good path to start on.
- Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. Miracle cures right there, for so many different problems, and at the very least, great ammunition to battle others.
- Pray, pray, pray.
My detour took me into some dark, scary places, but it evolved into a wonderful journey, filled with love - my husband, children, family, friends. But I regret the detour, regret that I gave up, gave in, so easily. I regret time wasted, opportunities missed.
My regrets propel me forward, keeping me moving, determined to reach the end of the detour. That life map is faded, but the circle is still there, and the specifics are getting clearer. Stay tuned.
This was my contribution to Red Writing Hood's prompt "Detour". Click HERE to read other contributions.