Today I finally graduate from college with my business degree and as milestones like this in your life may do, it has me reflecting on what is next but also looking back on my life. I decided as a graduation present to myself, I would take the week after graduation off from work as I figured after four months of full-time classes and working, I could use a break. So yesterday when I left work, the sun was out, the weather warm and it was a gorgeous late afternoon so I opened up my truck’s sunroof and played some of my favorite music. It was the perfect way to start my week of vacation.
As I was driving a song came on that I first heard when I was 19 so it took me back in time a bit, well actually to 1989 which is when this particular song was released. My playlists are eclectic with songs ranging rom the 80’s to present day and every sort of genre so they can evoke all sorts of emotions and memories. I remembered when I was around 17 or 18 that my goals in life were to go to college, get my degree, start a business or have a great career, buy a nice brick two-story home on some land in the country, drive nice vehicles, be able to buy nice clothes, travel a bit and not have to worry about money so much. Then it dawned on me that I was driving the nice vehicle home to the two-story brick (partially) nice house on some land in the country and all the rest applied.
Then as if all the puzzle pieces clicked together, I saw the big picture. College was the last piece of the puzzle of my dreams I had when I was a teenager getting ready to start my adult life. While it wasn’t the direction or the exact path I had imagined, I had eventually, twenty odd years later than expected, reached my goals. Life had just gone its own direction with my choices (good and bad) and I had just arrived at a different time, in a different way. My college degree took me ten years of on and off again online classes, basically one or two classes at a time until this semester when I just hammered out the last four I needed. I have given up on college 50 times at least. Then my stubborn self returned not able to completely give up. Going back to college as an older adult is hard since you have 100 other things you are now responsible for and the classes are really geared for much younger people.
I owned my businesses in my twenties before I had finished college degree. Actually I had three small businesses though they dissolved when I went through my first divorce. But I still started and ran my own businesses which were all successful. In hind sight, I should probably have kept them going but my marriage had kicked the sh*t out of me and I wanted to return to my hometown and live close to my mom. To make a long story short, I eventually created the life I wanted with multiple bumps and wrong turns along the way. It happened, but not quite how I saw it in my mind but I still achieved my goals. I just had to open my mind and realize that I had actually done this.
Growing up pretty poor, I wanted to not worry about money and buy the things such as nice clothes rather than thrift or bargain bin type of clothing. I can buy whatever I want (within reason) now. I have a huge walk in closet full of well-made and pretty clothes. I drive a nice truck that cost almost as much as my first house (seems insane when I think about it). I have money in the bank, I make a good living and together with my husband’s income, we live a very wonderful and blessed life. We have a budget we stick by but there is plenty of wiggle room for extras. We can go away for a weekend, stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel, get room service, go out for a nice dinner and never bat an eye. Not a lot of people have the resources to do that. Of course we worked for it, no one dropped it in our lap. This is after years of hard work especially my husband who has moved up in his field by leaps and bounds and an incredible amount of stress, time and training.
So as I was sitting at a stop sign, I turned my face up to the sun coming through the sun roof of my truck and felt its warmth and couldn’t help but smile. Not only had I achieve all I set out to do, I had done even more. When I was 18, I had no intention of getting married and having kids for a plethora of reasons. Then I met my first husband and ended up with three beautiful and amazing daughters who are my life (and three marriages). While my mom isn’t here to see me graduate like I had hoped, I get to share this milestone with my daughters which I couldn’t imagine my life without. They are my greatest accomplishment and my greatest joy (and aggravation at times – :-).
While my life didn’t go in the direction I expected or had dreamt about, I did end up where I wanted to be and my life turned out even better than I could have dreamt anyway. Through the crazy twists and turns, bad decisions, tragedies and the like, I still was able to do what I set out to achieve when I was 18. If I had held on to my rigid idea of you finish college right after high school, get that job or start that business, etc. as I had in my mind, I would not have recognized that I had actually achieved my dreams, just on another path and not quite exactly as planned. It simply took me opening up my mind and changing my stiff attitude that I had failed because I hadn’t done it exactly as I thought I would. Sometimes I am inflexible when I get something stuck in my brain. But life requires you to be able to adapt, to change, to dodge and weave as things are thrown in your direction.
No matter how well laid out your plans for your dreams and life may be, your path may change and you will go a longer way around to get there. Essentially, enjoy every day, enjoy the journey and don’t give up. If you keep reaching even when your goals seem impossible, you will most likely arrive there though the reality will be different than it looked in the brochure you saw years ago.
One day the puzzle pieces will fit and you will see a rich tapestry of your life that you are right where you were meant to be.