It’s amazing how seemingly insignificant moments in life can become catalysts for major change. At least that’s what I’ve been told. And it must be true because I’ve witnessed the phenomenon time and time again.
I tend to be the type of person who thinks I always know what path I’m walking when, in reality, I could stumble upon a fork in the road, trip over a tree root, or walk right into a dead end at any moment.
I think I can trace my first fork in the road back to my senior year of high school. I desperately wanted to go to NYU and pursue a theater/drama degree. (Does the “desperately” show my penchant for theatrics?) One look at the cost of tuition, though, and I found myself at UNCW the next August instead.
It wasn’t a bad place to be, but for some reason at the end of my freshman year I decided that as much as I loved acting, I didn’t have what it took to actually be an actress. I can’t pinpoint the particular tree root in the road which caused this loss of faith, but I’m sure there was one.
I switched majors. To Criminal Justice. I thought I’d go to law school and maybe be a criminal attorney, a prosecutor or public defender (I always went back and forth on which side of the court I wanted to be on). I worked hard, got good grades, and took the LSAT. I applied to four different schools, confident that my 3.97 overall GPA and 4.0 major GPA would earn acceptance. Only, they didn’t.
Facing a dead end for what felt like the first time in my life, I decided to take some time off. I moved home with my parents and waited tables to save money. I was reading Pride and Prejudice for the twentieth-or-so time and realized I should get an English degree.
Of course! I’d always loved to read. Why hadn’t I thought about it before? The fact that I didn’t take a single English course in undergrad didn’t discourage me from this new path on the road.
So I packed up and moved to Raleigh, enrolling in two graduate level courses in English Literature as a Lifelong Education student. I loved every second of it. But I hit another dead end. The semester came to a close and I couldn’t afford all the costs associated with applying to and continuing a graduate program.
Instead, I moved back home again and tried to kickstart another new career. I landed an internship with a wedding consultant. I know, I sound like I have multiple personalities, right?
After six months, the consultant I was assisting announced that she and her family were moving, but she knew of someone I could work with. I switched companies and began taking on my own clients. Yes! Great! I thought I finally found my career.
And maybe I did. I don’t know. I’m still working weddings, but I don’t have enough clients to do it full time.
Being a single girl who is constantly surrounded by wedding bliss isn’t as difficult as I expected it to be. In fact, I love watching the happy couples I work with pledge to spend their lives together. It’s amazing to be a part of that kind of love. At least, it was until…
My younger sister got engaged.
I knew it was coming. Our whole family knew it was coming. But it still felt like my feet got tangled up in a huge tree root, sending me face first into the dirt and gravel. Younger sisters aren’t supposed to get married first.
But I handled it. What else could I do? And I really was happy for her. She choose a great guy who really loves her, how could I deny her that? When she asked questions about planning or etiquette, I was excited and pleased to lend my expertise.
It was the constant reminders from my mother that drove me to tears on more than one occasion, though. Poor Mom! She didn’t know, how could she, how much it hurt to be reminded every day that I WAS NOT getting married. And not only that I wasn’t getting married, but that I probably wouldn’t be for a very long time.
So, one evening, after listening to her complain for the millioneth time about not being able to give my sister more money for the wedding, I decided I needed to do something to take control of the feelings of desperation surging through me.
It was another fork in the road.
On that day, I picked up a pen. And began to write.