“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” ~ Tom Hanks as Jimmie Dugan in A League of Their Own.
Jimmie Dugan was talking about baseball, but some people think that baseball is a poetic metaphor for life…and I agree.
I don’t know if it is an American thing or a universal rule, but when I was growing up I somehow knew that there was a universal way in which life was “suppose” to happen. And it goes like this:
1. Graduate high school.
2. Go to college.
3. Start a career.
4. Get married.
5. Travel and enjoy married life.
6. Start a family.
Like I said, I don’t know who created this schedule. Perhaps Nora Ephron and Meg Ryan? Maybe it is a throw back to a more conservative time. Maybe it just one of those trends that popped up and never went out of style like the little black cocktail dress and pearls.
It doesn’t matter where it came from because for one reason or another, I grew up thinking that this was the path that I needed to take. And I was fairly certain that any person who didn’t follow this path was doomed to live a miserable, pathetic little life that Meg Ryan would never dream of playing in a romantic comedy.
But at 19, I found myself veering off the path that the book of life had dictated for me. At 19, I dropped out of college. Yep, I was that loser kid who graduated high school poised to take over the world with a scholarship, new car and all expenses paid only to throw it all away. And so began a very hard, long road.
I won’t go over everything that I endured as a young adult trying to figure out my way in the world, but here are some of the highlights:
1. I once spent two weeks eating off of a gift certificate that I won at work because I had no money for groceries.
2. I had my power turned off in the middle of summer in Arizona…which is basically the equivalent of strapping myself to a desert cactus naked. Painful does not begin to describe it.
3. Bills coming out my ass.
4. Feeling lonely and worthless more times than what I care to count, and having very few people to honestly talk to about my troubles.
5. And then I found this guy (my husband) and ended up having a baby…
And for many people, hearing that a girl struggling like me was going to have a family would be enough for some people to write me off as another shitty statistic in a world already burdened far too much by girls like me.
But I didn’t become a statistic. With support from family and my husband, I was able to do all this within 7 years…
1. Had a healthy baby at 21.
2. Went back to college and got my associates at 22.
3. Graduated college summa cum laude, with highest honors at 24.
4. Had another beautiful baby at 25.
5. At 26, I will graduate suma cum laude with my masters degree.
6. Figured out who I am.
What a difference time, determination and perseverance makes.
But I know that a lot of people who start life out the way I did do not end up where I am now. And I think it has a lot to do with that damn book of life.
There is no one right or wrong way to live…minus being a jackass. There is no road map to follow. There is not guarantee that if you do x, y and z you will end up living happy. But somehow, tons of people end up feeling the same way that I did. They think that if they don’t do x, y and z they will end up…no place.
I remember walking into college as an 18 year old freshman and having no clue who I was or what I wanted out of life. I just knew that I wanted to make my parents happy. I really wanted to make my parents proud and happy, and I thought that by following the book of life I would do just that. But I wasn’t happy. Not even a little bit.
It wasn’t my parent’s fault. They grew up with the same set of self imposed, book of life rules. They grew up believing that the secret to happiness could only be had by living life in a certain way. So it makes sense that they would want the same for me. But now that I know better from my own experience, I plan on doing better.
Yes, I would like my sons to have an easier start in life than I did, but truth be told, the easy life isn’t always so fun or right.
I did a lot of really stupid shit, and it probably cost me a shit load of money, grief and heartache. But I also had a lot of fun, and at the end of the day I wouldn’t change a single thing. And finding yourself, really truly finding out who you are at your core, is worth blazing a rocky trail instead of taking the easy path.
If you followed the book of life and your life ended up great, then I think that is great. But if you didn’t, if you are somewhere in between where you do and don’t want to be…then don’t give up. And don’t think you are a loser for not getting life “right” the way that society expected you to. And above all else, don’t listen to anybody who tells you that having a baby will prevent you from being able to do anything. Because in my opinion…
My kids are the reasons for my success and have never been excuses for my failures.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple Inc.
I hope everyone has a little bit of crazy in them.