In life I have come to many crossroads. Those times when looking to the left and right, it seems like there is nothing stretching before me but miles of concrete. At these times I ask myself just how did I get here? I look behind me at the miles that I’ve already covered and I can’t help asking... did I miss something?
Did I miss some illusive sign telling me, “Take this turn to reach prosperity?” “This way to Easy street.” “This way to your future dreams.” Was I daydreaming as I whizzed right past them or did they ever really exist?
I have reached a point in my life where I have to stop and consult my internal road map and I have to wonder if I am the only one in the world that could have ever been this lost. I find myself at some sort of in-between when it seemed, just a few miles before, I had been on the main interstate to something grander.
I remember when I was a teenager in high school, I thought I was going to have some great idea that would change the whole world. My voice was going to be an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. As soon as people heard my speeches, there would be thunderous applause and everyone would get in line and follow my lead to a bigger and brighter future, and it seemed for just a little while, a millisecond in time, they did.
Fresh out of high school I was in Americorp National Civilian Community Corps. I spent all my time building houses for Habitat, stomping through the savannahs to mark territory for nature preserves, and tutoring children in after school programs. On rare occasions I found the opportunity to give my speeches, speeches that were meant to inspire and uplift people, at peace rallies or unity conferences. I stood loud and let my voice be heard and the world was perfect… for just a little while. Then reality began to seep into my dream world. Piece by piece, turn by turn, bill by bill, I began to settle for things the teenage me would have never stood for.
When I graduated from the Corp words like rent, college tuition, and grocery money began to take over words like carefree and self-motivation. The truth was I had needs and all the self-motivation in the world wouldn’t pay my bills. The reality was I was paying for school on my own and I needed a real job. I sustained a little while with grants that allowed me to continue to go into schools and speak to kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. I figured if I couldn’t change the world through the adults, I would touch the youth, I mean I was in college to become a high school teacher anyway.
I wanted to teach High School History. I didn’t have a degree yet so I had to settle for the next best thing. I went into the schools with my job to give seminars to the teens. I wasn’t teaching what my heart desired to, but as long as I was in the schools it didn’t matter that I compromised what I was teaching… right? That’s what I told myself anyway.
Then my roommate quit her job and moved out. My grant ran out. There was no more overtime to be had. I found myself burnt out and at the end of my rope and as I sometimes do, I crashed. I stopped doing everything. Luckily I had a boyfriend willing to race in and save me. He rode in like a night in shinning armor to save me, to encourage me, to tell me that I was special and I could do anything I wanted to do and if I wanted to be a public speaker, I could do that.
Of course, that type of man is a keeper so I asked him to move in with me. After marrying him, we rode off into the glorious sunset to live happily ever after only, after ten years and one child, happily ever after morphed into another compromise. Getting wrapped up in marriage, child, and home I found that, once again, I’d strayed from the path. The divorce did not come as quickly as the wedding and left far more destruction in its wake.
Standing at yet another cross roads, consulting my map, I realize that I may seem crazy to some. I no longer write because I have some crazy notion I am going to change the whole world, I write because it changes my world. No one can see this map but me. I look behind me at the many twists and turns, and I look ahead knowing that there are many more to come. I take solace in the fact that the world will not come to a screeching halt just because I decided to change my mind. I have decided to get off this road and find another way and the future is now so much brighter for the knowledge I have gained. I will no longer stand for mediocrity. I will not give my dreams away and all though I may have to take an occasional detour, I will at least always be able to consult my map.