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February 05, 2009

Choices

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.  It's mostly been driven by some, let's say "less than ideal" situations some close family members have gotten themselves into.  It's made me do some serious soul searching of my own.  Some of it has been therapeutic, all things considered.  So I thought in my personal therapy, I'd write some of what's been on my mind.

I've made my share of mistakes and bad decisions in my life.  That's just part of growing up.  I've also had some pretty shitty things happen to me which were out of my control.  The combination of what was in my control and what wasn't gave me a perspective that drove my goals.  It lit a fire under my butt that I knew nothing was going to come of my life other than what I made of it.  So going up against the odds stacked against me, I went for it.

It is often difficult to truly explain to another how hard you struggle.  The reason I can't stand the song "Brown Eyed Girl" is not because my eyes are not brown.  It is because I lived in a dorm my first year of college where I was one of the VERY FEW working to put themselves through school.  The spoiled sorority girls on my floor (not an insult to sororites in general) would hover in the hallways and brag about how their parents were gonna "kill them" for their outrageous phone bill.  Or how they couldn't wait for their spring break trip to Cancun.  All the while, they would hit repeat on the CD player and sing, at the top of their lungs no less, "Brown Eyed Girl."  It almost drove me insane.  There I was, trying to get some much needed sleep from working full time while also going to school full time to PAY MY OWN FRICKING WAY, and I had to listen to that.  How I survived it without punching them in the face will always amaze me.

I knew I'd probably be in the minority in that situation going to that particular college, and that was the decision I made.  In the end, it turned out to be a wonderful situation even with all of the hardships it entailed.  I met so many lifelong friends, not least importantly, my husband.  I fought through it all, and I became a stronger person as a result.  It's hard to describe the sleep deprivation from working so many hours and doing so much homework, let alone trying to have a social life.  Somehow, it all worked out exactly how it was meant to, and I wouldn't change a minute of it.

My first car?  Bought in cash after working two full time jobs an entire summer.  Insurance as a teenager?  Yeah, that was most of my wages.  First job out of college?  It sucked.  I didn't go through all that debt and struggle to be someone's assistant (not that there is anything AT ALL wrong with that job, I just wanted more - and needed to make more with my student loan debt).  Decided it was time to reach higher and went back to school.  My student loans are still with me today, and will be for a while longer.  The first house I ever lived in was purchased by my husband and I.  Our wedding, the wedding of our dreams (if you were there, you know it was by no means extravagant), was paid for by us on our measely wages.  Feeling ready for kids?  Oh, that can't be easy either.  Heartache and OMG what hell later, guess what...you're going to have triplets!  No family nearby, two working parents (and had to stay that way at that point, 3 babies are expensive!) but we got through 7 years and counting now.  Different jobs, layoffs, health problems, another baby, yet here we are still going strong.

Let's face it: life is hard, parenting is hard, it's a lot of work some days just to smile.  But I'm constantly reminded by something I kept hearing long ago...10% of life is what happens to you, the other 90% is how you choose to deal with it.  We can all have our bad days where that 10% feels like 100%.  But in order to stay sane, most days, it has to be more of a choice and an effort.  Shit happens every day.  Some days, the world collapses and you feel like you are the butt of a practical joke.  Sometimes those days turn into weeks and you are stuck in a really bad rut.  In those cases, I always try to find a way to shake it off.  Find the humor in a crappy situation.  I hear the comment "I don't know how you do it" so often.  If I am making this look easy, I am honored.  It's my life.  I do it because I love my husband, my kids, my family, my friends...my whole life.  It's very hard for me, too.  But it's my life, I love it, and it takes a lot of worthwhile work.

It helps if you and your closest person are also on that same wavelength.  You won't always see eye to eye - some days nowhere even remotely close.  Once again, I believe it's choice.  Days where we aren't getting along, I can (usually) control myself enough to bite my tongue.  I believe Aaron does the same for me.  We get through those sour patches and do not hold grudges.  We find ourselves back to being best friends and able to navigate the challenges of our life together.  Neither one of us is perfect, but together and through our choices, we keep each other on track.  Personally, I believed early on that there was something different in my relationship with Aaron, which is why saying "I do" was so easy.  In saying this, I do understand that some people are just simply incompatible.  Some relationships can work; others cannot.

Do I have some point to this entire dissertation?  Only that I think life is more choice than chance.  Life is going to hit you, some good things, some pretty horrible.  Some things you can change, some you cannot.  What makes your character is how you deal with it, and how you learn.  The only real mistake is the one where you learned nothing.  There is no substitute for experience.  I'm not trying to sound preachy by any means, I'm just rambling out some stuff going through my head.

I am worried for some of my family members, but I know they make their own choices too, and it's their lives.  They will find a way, and hopefully things turn out on the positive side.  They have to find their own way just as we all do.  I just hope they make an effort to do something...at least to be happy.  And I will keep reminding myself that ultimately they are their choices to make, not mine.  Even when they make bad choices, I'll still be there for them.

The choices you make are your own (just please, pretty please, LEARN from them).

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