I received a quote today...
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
— Flora Whittemore
and it made me stop and think about all of the choices in our lives, big and small, and how they define us and bring us to where we are. It's hard to imagine forward about how so many choices will change the course of your life. And how many ways these choices become interconnected to create the person you are.
From the relationships we keep, create or end to the people and places that move through our lives, each of them leaves a mark upon us.
There are three large defining moments in my life that I look back to and see how my life could have been totally different. The first was my choice of college. I had applied to a large number of schools (I was doing a project as well as applying) and had a number of options. I had a scholarship to the college I ultimately went to, which also happened to be one a number of people I knew went to. I often think how I would have met totally new people, lived in a radically different city or even how this difference would have changed my career, if I'd gone to another school. I don't regret where I am now but I do wish that I would have branched out and gone for less safe choice.
A few years out of school I was very very unhappy. I was unhappy with my life, my job, my living situation, etc. I remember being on my 22nd birthday; I was in another country with my family and I was crying my heart out in the middle of a public park with my Dad trying to console me. I don't get that upset very often, but I felt lost and had no idea how to fix my life. For me the lack of a plan and options was the worst part.
To distract myself I did a lot of volunteer work at a zoo. I mean ALOT - 500 hours in less than 2 years. I love animals and it was good to be out of the house and outside of myself. This time cemented my belief and support for always getting involved and doing volunteer work. But it also got me a job opportunity.
At the same time I had been applying for jobs in my field. The same week I got a job offer from the zoo I got an offer in marketing that was a big jump from where I was. That may have been one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Do I take the lower paying job at the zoo or the higher paying job in business. I ended up taking a holistic look at where I was and took the job in business. It enabled me to move to the next phase in my adult life.
Sounds like sort of a dispassionate decision, but less than a year in working at this job I was on a business trip and all of the right doors and details and stars aligned to create the moment where my husband and I met. If one of the details had changed in any way, we never would have met.
I know this to be true.
The other big change in the time continuum was deciding where to live. I knew I didn't want to stay in Florida and after I got married we debated several places. In visiting all of the colleges when I was applying so long ago, I had visited central North Carolina. A brief visit of two days. But I fell in love with it. And now many a year later, I got a job offer and we moved. I had not visited since that first visit and my husband had never been at all. But we moved. Made the big risk. Opened the second door to the right and stepped through.
I know this is a little abstract for this blog, but this philosophy is what I'm about - take a risk, try something daring, be willing to make a mistake and possibly regret it.
Luck and love (and great shoes) can't find you if you aren't out there.
P.S. Photos courtesy of Aradan, Asseenintv, Bleachpuppy, El Contador, and Grabow on Flickr