When that happens, our only choices are to get mad or to laugh at ourselves.
I choose to laugh.
I laugh a lot.
I have to. If I didn’t, I’d constantly be mad.
But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t say and do things differently if I could turn back time, or at a minimum, give just one piece of advice to the young woman I once was – a young woman with a college degree in her hand and ridiculous ideas about life in her head.
If I could give that advice, I know exactly what I’d say.
“Don’t make plans without the expectation they should sometimes be broken.”
That’s it. Those words might seem trite, but after spending nearly 27 years as an official adult, they are extremely meaningful. They would have saved me from hours of worrying that I hadn’t lived up to my own expectations and have greatly expedited my understanding that life generally happens as life is supposed to happen. Sometimes our missteps are our greatest teachers and sometimes they lead us in a direction we would never have chosen when left to our own devices.
For example, just over two years ago I wrote a blog about how I was leaving the nonprofit world. I had worked for nonprofit organizations for nearly 20 years and was feeling both frustrated and under appreciated. I wasn’t happy with how decisions were being made and felt I had to spread my wings.
I may have spread my wings, but I certainly didn’t soar. In fact, I flapped around for over a year until finally landed exactly where I belong – in a nonprofit organization.
I can’t say my current job is easy. It’s not. In fact, it’s hectic, demanding and challenging. I also have some of the same complaints I had over two years ago regarding how others don’t appreciate the skills, education and competence that are required to work in a social service organization.
Yet I couldn’t be happier.
Sometimes experiencing where we don’t belong is exactly what we need to recognize where we truly do belong.
And sometimes, not getting what we want is exactly what we need to recognize that God gave us a specific set of skills and gifts for a reason. That reason generally isn’t to continue down the path we want but instead it is to make the world a better place in our own unique way.
As I think back to the 22 year-old woman I once was, I know I had a strong sense of where I wanted to go in life. That makes me laugh, but that laugh is full of joy.
Most of the plans I made have been shattered, but picking up the pieces and rearranging them has been an adventure. It has allowed me to create something even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.