In keeping with my last post, today I am going to write another list. This one is not about what I will accomplish or what I have accomplished. Today’s post is going to be a list of the 3 things that have had the most impact on my life, and have completely changed the course and direction of everything. These are all things that, at the time, were absolutely awful and terrifying, but they have changed my life for the better in so many ways.
1. My parent’s divorce:
My parents got divorced when I was 10, and at the time, I was the only person that I knew whose parents weren’t together anymore. 18 years ago (oh.my.god I can’t believe it’s been that long!) my entire world came crashing down around me when my mom told me and my sisters that my dad was moving out and we would be living with her. There were so many emotions---anger, hurt, confusion---and we directed 99% of those emotions towards my mom. (Sorry about that Gigi!!) What we didn’t know, however, was that for years my mom had been through so many of her own emotions, and she was finally at her breaking point. As a child you only see so much of what goes on between your parents—sure, they have the occasional fight and silent treatment, but that’s just what parents do—but what you don’t see is that sometimes, parents are just not meant to be together. It took many years for us to realize this, and when we finally did, the most amazing thing happened. My parents became friends! My mom and dad have a better relationship now than they ever did while they were married, and my mom & step-mom get along great!! My mom is 100 times happier than she was when we were kids, and seeing the two of them in the same room together, laughing and joking about things from the past, is one of the greatest feelings. I know now that my parents were only together for the sake of having my sisters and me, and looking back, the divorce is the best thing that could have happened to us all.
2. Dropping out of college:
From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. I had an amazing experience with a nurse while I was in the hospital, and it completely changed my life. All through grade school and into high school I just knew that I was going to be a nurse someday, it was just a matter of finishing school and picking the right college. Fast forward to junior year of high school—time for SATs and college applications. I was accepted to a great school—Drexel University---that offered a 5 year co-operative program for Nursing. It seemed perfect! I would get the schooling I needed plus the hands on experience that I wanted, and after 5 years I would finally be a nurse. Unfortunately, 3 years later I decided that nursing wasn’t what I thought it would be and I dropped out. $50,000 in student loans and one career choice later, and I knew I was screwed. Not only had I wasted 3 years and more money than I like to think about, but I had let myself & my family down by quitting something I had dreamed of for years. As awful as the entire ordeal was, it was a huge life changer—had I finished nursing school, I would have graduated in 2008 and signed into a contract with a hospital in order to obtain a sign on bonus (the contracts are usually at least 5 years). That would have brought me into 2013, still working at a hospital in Philadelphia and still not living in Florida. Had this happened, I would have never gone to the job fair that fateful day in August, I would have never gotten hired at the call center, and I would have never been asked to train the new hire class that contained my future husband. And for that reason above anything else, dropping out of nursing school was the best decision I have ever made.
3. My dad getting cancer:
Let me clarify this---my dad getting cancer was NEVER a good thing, and I would never wish for anyone to have to go through what he went through. That being said…During my teenage years, my dad and I had a falling out. Things were said and the relationship was destroyed, & I didn’t speak to him for about 5 years. One day my mom called me and my sisters to the kitchen table and told us that our dad had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he had to begin treatment right away. By then, it had been so long since I had spoken to him, and my feelings for him were nothing more than feelings toward a stranger, but I knew that deep down, it would be the biggest regret of my life if I did not mend the relationship. My dad needed all of the support we could provide him, and without his daughters by his side, the journey would have been that much harder. That night the 3 of us drove to his house, and without saying a word, the years of pain and anger were swept aside. Through treatment and remission, relapse and now recovery, my relationship with my dad has grown stronger. There have been a few speed bumps along the way, but things couldn’t be better than they are now. Had my dad not gotten sick, who knows where our relationship would be (or if there would even be a relationship at all!). As bad as the diagnosis was, it has led to years or great times and a relationship that I never imagined having.
So there it is, the 3 most life changing events that I have been through. I want to challenge you to dig way down deep and find that one thing (or 2 or 3) that changed your life in the most amazing way, even though it was awful at the time. Just goes to show you that things really do happen for a reason!