The TV show, "Criminal Minds" always opens and closes with a quote. Last night's episode closed with one by Joseph Campbell: "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
I'm a planner by nature and necessity. I like order and organization. Systems and structure. And living with three people with ADHD requires this. Nurtures my OCD by giving it purpose.
When I was 19, my college advisor told me I had enough credits to graduate a year later. I knew I wanted to be an attorney, specifically a prosecutor. One of the best traits of teens and twenty-somethings is the optimism and ideology that allows for unbounded dreams. Belief in the knowledge that you can change the world. You've severed the bonds of childhood but not yet tethered to the reality of adulthood's responsibilities of family, mortgages, retirement and college planning, and all of the other things that abruptly slap us in the face.
At first, things went as planned. I went to law school. I graduated. But when I sent resumes to over 20 District Attorney's offices, nothing happened. So I waited tables while studying for the bar, confident that I would soon be putting bad guys in prison. Making the world a better place. For me, becoming an attorney wasn't about making money but about making a difference.
But then reality set in. I didn't get a job in a DA's office, and my over $100,000 in student loans became a monthly payment. The legal career I'd planned wasn't going to happen, so I had to adjust. I joined a civil litigation firm in Miami. My new plan: make partner by 30, become a judge by 35.
Yeah, that didn't happen. I hated the practice of law. After some soul-searching, at 30 I realized that the life I'd planned over a decade earlier was not the life I was meant to lead. And now, over another decade later, at 43, my life has taken yet another abrupt turn. Twenty years ago, I'd never have imagined that I would be a producer for a Student Ministry in a church. Yet, here I am. And I am loving it. Every aspect of what I've been doing excites me. It never feels like work. Instead it liberates me and gives me a purpose beyond myself.
The life I'd planned for myself is behind me. And I'm embracing the life that is waiting for me.