I don't even remember what I got because I dismissed any formal career immediately. I wanted to be a musician, an artist. I wanted to avoid the interstates the masses all drove on and take the winding back roads.
Regardless, my high school counselors had the same phrase locked and loaded for all of us: "You can be whatever you want to be."
It's with this extreme optimism, this sense of control over our lives and our futures that we were sent forth into the world.
I'm afraid we were partially misled. That's not to say I don't believe we can become almost anything we want, do almost anything we want. What was left out of all of the feel-good future talk is how much we would face that would be out of our control. What our counselors never talked about is what to do when the unimaginable happens, when the levee breaks and storm waters reduce us to rubble.
I know this myself, and I know this of many of my friends.
Pain has entered your story--it has forced its way in the door and jarred you from the peace you once knew.
There are more than a few of you reading this who've been blindsided by that which you did not want nor choose.
You didn't choose to lose a child.
You didn't choose to have a child with health complications or a learning disorder.
You didn't choose to be cheated on.
You didn't choose to have cancer.
You didn't choose to have anxiety, or depression, or bipolar, or OCD.
You didn't choose to be abused by your boyfriend or husband or aunt or uncle or nanny.
You didn't choose your afflictions or your burdens, but they've found you. They've leveled you. They've pulled you until you've nearly come apart at the seams. Some of you have come apart and are trying to gather your insides that have spilled out.
This is not the life you wanted. This is not the life you dreamed of in the library of your high school. This is hard, so much harder than you could have predicted.
But this is your life, and you still have a say in what direction it goes. Naive dreams and easy mantras are not enough to get you through this. But hope is.
Hope isn't some warm-and-fuzzy, cop-out way to live life. On many days, hope is a battle. It looks like clenched fists, like blood and tears.
It's a battle worth fighting.
You are not just bone and sinew, blood and tissue.
You are not just nerve endings and electronic pulses firing back and forth.
You are soul and spirit, and soul and spirit are stronger, more pliable, more regenerative than your atoms and cells.
You are not done. You are not finished. You are in the fog and forest of your story, in the rising action, in the complication--there is more story for you to write.
You may be using blood, sweat, and tears as your ink right now, but let hope shape the letters.
Feature photo ©2006 madamepyschosis | Flickr