Twenty-five year after high school, where has life taken you?
Remember when we thought we knew it all? We were bright-eyed and full of dreams. We were Adults! Ha, if we really only knew what it truly meant to be an adult. Being 18 does not make you an adult, all 18 does is allow us to choose the way we want to go, without permission from our parents. Life has a way of knocking you on your ass, and most of the time it is unexpected. If we only knew what we know now, how would life be different? Would we want to change anything, or embrace what happened? Mercy Me has a song named, “Dear Younger Me,” in the chorus it states; Dear younger me, I cannot decide do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life, or do I go deep and try to change the choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me. Even though I love this crazy life, sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride. Dear younger me, dear younger me. This song has a very deep meaning.
Twenty-Five years ago this June the class of 1994 graduated high school. This is a quarter of a century, most of us have been married, have children, some divorced and remarried, by this time some of us even have grandchildren. Whatever the case it is for you, think about this question, did your life turn out as you had planned, or did it take a curve to the right or left? Were you on top and got knocked down, or were there many potholes in the road you traveled? Did you choose the road that was not often taken, or
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In 1994, I was a young girl looking for my path in life, I wanted to go to college, but my grades were just not good enough. I wanted to be involved in the media business, either as a reporter, or a journalist. I also wrote poems (lyrics to songs). I wanted to be a writer, but I also loved music as well. I was not sure really what exactly I wanted in life after high school, all I knew was I wanted to be somebody. I went to a community college to get my basics and I took a fulltime job and set out to be an “adult”. What the Hell did I know, being an adult sucked? As I said I worked fulltime and went to school, but my heart just was not in it. I fell short and decided to quit. This was what I would call my first failure. I did not even last a semester.
Years passed and I was still working full time and not really living, just existing. I was single, living alone in a nice little apartment, but I was not happy. All my friends were dating and finding love, and all I was doing was finding idiots. The men that in my pathway were defiantly nothing to brag about. Five years after high school graduation I was no further in life than I was my senior year, except that I had my own place. My friends, as I said were either graduating college, or getting married, or having children. I felt I was being left behind, and I hated it.
Well, in April of 1999, I felt my boat had come in, not my ship, just my boat. I ran into my future husband at the mall. We had dated briefly my senior year, but we drifted away. We exchanged phone numbers and I waited for his call. He called? We talked for hours and it felt right, but was it? At the time I thought so, a week later we went out on our first date, and four months later I was walking down the aisle of a wedding chapel. Quick, I know, I felt I had time to make up. I loved him, please do not get me wrong, but maybe it was too quick to make the decision to say forever.
I was a married woman, and soon to be a mother. I was pregnant and I was elated. It was not easy, I had a crappy job, with crappy hours. My husband did not have a good job either, we struggled. We had the love that was about all we had. Love conquers all, right. So naïve, but by the time 2001 came around I had a little boy and was pregnant again. I will not go into a lot of details on this part of my life, this is for another blog, but life was hard. We did not make it easy on ourselves at all though. My husband decided to go back into the military, he knew it was the best thing he could do for his growing family. It was stability and we needed stability.
While he was in boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, I gave birth to our second son. We spent the next five months in San Antonio, TX while he was in school, and then on to our first duty station. Fort Riley KS. Okay, so eight years after graduation, I am married, have two sons, a military spouse, and oh yeah pregnant again. Life really made a turn that I never even pictured. Life as a military spouse, I never even really knew anyone in the military so I was really lost at first. I was 27 years old and a mother of three children, two boys, and a girl. I was about 1100 or so miles from my parents and only knew a handful of people in KS, and here is where a huge wrench was thrown into the mix of an already stressful life; the unit that my husband was assigned to was being deployed for a year to Iraq.
That was my worst nightmare come true, I am being left behind to care for three very small children, while my husband went to fight for our country. I am forever proud of him and all military for taking the stand and fight for the country I love, but I was also scared. As all of the spouses were, I was not alone. Life was not easy, the house was never clean, the dishes piled up for a few days before I could get to them. The laundry was clean and dry, but never put away; who had the time for that. Two babies in diapers and bottles and a preschool age son. How did I even survive? That time in my life is a blur. Even during this time of my life I was thinking that I wanted more, I just did not know what I wanted. A long year later the unit returned, and life returned to normal. Well as normal as military life can be, it’s never predictable.
In 2005, we were transferred to Columbia, SC, this is where things turn around a little. I made the decision to go back to school, I was almost 30 years old. I decided to study child psychology, I wanted to learn more about my oldest son newly diagnosis. At age five years old he was diagnosed as having pediatric bipolar. I always knew he was different, a mother knows, but what was this bipolar? I spent the next ten years studying and preparing for a new life. I ended that decade with two degrees, I earned my Bachelors in Science in Christian Counseling, specializing in children and adolescence, and a Masters of Art in Human Service Counseling: Marriage and Family. I am very proud of my accomplishments. Many people in my past never believed in me and some teachers even said I would never amount to anything in life. I went back to school for many reasons, one to prove to others I was worthy, to help my son and others in his situation, and I wanted to prove it to myself as well. This was not an easy road, my marriage took a big hit, I missed out on things with my kids, and I think I even lost myself a little along the way. I am defiantly a different person than I was years ago. This has to do with many challenges in life, we all have them, between two separations with my husband, (three if you count the time he was in Iraq), dealing with my oldest mental health issues, my husband’s PTSD, low-income situations for years, struggles and feeling so depressed myself. I have grown into this very confident woman.
I am now 43 years old, I have three teenagers, one of the three is a 19-year-old “adult” there is that word again. He has no clue what it is like to be an adult. He is lost in this world, reminds me of myself a little. His path is so of course right now, I am curious to what turns it will lead him. He will always suffer from mental health, it is all up to him on how to cope with the effects daily. I have two other high school students, and as this school year wraps up they both a pretty clear idea and plans for their futures.
Twenty-five years after high graduation, I am nothing like the girl I was when I was 18, but really who is, right? I have been married for 20 years in August, my marriage is far from a storybook tale, and the question I asked earlier, did I rush into marriage all those years back? Was this really a love made from God’s choice? Was he the one I was supposed to marry? I still do not have a clear answer to this question. I love him, and I always will, he is the father of my children, and many years of laughter, and hard times. This tends to make people stronger. We finish each other’s sentences and it's comfortable. This is all I can really say about us right now, look for the next blog about the future of the marriage that was tied together on August 28, 1999. As for this blog, where has life taken me since leaving Summerville High School in 1994? Nowhere I ever dreamed it would, I am living in my childhood home that I purchased in 2016, it is back in the family and I cannot be more thrilled. I am living in the town I was born in, and loving small town life. My husband is retired from the military and has many issues that Iraq created, and he is not the man I married, he changed too. I often miss the man I married, but I have learned to love the man he is now.
I am not done with living life, I will always continue to strive for better, I am in the process of testing for my Counseling license, I plan to get certified in military counseling, and I hope one day in the near future to be in private practice and have many programs that will benefit the community. I am always reminded of the bible verse in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. The other question I asked, did life take you where you planned to go? I can honestly say no, it did not. I am grateful that the good Lord knows better than I do, he took me on the path I was supposed to go down, even though I diverted off the path a little; he brought me back. I never imagined my life would ever be like this, for the most part, I am happy. I get stressed, and mental illness is not a fun thing to deal with, never knowing what the day will bring. I am a strong woman, and God made me stronger. I will conquer the next mountains that I will no doubtingly come across in life.
Here’s to the next 25 years…….. To the Class of 1994 May We All Be Blessed.
© 2019 Kristin Shay
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 01, 2019:
Wonderful. I am so happy after more than fifty. Life is such a blast!! Sign me up for the next go around.