When I was seven, I had my entire life figured out down to the very last detail:
- Go to school to become a teacher
- Get hired as a teacher right out of university
- Settle down
- Buy a house
- Get married by 24
- Be pregnant with my first child by 25
- Have around 3-4 kids, maybe a dog
- Watch everyone else grow and move forward while I stay nestled in the same house, on the same street, in the same town where I grew up
I’ve almost accomplished #1. So having to look at that list now, I can’t help but laugh knowing that every other point on that list has vanished from existence.
As a 22-year-old graduating in August with two degrees under my belt, I have no clear career path set out, I can barely afford the price of a textbook let alone the price of a down payment on a house, I’ve never been in a relationship, and I can barely take care of myself let alone another human being.
Sometimes you just have to laugh at the chaos.
As I find myself at the end of my second degree, I think back to the moment where the entire trajectory of my life shifted. Stick with me through this small anecdote.
I remember being in grade 12, ready to submit my applications for Education degrees, when I got lost looking through programs and opportunities that I never thought were in reach.
Journalism, Dance, Sports Media, Creative Writing—reading the outlines of these programs made my entire body flutter and tingle with excitement like I had just tasted champagne for the first time.
Maybe an education degree wasn’t my path, maybe I was meant for something else, something more.
I went to a small high school where extra-curricular ran dry and electives didn’t extend far off of musical theatre and yearbook, so when I was faced head-on with compiling portfolios and filling pages of experience, I started to doubt if I had what it took.
At the University fair at my high school, they told us to go to two presentations, one you want to go to, and another one that you would never even consider.
I spent the first two blocks at Ryerson and York, looking into their Journalism programs and feeling very confident that I would inevitably end up at Ryerson. When it came to the final block, I looked at my dad and said, “should we just leave?”.
He replied, “well let’s just go to a random one, like they suggested”.
My father was a teacher at the high school, so I said that we could just go to the presentation that was in his classroom seeing as though he would have to lock up and the end anyway.
The presentation in his classroom was Queen’s—the school that I grew up swearing I would never go to. Two minutes into the presentation, I knew, and the rest was history.
In the end, I guess you could say that I picked the safe choice, I picked the Education degree, and even though I no longer want to be a teacher, I don’t regret it for a second. It was where I was supposed to be—I could just feel it.
Now, I choose to believe in fate because the thought that every single decision that you ever make will ultimately lead to either the success or failure of your life can… well drive someone straight into madness.
But what if?
What if we had just gone home? What if I had picked another presentation to go to? What if a different presentation was in my dad’s classroom?
Would I be happier? More successful? More of a failure? Every day we consistently make minuscule decisions, seemingly signifying nothing, that decide the trajectory of our life.
What if I had left the house 10 minutes earlier, gone to a different coffee shop, ordered a different drink? What if I stayed home that night, talked to someone else for a little longer, stretched my sight a little wider?
And while I do believe in the possibility that mingled in the dust of time and space there are infinite alternative dimensions where I did those other things, parallel universes where I’m happier, sadder, a wife, a mother, or maybe even dead, I don’t think those would have actually ever existed in this timeline.
Everything, somehow, in some way, always works out, always serves a purpose, even if we can’t see it in the moment. But this isn’t about fate, the title of this piece is “Why I’ll Never Settle”, and I’m sure you’re looking for the direct answer to that. So here it is: why would I?
At the end of the day, we’re all just specks of stardust that briefly wonder this rock that we call home—aren’t we?
Ok, I know it’s more complicated than that because, well, these specs of stardust need money and food and friendship and everything else one needs to survive. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is no singular path to success or fulfillment, or even happiness. And while some people may stumble upon it by the time they’re 18 or 22, a lot of us won’t.
Sometimes you find fulfillment in the same career for the rest of your life, sometimes it may take you a few several tries. Sometimes you meet love when you’re six years old on the playground, and sometimes you weren’t meant to meet love until 15 years after the divorce. Sometimes children arrive right when they’re planned, sometimes they come when least expected, and sometimes they never come.
But what is having your life together if not an incorrect assumption that a lack of chaos is ever even an option? Plans change, people grow, relationships fade, jobs move, opportunities fall, time continues, fate happens. Not to sound too much like an English student here, but I do believe Robert Frost may have said it the best:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Life is a constant state of two diverged roads. Should I stay or should I go? Should I say yes or should I say no? Should I turn left or should I turn right? I can promise you, that whatever it is that you’re looking for, is around the bend. You just have to have enough courage to find it, and enough hope that it will come.
Until then, why settle for anything less?
Header Image: Sadie Levine – @sadiesartthings
HALEY MARANDO IS AN ONLINE CONTRIBUTOR FOR MUSE ONLINE