how lucky I was to get it all wrong

The day after I made the first reflection post on my blog, my little brother sent me a text of approval for the post as well as this picture. He snapped this without me knowing during a hike in the spring of 2013 and sent it to me last month thinking it would be really fitting for a future blog post. Thanks, bro.

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I have zero recollection of the thoughts crossing my mind at this moment in time. If I had to guess, they probably had to do with not wanting to go in to work that night so I could spend more time with my brother, being happy that I had burned plenty of calories that day and of course the peacefulness that goes along with sitting on top of a mountain overlooking your little part of the world. I truly love being places that make me and all of my problems feel so small.

There is this thing that has followed me since I started college, not sure that it’s dramatic enough to be considered a blessing or a curse, so it still remains nameless, but when I make declarative, sometimes life-changing decisions/statements, the opposite tends to happen. That is what this picture reminds me of. I sit back and ponder what I want from life and what I’m going to do and then the plan that has clearly been decided for me wins. And I’m okay with it because I feel like I’m in the right place; I’m where I need to be. But it would be a lot less exhausting if I could make the right choices or even just say the right things initially. Maybe one day that will be the case but for now at least it leaves me with some comedic relief in hindsight.

Rewind to February 2014. I decided to take a year off from pursuing my dietetic internship and move to Charleston, SC with one of my best friends, because I would NEVER move back home after graduating. I quit my serving job the following month because I had enough funds to get by until graduation and I wanted to enjoy time with my friends and needed the weekends free to do so. Fast-forward to May, my furniture has already been picked up by her family, we are about a week away from deciding on an apartment and then the financial crisis hit. I was going to have to pay 2 months rent for Charleston before I even moved down, I had to get my own car insurance which would at least double my current monthly payment, oh and there was the minor detail of my exit counseling for student loans where I was supposed to budget the next 10 years of my future including a hefty monthly payment and I didn’t even have a job lined up. I had to back out of moving to Charleston and it was devastating. I cried a lot that week. I had just graduated and already adulthood was proving difficult. I wanted to run back to Blacksburg and stay in the safe little bubble also known as college forever.

I was quickly distracted though because at the end of that week I was moving to Ocean City (where now I had to stay since I wouldn’t move home and I couldn’t move to Charleston) for the summer with one of my college roommates and best friends. Her parents have a beach house there and I was going to just relax and have fun, spend a lot of time getting back into shape and getting a tan. I wanted to mediate, do yoga and FORGET THAT BOYS EXIST because this was my last summer before life got real and I needed a break. So naturally, I met a boy the first night I’m there that I just had to have and we had a summer fling. Somewhere in the midst of all this my dad and stepmom convinced me to move back home at the end of summer. Despite my two part time jobs, I was running out of options at the same rate I was running up my credit card bill, so I painfully agreed.

At the beginning of August some of my friends peer pressured me into skydiving which was an amazing and crazy experience in itself but what came of that was even crazier. I changed my profile picture the next day to a photo of me looking pretty terrified right before I jumped out of the plane…actually I didn’t jump, it was more like I fell out of the plane with the guy who I was strapped to. Anyway, I got a message that night on FB from a girl I graduated with and ran into at Winchester Medical Center when I had shadowed a dietitian there the previous winter. I couldn’t open the message that night because we didn’t have internet at the beach house and I forgot about it until about 11am the next morning. She had seen my profile pic change and that jogged her memory about a job opening for a WIC nutritionist position in Winchester that she thought I would be perfect for. The application closed in 5 hours. Thankfully I was baby-sitting that day and was able to bang out the application in between playing with and feeding the most precious four-month-old I’ve ever met.

My hasty application must have been of decent quality because I got an interview. And on my way home I ended my summer fling. I was interviewing for a big-girl job, moving back home to save money and trying to make something of my post-grad life. I felt so empowered and I was ready for a real relationship which clearly wasn’t coming out of spending the whole summer with this boy. This was the first time I ever ended things without having a back up plan…over the past couple years I had been such a sucker for needing a boy in my life to feel self-worth. I did it and I was SO proud of myself that I immediately called my Charleston friend to tell her what I did. That’s how big of a deal this was. But within a week he texted and still wanted to be friends and the next thing I know we’re doing cute couple-y things like ending a perfect day of visiting wineries by playing scrabble on my bedroom floor and spending rainy days arm in arm so he could hold the umbrella as we wandered favorite cities. Aside from a few important things we had in common, we weren’t really compatible so where was this really going? I didn’t have an answer to that question but I was hooked. There were feelings and it was comfortable and right when I thought I was ready to take things to the next level he was done, 3 days before Christmas. I think the worst part of that breakup was my hurt pride… and trying to get rid of the awesome snowboarding goggles I bought him. Of course parts of me missed him and our friendship and whatever you call what we had but more-so I felt unwanted and lonely and it sucked. I wished I had just put my foot down back in August when I had been feeling so brave.

I did get that job and it’s perfect for where I need to be right now and I may even get to do a paid dietetic internship here. I’m also getting a second chance with my prince charming all because I texted him for specific directions to somewhere we had gone together before, right at the beginning of this year. And I’m sure this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been dumped when I had. Fingers crossed there will be more to come on this topic at a later date..

The last little bit of insanity I want to share is about my car. It was a 2005 dodge neon that my aunt and uncle bought for me at the end of my jr. year of high school. I never really liked it but I appreciated it because it was a free car that got me from point A to point B. A couple weeks into January my aunt started talking about getting a new car so I considered buying her old one just to move up in the world of cars a bit but as soon as that thought began it ended. I DID NOT NEED A NEW CAR.

Two weeks ago I was driving to work just like I do on any other Wednesday. At a stoplight I looked down at my phone, honestly because I get bored sitting in traffic on my way to work every day and the temptation of my smartphone entertaining me is so easy to give in to. I saw the traffic move forward so I let my foot off the brake and bumped into a tractor trailer because it suddenly wasn’t moving forward anymore. That horrid, indescribable feeling when you’ve done something you so badly want to go back in time and erase crept up my spine. My hood was crumpled but the truck didn’t stop and we were in the middle of traffic so I just kept going to work. I followed it for a few minutes and nothing. I pulled into a parking space at my office and got out to asses the damage but I wasn’t alone. Some old man who had seen the incident and followed me to work got out of his vehicle and started telling me how much money it was going to cost to fix my car and then another coworker got there and saved me right as the tears began to flow.

My car was totaled and with the insurance check I had enough money for a decent down payment on a brand new car and some left to pay off my credit card bill that hasn’t come down since I quit my serving job almost a year ago. Prince charming talked me into a Subaru which I never would have thought of purchasing on my own and I’m in love with my car. It’s exactly what I wanted and I didn’t even know it.

So no matter how strongly I think and feel and declare, whatever is meant to be will be. That thought is equally terrifying and thrilling. It makes me want to put an active effort into smiling even when things seem bleak because I have been blessed beyond what I could have imagined during countless times when I felt like everything was going wrong. I’ve had this quote from Buddha saved on my desktop for over a year now but I’m finally ready to listen: “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.”