Growing up in a small town, there’s only one thing that you strive for from the moment you take your first breath: getting out.
It seems that more and more, every successful person you see is from “small town USA” and if they made it out, “so can you if you follow your dreams.” What a slogan to sell a kid on, huh?
Before I left Ohio I remember how satisfying it was to know I was getting out. People had always said I’d go on to do great things, and here I was moving to Florida! I told everyone I could how excited I was. Never again would I have to work fast-food or retail. I was going to make something of myself.
I got a nice apartment, a new car, a great job. I began growing personally and professionally. I was learning a lot, meeting amazing people, experiencing a ton of new things. I was truly living and it was thrilling. Things were really looking up for me.
So what happened?
I made it out, and I fell. Hard. I learned quickly just how hard it was to follow what you think are your dreams.
I learned the difference between wanting something, and actually wanting it. I learned what failure felt like.
I wasn’t making enough money to support the lifestyle I wanted so badly to have. I was careless with money, in fact. I racked up so much debt on pointless things, and I stopped paying some bills altogether. I lost my apartment. I lost my car. I began to lose myself. I tried to scrape by as best as I could, all the while realizing that I wasn’t really going anywhere at work. Add to this my father being diagnosed with skin cancer, and my mother beginning to have health problems of her own, and it started feel like it was one bad thing after another happening.
I became depressed as I slowly began to realize that I might have to move back home. It wasn’t fair. I had made it out. Why couldn’t I stay out? Why me?
My temper became short and I began having mood swings that affected me at work. To top that off, we soon learned that my father’s illness was getting worse and his doctors were now only concerned with prolonging his life expectancy as best they could. It was all starting to be too much for me to deal with. I found myself confronted with this one day when my supervisor took note of my disposition and suggested I take a leave of absence. I was shocked. But not surprised. I took a week off from work and went home to be with my family.
It’s strange how being away from your hometown gives you a new perspective. Did I want to move back? No. But was it really the end of the world if I had to? Not really.
Being home was a nice change of pace. It was quiet. Not much to do. Relaxing. My parents and I had several lengthy discussions while I was home that ultimately determined my fate. I returned to Florida and submitted my two weeks notice to work. I quickly found myself back where I started. I found myself back home.
I think once you reach your mid twenties, there’s an expectation that you should have your life together. That you’ll have had all of your “fun” and that it is now time to settle down and be an adult. Which is something that I know people my age fear.
I remember thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m thirty. I’ll finally have my life together, and be doing something that I love!” In four short years of high school you’re expected to know what you want out of life. Then in four short years of college you’re expected to work towards that, graduate, and be happy.
Well, in four short years I will be thirty. And guess what? I have absolutely no clue what I want to do with my life. And I’m learning to be okay with that.
I thought I had found my calling. But subconsciously my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t try hard enough to keep what I had because somewhere inside I knew it wasn’t meant for me.
I knew I didn’t really want it. I just didn’t realize it until I had lost it all, and came to know the almost unbearable sting of being branded as a failure.
So what’s my point? Sometimes in life you have to fall to get where you’re meant to be.
Don’t you just love a good cliche? But it’s true. I heard it so often growing up and I refused to believe it. Falling isn’t failure. Falling means you got somewhere. Falling means you made it out, but maybe just not to where you were meant to be at that time.
Suddenly you find yourself back at square one. Only this time you’re different than before. This time you have knowledge on your side, and you realize that time isn’t against you.
Where did falling get me? I’m living back at home with my parents. I’m able to help them around the house, take them to doctors appointments. I’m growing closer to my oldest sister and her husband as they have since moved back to town. I’m closer to my other sister and brother-in-law as they prepare to welcome their first child. I’ll be able to help all of them, something impossible to do from Florida. I’ll be able to go back to school and further my education if I choose. I’ll be able to travel. Falling may have just been exactly what needed to happen to me all along.
I may not know exactly what I want out of life. But that uncertainty is invigorating. Falling allowed me the chance to start over and step back into the world of the unknown, where I can figure myself out and where anything is possible again. So don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to fall. It’s not going to be easy, and sure it might hurt. But learning how to accept falling is how you find your strength. It’s how you find yourself, and how you get where you’re meant to be. You have to learn to accept the fall.