Directionality. Where are we really going anyway? I’m not a fan of the idea of “everything happens for a reason” or “fate”, but when I’m pressed for my opinion on it, I feel like I end up stumbling back to it. I don’t necessarily believe that our lives are plotted out by the Almighty God above and that we are just mindlessly following the dot on the purple line; rather, I feel like we are ping-pong balls being bounced back and forth and learning from each ping to each pong.
So last night I ended up talking about life and the directionality of it and had an epiphany. People have asked me lately, “Sam, do you regret getting married?” and the honest answer is that I don’t. I don’t regret getting married and I don’t regret getting divorced. What I do regret, however, is the part of my life that happened before I got married.
When I graduated high school in 2004 I watched over the summer months as all of my friends packed up for UGA, Georgia State, Tech, Shorter – they all were going to college and I was not. Even my cousin was getting ready to drive to the middle of the United States to go to college at Arkansas and I was stuck. Mind you, it wasn’t that I was incompetent and completely unable to attend college, I just had the very rude (and very late) awakening that I was going to be the sole provider of funds for my college education. Most people that I’ve encountered don’t understand this. Hell, I don’t even understand it still, but I remember the conversation I had with my mom when I told her I got into UGA. The conversation is as fresh and vivid as if it just happened yesterday: “Well, how are you going to pay for it?” “Well, I thought you’d help me?” “No, my job was to get you through high school and I did that. It’s your responsibility to get yourself through college.”
There were some other things that were said, and they are things that if I wrote about, people would think my mom is a monster. She’s not. She’s a wonderful, wonderful woman and I talk to her every day. I love my mom; I love her for all her beautiful little quirks and funny things she does. There is just a cautionary clause to my mom: you don’t talk about college funding. We don’t ever talk about how my education has been paid on my American Express or about how they paid for my brother to go to golf school. What we do talk about is how I’m kicking some serious ass at KSU and how I’ve been on the honor roll since my first semester. We talk about papers, theories, what I’m learning about, but we don’t talk about how it has been, or will be, paid for. There are battles you have to pick and choose to fight, because you know the outcome, and you have to determine if you actually want said outcome. I need my mom in my life and so it’s a battle I choose not to fight because, simply, I will lose. And that also means I will lose my mom and it’s not worth it.
As I watched as all my friends packed up for school I became very, very jealous. People would talk about who they are rooming with in the fall and I would have this deep emptiness consume me and make me feel like I was inferior to everyone. I would have this boiling pressure of frustration build up until I felt I was going to explode. Smiling while listening to other people talk about their happiness can really suck. It was almost as if they had a new chapter of their life that was beginning and I had nothing. I had a job, sure, but working at Victoria’s Secret is not exactly something to brag about. Huzzah! $7.25 an hour, say wha! wha! It was almost as if they were taking a huge step forward in their life while I was this terrified little sand crab scuttling around in circles, completely lacking any directionality, and super afraid of the child with the big, red sand pail that was trying to catch me. I had nowhere to go. I had no new chapter to start – an unfinished book, you could say – and I was doing the Dory swim.
I was bitter. Completely, totally, absolutely bitter. I was enrolled at Gwinnett Technical College completing core courses wanting to gouge my eyes out with hot spoons. Everyone around me felt like absolute idiots and I judge them all. They probably weren’t, but my passive aggressive behavior was being taken out on the people around me for absolutely no reason. I hated them because these people were choosing to be here, while I had to be here. I was embarrassed – so embarrassed to admit to people, when they asked, “Sam, where are you in school?” I’d grumble under my breath the name of the school and quickly dismiss the conversation. Especially when my friends were at UGA or Tech – or in some cases UVA and UNC. Stupidly, I admit, I screwed up at Gwinnett Tech because I didn’t care and as a result, I was the idiot. My grades suffered. I regret ever trying to go there because it was something that I didn’t want.
Eventually, I stopped going to school and focused on working. I felt like even if I did graduate from there, what the hell would an associates degree get me? Nothing! I didn’t want to continue financing something I didn’t want and something that wouldn’t give me any leverage or feeling of accomplishment.
Logically, what was the next chapter of my life? Marriage. I was in a serious relationship. I was living with him. We were together all the time. Playing house and playing the Susie-homemaker role felt right. I had a chapter, a new beginning, something that my friends didn’t have and logically, it was a progression forward. I was no longer a stagnant pond fermenting algae growth on top of me. I wasn’t pond scum anymore. I had movement; I had a river to run into and to take me away. I had something to be proud of. I had a man who was educated beyond educated and had a very solid background and family. He represented everything in my life that I was lacking: education, success and the ability to be even more successful.
What he didn’t have was what I was truly lacking. He didn’t have the answer of who I was. College is about a lot more than just the education, it’s about finding yourself as an individual. It’s about learning who you are and learning what you’re capable of. It’s about falling, getting back up, dusting yourself off and moving forward. It’s about 3am paper writing for an 8am deadline, or cramming for a test, or partying too hard and waking up on a couch in the front yard of a Frat house not remembering how you go there. Okay, maybe not the last part, but still! I never and will never have this.
I was forced to grow up way too freaking fast. Let’s be honest, how many 21 year old’s do you know who own their own house, have a 401k, their own health insurance, paid for bran new car, super awesome job and are married? Yeah, not a lot. I was 21 living like I was 31. Logically, though, it was what I felt I was supposed to do. I didn’t have college, right? I let my parents and their non-supportive stance on college dictate my direction in life. Plus, all of a sudden I had a sense of belonging and a place for me. I’m OCD as hell. Things have their “homes” their “places that they belong” and for a while there, I didn’t have a place of belonging, I was lost and this felt like it was a fit.
I’m not and never will say that he was a bad man, because he’s really not. In fact, he’s an amazing individual and I’m so glad that we are still friends and that we talk almost everyday. If there is anyone to blame in this situation, it’s myself. I’m the one who thought I could change to be with him. My fault. I also blame the fact that my parents didn’t let me have a necessary life growth in that I essentially left their nest for his. The only thing I regret in my life right now is not standing up to my parents and just going to college anyway. Living alone, the freedom of it and the ability to make my own decisions without having to comply with someone else. Someone the other day said to me, “Sam, for being 25 you’ve lived a lot of your life already” and it kind of dawned on me. She was right – I’ve done a lot of things and learned a lot about life in a very short amount of time. I like feeling like a sponge. I like soaking up knowledge of my failures and using them to better my life.
I’m figuring out who I am. I’m starving for knowledge and growth. I’m me, dammit. I’m just not sure who “me” is yet, though I’m starting to figure it out. If you have any ideas of things to do, or places to go, or adventures to take, I’d like to know about them. Point me in a direction and I’ll walk down that road and see what I find.