It really was. Since preschool I’ve been having my schedule set, I knew exactly what was to be done the days following, precisely what was expected of me and of course one of the things most students dread, the completion of homework. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I will miss homework, I will miss studying for midterms and having all-nighters (could never help not doing them) on Finals Week.

It’s not so bad I guess, I will continue to have exams and I am planning to go back as soon as I can. So much happened, and by so much I mean SO MUCH. I think that doesn’t even cut it, my life turned around completely and its only about to keep turning with surprises at every corner.

It was during Finals Week that I decided to apply for grad school, the application was actually all ready all I needed was to push that “Done” button and send it away but a lot happened. Long story short I opted to not apply, I decided it was time to start my life because truth is I’m not getting any younger.

Funny how things turned out because on graduation I got the chance to talk to one of my professors, one that knew me best and as he shook my hand he told me he hoped to see me in the Fall because there was no way I would not get into the program. With the chair backing me up as well (another one of my favorite professors who never gave up on me), and two others, my GPA, involvement and “enthusiasm to face challenges” all I had to do was say “Yes, lets do this”.

Thing is, I had made my decision a few days earlier that life was going to take me somewhere else for a while. As soon as my professor said that I looked up and thought how the Universe was throwing so much at me. Criticized for my decision I was, quite a lot actually by family and friends. How could I have a foot in grad school and back out? Like I said, I’m not getting any younger.

As I walked up the path that I walked so many times before, for years I realized it was the last time I would hopefully just for the few months to come. I said farewell to the many bright minds that amazed me every day, to the professors that didn’t give up on me and the buildings that housed my very thoughts. It was my second home for five years, the place that saw me grow. Some say graduating from college is the end of an era, and you know what? It is.

Thank you, Universe.

Smile, be thankful for the opportunities you take and those you leave behind.

 Five years ago my thoughts were so much different from today. No surprise there since a lot has changed but when I look at old pictures of myself I smile because if I could go back in time to tell myself something, well I wouldn’t. Most of my life I have been school oriented. When I started college my goal was to prove people wrong, yeah not the best goal to have. My motivations were all in the wrong place, and I had a lot of growth ahead of me. I’ve yet so much to learn, so much room for improvement and I already know to expect many changes ahead. Ah, life sure can turn one’s life around.

Graduation is six weeks away, so basically just around the corner. It hadn’t hit me until I went to get my cap and gown and I laid it down on my bed. Sleepless nights, many times crying over physics and calculus problems, many sweet eureka moments that literally made me skip my way to class. It was in college that I found my addiction to coffee, a drink I swore to dislike, just one of the many things I gave a try that I said I never would. After all that and more there I was standing before what I had worked so hard these last couple of years.

What’s next? A big question mark. Graduate school, the beginning of my own family, a far away adventure, a little of all? If you had asked me five years ago what my plans would be today I would’ve said without a doubt, Grad school. Now, I feel like my career has gone one level down on my priority list. For the first time I’m actually excited about wanting to start a family, quite the opposite thought that I had five years ago. I used to shiver at the thought of having kids of my own, my career was the only kid I ever wanted. Me have kids? You’re crazy!

Changes, changes all over the place. I don’t know where I’ll be next year, let along a few months but I can tell you that I’ve enjoyed the journey this far. I have a lot of growth ahead of me, more obstacles to overcome, and more changes coming up. Am I excited? I am!

Smile, take some time to look at your own journey in life. 

Recently mom and I had a conversation about life, and we evaluated the things that have happened in our lives that led us to be where we are today. She told me the story of how I came to be in this world. She had told me bits here and there but never had we sat down and discussed it all from the very beginning. After having my sister my mom became pregnant with twins, by the time she found out she was pregnant one of the fetuses had died and the other one’s health was doing poorly. My mom opted for an abortion because it was putting their lives in danger, this upset her greatly and became depressed for a while after. She decided to get “fixed” to not have kids anymore and life was fine and dandy for a few years until I popped up in the picture.

Image by Chiceaux Lynch

When she started to have weird symptoms she thought she was sick, she even craved raw meat (ironically I dislike red meat) and when she went to the doctor, voila! I guess I’ve been stubborn since before I was born because I held on to dear life in an ectopic pregnancy. The doctors suggested an abortion because at that time (yeah I’m old) they figured I had no chance in making it to the second trimester and it would only endanger my mom. She told me how she remembered the twins, and seeing as how I had been stubborn enough to get past her “fix” to not have babies she refused the abortion. As she put it “You held on, I decided to do the same for you”. My mom says I was the worst pregnancy she ever had, she stayed in bed most of her pregnancy (I was a preemie) and when she wasn’t she was in the hospital.

Dad wasn’t there during pregnancy, nor was he there when I was born. When I was born she was relieved that we had both made it despite the odds. She told me that I should continue to use my stubbornness to defy the odds and that she was happy I stuck through college. You have no idea how much that meant to me, its not everyday that you get words like that from my mom. It got me thinking, do I have a purpose in life? She could’ve easily refused to stick with me during her pregnancy. I could’ve been another statistic, but I too held on. The odds were against me. I don’t know if I have a purpose but I do know that you are what you limit yourself to be.

Smile, don’t let the odds limit who you can be.

  My parent’s marriage was never a rose colored one, or one of those where the couple has been married for so long you wonder what a great life they’ve had together. Wrong. My parent’s started off great, my dad even got his teeth knocked out in pursuit of my mom (had to get replacements). My mom destroyed the greatest car my dad ever had, rejected him a million times before she even said “yes” to a date and yet they got married.

What seemed to be a perfect story didn’t turn out so well a few years into their marriage, my dad had affairs and eventually they separated a few months after I was born. They tried to work things out when I was a few years old but that turned out more sour than the last and they called it quits soon after. Now after years of dad being away they’re back together but finally it seems they’ve figured out that despite everything they ended up together because no one seems to comprehend the other like they do.

I’ve been observing them for the last two years that my dad has returned, they started off quite rocky but it wasn’t until one of them decided to change that the other decided they too had to change to make this work. We all knew that those two loved each other, they were just too stubborn to change and admit their faults. Now, when I look at them I see that love that I hadn’t seen before. I see the way dad holds my mom’s hand and smiles as she eats her breakfast. Or the way mom makes dinner in such a loving and careful way to make it perfect because dad deserves a great meal after a long day at work. I love the way they hold hands in the car or when we go out to eat. I love the way that they hold on to each other when they fall asleep or how my mom looks like a schoolgirl whenever dad steals a kiss from her unexpectedly.

I’ve never seen my parents this way, and it took them years to realize how to make a marriage work. They’re getting older and older now, but to see that love is still there after all these years makes me very happy. I get so happy because it gives me hope that love doesn’t die, it doesn’t age, it just needs nurturing to stay strong. Its the kind of happiness that brings me hope that I can grow old with the person I love. To be able to hold their hand in my wrinkly hand, and still have that twinkle of love in my aged eyes the way I did when we first fell in love.

Smile, sometimes all you need is a new chance to turn it all around.

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