By Guest Blogger Kelly Duffy

“When you go through life, so sure of where you’re headin’, and you wind up lost, it’s the best thing that could have happened”

-Brad Paisley, “Find Your Self”

You may find this odd, but I wasn’t really a Brad Paisley fan until this morning. I found myself returning from the two hour marathon that is the morning drop off ritual (the two older to one school, the little guy to pre-school) and listening to the closing credits for Pixar’s’ “Cars”. Despite the fact that I’ve seen this movie close to a thousand times the song I quoted previously really jumped out at me. As a matter of fact the lesson of the entire film hit me powerfully right between the eyes. Who among us hasn’t veered off course because of detour signs somewhere in life?

One of the things I miss the most in life (besides a firm backside and my natural hair color) is the crystal clear vision I had of what I wanted for myself in the future. I was rock steady, unshakable in my convictions.  It was almost as if it was predetermined and nothing could get in the way. There was no self doubt, I was positively fearless. I can picture that young gal with her Pollyannish bravado just waiting to jump out into the world with her equally enthusiastic friends. “Here we go!” they all shout, knowing that with hard work and determination they would all arrive at their destination.

Cut to twenty years later and take a look at how many of us stuck to the original plan. Some of us are close, several are right on the mark, and most of us aimed high but didn’t hit the target. Let me preface this by letting you know that most of the women I spoke to were very honest about what they really wanted deep in their hearts. Even if that wish were as kooky as wanting to be a fairy princess, I let them run with it. How far away from the prize did we find ourselves? Let’s see.

I landed so far away from what I originally imagined that it could be said that I’m residing in a completely different universe. The plan I deviated from was not a realistic blue print by which to live a life.  When I was four, I desperately wanted to be a “drawer.” No, not the place you fold and place your socks, but someone who draws for a living. My mother was a frustrated artist (far more naturally talented than I’ll ever be) who chose motherhood and housewife duties over pursuing any kind of dreams she may have had.  When it came time to test my meddle, I gathered my best stuff, compiled a decent portfolio and prepared to submit it to the list of art schools my teachers had given me. Aghast, my parents discouraged this avenue and begged me to reconsider a four year liberal arts university. It was an easy choice given my expertise at quitting and the powerful influence of an overbearing mom and dad.  I still draw, but not with the passion I used to have. However I’ve gained some things I never imagined would be mine, a funny creative husband, a charming but sometimes challenging old house, three delightful (sometimes) kids, and two dogs and a guinea pig that screams. I feel happy, satisfied on most days and thankful that I have a life this full.

My friend, let’s call her Vicky, lived in a number of big cites after graduating from her very high falutin’ university. It was assumed she would go on and take the world of academia by storm, but she was presented with a whole host of issues that don’t usually plague the big brains. She was pregnant by her less than worthy boyfriend of two months.  Shocked we wondered how someone this smart, who was due to go to law school right after getting her master’s degree could have let this happen? I remember saying, “wow, if this can happen to her, then there really is no hope for the rest of us shmucks.” Last week I got a hold of her and posed the same question. Were there any regrets? Was she happy with what she had made of her life? The most surprising response came out of her mouth. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing, this is how it was meant to be and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Wow.

My other friend, who we’ll call Barb, has had her future in her apparel since the first day of high school. It was going to be fashion or nothing at all. She made all the right career moves and was even able to dance around a high profile layoff and turn it around into an advantage. She never had time for a serious relationship and instead went through a series of men as quickly as she changed outfits. Later on, however she turned around and realized she was sneaking up on forty and there was no one to share all this blinding greatness with. In a year she managed to get herself fired again (sort of on purpose), dive headfirst into a relationship with a great guy, spend time enjoying herself and finally get married.  I asked her about regrets and she took a moment to think back over her life and finally said “I’m sorry we never got to start that girl band in high school”. Hmmm, okay.

So with all this hoopla over the unhappiness rates for women, I wonder to myself how many gals are satisfied with what life has handed them so far. How many obstacles and what appeared to be insurmountable road blocks have you pole vaulted right over to get and keep what you want? Life doesn’t always turn out the way you thought it would, but sometimes having poor aim isn’t such a bad thing.

Kelly Duffy

http://dufmanno.wordpress.com

Readers, tell us, did you stray from your path in life? Are you happy with how things are going? What did you learn?

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