Monday, April 29, 2013

The What Ifs...

Do you ever wonder, "What If..."?

I've found myself thinking about the past a lot lately.  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I decided to go to college in MA rather than run for National FFA office.  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I stayed in DC a bit longer.  Sometimes I wonder what I would be doing now had I taken grad school a bit more seriously.  I even wonder if I would have liked Norman, OK more had I not been working for a child abuse response center.

I will never know.   I didn't go to Harvard.  I left DC before I'd even been there a year.  During the first semester of grad school, my grandfather passed away and I never could quite get back into the swing of things.  After seeing child after child who had been physically or sexually abused (some four years old and younger), I couldn't trust anyone in that new town.

I don't think back and wish my life would have taken a different route.  And, rarely do I regret any decisions made.  However, what I often wish is that I could replay some of the events...not to choose something other than what I did, but more so, to respond to life in a different way.  I feel like in every situation mentioned (and many others unmentioned), I have been planning for a new day instead of living in that very day.

I couldn't really choose a college path until I knew what was going to happen with National FFA office.  Why get really involved with school if I was just going to have to take a year off to serve with FFA?  I stayed in my dorm, almost the entire first semester, preparing to run for office (when I wasn't in class) instead of getting involved in all that Texas A&M had to offer.  When November rolled around, I wasn't elected.  And, I came back to a school of 40,000+ where I really hadn't made a place.  The future I was living for didn't come to pass, and I seemed to have wasted a lot of the present along with an opportunity to establish a good start my first semester away from home.
In DC, I loved most every minute.  I worked long hours and stayed out with friends many nights of the week.  If I wasn't giving tours, I was going to neat events, and being in awe of my surroundings.  However, I quickly began to see the environment in which I worked (where children new their au pairs better than their mamas) wasn't one I wanted to be in forever.  I could see myself getting "addicted" to the thrills of The District life and suddenly thought, "I better get out" because I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.  At 23, I left DC, without a real plan, without a boyfriend, and without a true reason.  When I could have stayed on a bit longer, enjoying an opportunity of a lifetime, I convinced myself that I needed to "get out while I could."

Grad school...I basically gave up.  I got through the classes and graduated in an average position.  There again, I didn't know what I was going to do with a master's in public administration.  I thought the nonprofit world would be interesting, but I was buying time until I could be a mom (something I didn't know was for certain).  I went to class and then home to study.  I rarely interacted with many of my classmates.  I didn't take advantage of the unbelievable speaker series hosted by the school.  I did what I needed to do in order to get by fairly well.  Sure, some classes I put more effort into, thus getting more out of.  However, I did it half-way.  I wasn't me and who I knew I needed to be...but a lazy, unhappy version of myself.

I did find a job in the nonprofit arena...doing development work for a child abuse response agency in Oklahoma.  It was my job to secure funding.  It started well.  I loved the grant-writing.  Every day got a bit tougher.  I was in a new community, and I was tasked with making myself known in order to gain support for our organization.  With every new child that walked in that door, having been abused, I grew more and more leery of the community.  I began to not trust anyone.  I saw so much more of the evil side of communities/people than I ever knew existed.  While there was so much good to be found, instead of finding it, I stayed in my safe haven of home with my new husband and rarely ventured out for work, much less play.  I failed to do my job well, once again.  Worrying what different situations may arise, I did "good enough" to get by while hoping for a career change in the not-too-distant future.

Blah blah blah.  All of that to say, I'm a wife and mom now.  I get to stay home with my kids!  And, every single one of those experiences helped shape me.  I just wish I could do things a bit differently.  Would I have loved Harvard?  Who knows.  I do know that I grew to love Texas A&M...enough to go back!  And, I have the best friends from my time there.  Would I have stayed in DC longer if I wasn't so future-thinking?  Maybe. I do know I would have enjoyed it more.  Would it have been a better experience at grad school had I graduated at the top of my class?  Probably not.  But, if I would have put just a tiny bit more into it, I would have felt better about it today.  Would I have made it in the nonprofit area of child abuse response?  No.  I am so thankful there are people who are gifted to help others in that way.  I know it wasn't for me, and I'm glad I didn't do it much longer, but I do wish I would have been a better employee while I was there.

Hindsight is 20/20, right?  I can say all of this now and not change a thing.  I can't change where I went to school or a wasted first semester.  I can't change the amount of time I spent in DC.  I can't change the experience of grad school.  And, I cannot re-do my time in Norman.  I can't go back.  In fact, I probably have learned more by the decisions I did make than others I could have made.  More than anything, I can look back to all of these situations and see them for what they're worth today.  They all scream, "Live in the now!"

Yes, it's important to be responsible and to plan for the future.  But, not so much that you completely miss the present.  Right now, I am married to the man of my dreams.  I am living out a vocation that I always hoped for.  I have three babies and each of them are a miracle.  I love my life.  Love it!

If any of those "what ifs" had happened, I might not be where I am right now.  And, I believe I am here for a reason.  That questioning has helped me grow and appreciate my life just as it is now.  Soon, these babies will be grown, and I'll be wishing for days where I am interrupted by tiny voices, laughing with my husband at the thoughts that can only come from a child's mind, and giving anything for a baby to be curled up on my chest.

The "what ifs" prevent us from relishing the now.  Instead, I vow to enjoy today, and all that it brings so that it doesn't soon become a "what if."


  1. Amen! Every once in awhile I get perilously near the ditch of regret on the side of the path to sainthood and ultimately what draws me back is that if I had made any other decisions back then, I would definitely not have the amazing life I have now. However, I still have a hard time thinking about any part of my past - even the good parts - because I veer toward the ditch so easily.

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  3. Oh, Britt. It's perfect. I just love the fact that you shared all of this. You inspire me so much more than you know!!


  4. Just wonderful. So often am I tempted by the allure to redo the past, but thankfully I reminded by my conscience that the past is there to learn from and not to long for. My husband and I have a mantra for the moment: The present is the best investment.

    Thanks so much for your well thought out thoughts.

  5. Did you ever read those kid books where you could choose one of two directions for the story to go and it would take you to various endings depending on what direction the story went? I loved those books and often thought that it would be cool if that's how life worked. But it doesn't. And that's a good thing. God has a way of making things fall into place. All those "What Ifs" are shapers and guiders and lessons, but the ending is ultimately exactly what it should be.

    Your thoughts are so genuine and relatable. Thank you for sharing them.


  6. What a beautiful post... I often look back and thank God for protecting me, guiding me, etc. But often times I also wish I'd done things a little different. But even now, I try to remind myself that "right where I am is where God wants me to be." Thanks for blessing me tonight!

  7. Hey friend - what year were you an NO candidate? Maybe we met? That used to be one of my convention responsibilities - the NO candidate officers the Sunday night before all the madness began. :) Perhaps we did meet in person once upon a time!

  8. Love this post!! Thank you so much for sharing! I tried to comment a few days ago from my phone but I guess it didn't post! What a beautiful journey God has planned for our life. It is so crazy to think about how one decision could change everything, but I always like to think it may get us to the same ending or (new beginning). No regrets only lessons :) You are such an amazing mother and wife....all those experiences made you YOU!! I am so thankful you choose to go to A&M and not Harvard...because I am so blessed to call you a friend. Love you and pray for you and your sweet family all the time!!!