It’s never too late to be who you might have been.
I read that on Facebook this morning and I just thought, “HUH????”
I think it is supposed to be a motivational quote. I think it is supposed to push you forward, to tell you that no matter what, it’s never too late to follow your dreams, to make different choices, to change the direction of your life.
But I think it misses the mark.
When I read that, a song by Little Texas began playing in my head. It’s a beautiful song, really, about a lost love. Part of the song says, “I try not to think about what might have, ‘cuz that was then, and we have taken different roads.” It’s those different roads that make the post I saw on Facebook this morning wrong.
It may not be too late to redirect your life, but you can never know who you might have been if you’d made different choices.
That’s probably not what you wanted to hear. Heck, it’s not what I want to hear. But it’s something that I have to face.
This fall I will begin my senior year of college, twenty years after the start of senior year of high school. I am not the same girl I was back then. I don’t have the same dreams that I did then.
Twenty years ago, I looked forward to graduating high school, starting college, and becoming a high school teacher. The plan was to teach English and history from September through May and write best-selling novels from June through August. Somewhere along the line I would marry and have children, but my schooling and career were the main focus. I made choices, though, that changed that focus, choices that resulted in no college degree, no teaching career, and no best-selling novels.
Not that I regret those choices. They also led to 13 years of marriage and three beautiful sons. And I have written a few novels. The books I’ve written are not what I would have written had I stayed on the course I planned for myself twenty years ago.
I made the choice to finish my education because I do have that one regret hanging over my head—I regret that I never finished. My dream now is to earn my BA in creative writing and then move on to a Masters in creative writing. The desire to teach is still there, but not in a high school. I want to teach writing at the college level. It’s kind of funny. I didn’t realize I still had any desire to teach at all until one of my instructor commented that though I may know how to write, I don’t know much about literature. She said that knowing how to write a novel is not the same thing as knowing what good literature is. Maybe I am still somewhat idealistic…. I just don’t think a “teacher” should criticize a student like that. Her comments just sort of pushed me to not only want to continue my own educational journey, but to help others to reach their educational goals as well.
My goals now are different than they were twenty years ago. Finishing school isn’t going to help me to “become what I might have been.” I can’t get back that girl I was, the girl who was untouched by sadness and heartache and the “real world.” Who I am now is a result of the choices I made yesterday; who I will be tomorrow will be because of the choices I have yet to make. There is no way to know “what might have been.” All I can do—all any of us can do—is move on from today, make the best choices we can, and build a brighter tomorrow.
For ourselves, and by extension our families and our world.