Destination: Happiness (Consider Losing the Itinerary)

I’m not sure anyone can fully comprehend the emotion I feel behind this post as simple as it may seem; fear, vulnerability, love, a pit in my stomach, tears in my eyes, an ‘oh shit’ kind of feeling that can neither be described as good or bad.

A few weeks ago I came across the question, “Who do you admire and why?” Rather than going for the typical answers [insert celebrity or family member here], I realized the people that I truly admire are the ones who I deem life adventurers. Not in the sense of the ones who travel the world, but the ones who are adventurous with where life takes them. I’m talking about the ones raised in Nebraska who dreamt of being a lawyer in the Big Apple, but changed course when they took a vacation to Hawaii and 20 years later are still there teaching surf lessons to tourists, to be extreme. I liken it to being on a road trip and how there are those who have the day all planned out. Leave by this time, stop here, see this, on the road again by this hour, check into the hotel at the day’s final destination, enjoy a good dinner, and hit the hay. Then you also have the people who hop in the car, see a sign on the highway for a possible attraction, take the detour, venture out, take a side road, decide to cancel their hotel reservation in what was going to be their pit stop for the evening, and stay elsewhere. They don’t feel like those dead end streets or U-turns are a total waste of time if they allowed them to see or learn something new in the process. They shrug off road blocks and look for the detour signs.

Back to that in a bit. Time for a detour…

I’m house sitting for a friend and became keenly aware of her passion for horses and agriculture. It genuinely makes me happy to see people so enveloped in something they wholeheartedly love, though, it often leaves me feeling a tiny twinge of envy somewhere underneath. I was thinking about how fortunate she is to be so evidently passionate about something mixed in with mentally playing around with various ways to get children engaged in different activities. I was in the middle of considering how to document my ideas for future use when I became extremely aware of how much of my energy is spent contemplating the best ways to teach and get children to learn.

Growing up, I was never around children much, although I wanted to be. I was secretly the girl who wanted a dozen kids. My thoughts have changed a little since those days, but I digress. After high school, I started attending a local community college rather than the University of Oklahoma like I had hoped. I was a little discouraged and lost, which was heightened after I struggled to get classes and questioned if I wanted to stick with journalism like I had planned to do at Oklahoma or if college was even worth the money coming out of my pocket. At the time, a friend of mine was volunteering where I had gone to elementary school. I had always wanted to have experience being around children and, after I expressed interest, started helping out in the classroom as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, (the first year at least, the second year was a little rough). There were even a few weeks where I spent more hours there than I did at my job. I hadn’t given much thought to teaching and wasn’t considering it until the teacher told me that she could picture me with my own classroom leading my class. Wait…what? Me?! That wasn’t even on the table as an option in my mind. I was just doing it because I enjoyed it. Fast forward several years and I started dating someone with children. I’ve begun to learn and accept that I do oddly well with teaching. I have been blessed with the patience for children (and cats) that I entirely lack with adults.

During my mini wake up call, as we’ll refer to it, I was thinking about how I need to start writing down all of my ideas for future use. I was considering putting them in a computer document and then I remembered I have a section on my blog I set up months ago for that exact thing. Nothing gets past me, I tell ya. I’m excited and nervous to start adding to that section in the near future. It’s an odd feeling of being fully confident in myself and equally terrified that I’m wrong and have misjudged my abilities. The same can be said when it comes to contemplating teaching as a profession. There’s the side of me that can see I was built for it and another part of me that wonders why and if I have to be. I sense some mental wrestling, a lot of prayers, and maybe meditation in my future.

But in the end, I admire those people who are willing to toss aside the planned location and the notion that the acquisition of any particular thing or achievement (job, car, house, marriage, children, promotion, perfect picture, etc) that coincides with their dream and its roadmap are the only way for them to be happy, content, or satisfied with their life and the most likely way for it to have worth. You often hear people encourage you to follow your dreams, but are we missing out by doing so? What if our destination is simply happiness with several possible routes and that we may not know the best one? Why not opt for the scenic route, take a detour, venture out, and see where it takes you?

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