Saying "No" to Where You've Been and "Yes" to Where You're Going

They always say, love will find you when you stop looking for it. They always say you get pregnant when you stop trying. I don't know who "they" are, but I'm starting to think they're really on to something. Justin was the last thing I was looking for when we strolled into each others' lives eight years ago. Yet, here we are. Eight years together, three years married, and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna keep him. (Disclaimer: *Before you all start freaking out, I am definitely not pregnant.*) But, something nearly just as life consuming found me while I was looking the opposite direction.

When I decided to go back to school three years ago, I had a plan. A whole big plan. I gathered a ton of information from college advisers, from other students, from friends and family, and I set out on the path I had decided was the best fit. I finished the first semester, and it felt great. I finished the second semester, and it all fell apart.

The path I was so sure of, and following oh so intently, got obliterated. More than once. In this order-- Program was cancelled. Found new program. Enrolled. Program was cancelled. Found new program. Enrolled. Lost all my funding. Said NO WAY. Dropped Out.

I'm a firm believer that life is just a long series of paths and pivot points, and it's what you do with the pivot points that determine where you end up. Think of it this way-- paths are driven by yes's, and pivot points are created by no's. I had definitely hit a pivot point. I am certain that I will never, not ever, forget the moment I said "no way." I was sitting in the financial adviser's office at Oklahoma City University, finding out that finishing my degree was going to cost $30,000 more than expected.

I hate crying in public. I HATE crying in front of strangers. But I did. A lot.

I had been so intent on following the path I had originally planned, that every time I had hit a bump or possible pivot point, (TWO cancelled programs, helloooo?), I just kept saying "yes" and moving forward. "Yes," even when my path started to look different from what I had intended....Until I got to that very moment, and saying "yes" was just not possible. I just couldn't. I'll never forget that "no" moment, (partially because I was an embarrassing soggy mess in front of a complete stranger), mostly because that one moment directly impacted the rest of my life.

At that point, I just wanted to finish school with a degree, basically any degree. I had worked too hard, and I'm just not fond of being a quitter. I honestly can't tell you exactly what pointed me to the Sociology program at the University of Central Oklahoma. I think it was a combination of several things. But, at the point that I finally said "no" to OCU and my original path, I said "yes" to this new path and started my first semester of Sociology classes at UCO.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with something? I mean, really fell in love with it. Maybe it was the first time you read a book and haven't been able to put it down since, maybe it was your first day of a new career that excited you to no end, maybe it was your spouse, or your kiddo and loving that person put life in a new perspective.

That's what found me. All of that. And I was caught so off guard by it.

Let me just say, I have loved a lot of things in my life, and I've been good at a lot of things, (humble side note-- I'm terrible at twice as many things). But in all my adventures thus far, nothing, absolutely nothing, set my soul on fire quite like this. From day one of sitting in these classes, engaging in these conversations, learning these things that were blowing my mind, I felt alive with purpose. I've never in my life felt my soul beaming so brightly. Immediately, I knew, without a doubt, that this is where life was supposed to take me. Not a single doubt. I think we are granted very few actual purposes in our lifetime, maybe even as few as just one. And if you are lucky enough to find one of them, or have one of them find you, you better hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

I have always been a curious person. I'm sure my parents would tell you I've been curious since I was old enough to wander. Part of that curiosity has always been questioning the way the world works, questioning the systems in place, wondering how it all works and how I could do it differently. That is very much who I am at my core. My independent spirit and against the grain attitude are very much a part of that.

That IS Sociology. Studying the deeply engrained and complex systems that make up the world we live in. Demographics, political systems, economics, human development, cultural norms....in short, it's all about what makes the world go 'round. And I dig it, (*understatement of the century*).

So what now? I'm saying "yes." I'm taking this path as far as it allows. I'm taking the GRE next month, and I'm going back to school. I want to go as far as I possibly can in this education. I'm willing to do everything I can to continue this path, because when you feel this connected to your soul and your true self, that's a feeling you never want to lose.

It's always funny to me the reactions I get when I tell people that I plan to continue, that I want to someday be a Doctor in the field of Sociology. Most people give their best sour face and respond with some form of "I could never..." And that's ok. Because it's hard to fully understand what sets someone else's soul on fire.

My purpose, is not anyone else's purpose, and vice versa. And that's something I think we could all stand to learn, about both ourselves and everyone else. Listen to your gut, know when to stop saying "yes" out of convenience, take advantage of the pivot points, let go of control, and let your passions find you. You never know, there could be a brand new purpose for your life just waiting to surprise you. You just may have to pivot to get there.

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