The Road Not Taken

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Now that I am firmly in my thirties (by about 200 days) I often find myself thinking about the road not taken. Whether it was my career choice, the choice to leave my career, someone I dated, and or moving away from the town I called home, I find myself wondering if I made the right choices in my life. Don't get me wrong I love how things turned out and where I am at right now, but I must admit that I sometimes find myself sometimes romanticising my "former" life. You know the one, the pre-kids, or pre-husband life. The one where the whole world was wide open and although it was scary there was something exhilarating about the unknown and knowing that you had your whole life in front of you.

I remember countless nights sitting with friends talking about who we would marry (was it the guy I was at the time obsessed with, or some unknown stranger,) wondering what my kids would look like (I wanted a blue eyed blond hair girl,) and how my career would turn out (I was pretty positive that I would be the Angie Harmon character from Law and Order.) All of these things were just dreams 10 years ago and now when I wake up I realize that my life is pretty much decided. I got the husband part right (who fell into the "unknown" category) the baby (except for the girl part,) and while I definitely wasn't Angie Harmon I still have very fond memories of my time at the DA's office. I got almost everything I wished for yet I can't help thinking about the what ifs.

What if I had married someone else, what if I had chosen another career that was more family friendly, i.e. one that I could do part time, what if we moved back to California when we had the chance, what if I hadn't decided to stay home would I still love my job as much as I remember loving it? What if, what if, what if. I guess my question is how much "whatifing" is good, and how much of it just keeps you living in the past? I know I'm not the only one out there who has these thoughts and lately I have had many of those "grass is always greener" talks. Part of me thinks that it is healthy to have these thoughts and to evaluate your life and how you go there. Otherwise how are you going to know where you are going?

The problem, I now realize, is that after a few years the reality of a situation becomes muddy and I truly believe that we often insert positive memories into places where we have forgotten the actual details. A person, place, or thing can take on more meaning that they ever actually had, and we forget why we made the choice we did in the first place. I am the first to admit I have a very creative imagination and I absolutely color things with a more positive spin than they may be owed.

Recently having gone back home, seeing people from my past, and also spending some time with people from my work life I am staring to realize that the life "in my head" is very different that the "real life" that I would be living had I gone a different route. While I may have these romantic notions about how my life would have been, I can say with 100 percent certainty that I am better off having made the choices that I made. Were they the right choices? I guess I will never know, but in the end they are my choices and I realize that I am lucky to have such an amazing husband and son, and a life that allows me to spend all of my time with the both of them. I also have an awesome healthy family, and some pretty kick ass girlfriends. What more could one person ask for? The road not taken may have turned out better, but the more likely possibility is that it would have turned out much, much worse.

The bottom line is that I'm done living in the past, and unlike when I was in my 20's I don't want to live in the future. I think for the first time I am going to see what it is live more in the now and know that the choices I made were made for a reason, even if I can't remember what that reason was. For me I think it's important to take off the rose colored glasses and to try to remember people and places for what they were (and are) and everyday be more confident in the decisions that I made. This quote says it all.
You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. ~Jan Glidewell
Amen to that.

How do all of you deal with "road not taken?"

(Photo Credit: From Here)


Jodi said...

A major turning point for me was the degree I picked in college. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had gotten degrees in accounting or finance related fields ones that make more money then my current position (I could barely survive on my own.) I never would have met dh or had the twins-I met dh at microbiology lab job.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Yum,

This is my first time commenting - this post reminded me of another blog I visit - one that you also might enjoy about an ex-lawyer/writer/mommy in the city:

NellaGrl2010 said...

I always think of the what if's. I'm still pretty young and still have my whole life ahead of me. I may not be married or have kids yet but I am going to college. Something I thought I'd never do. I was going to be married this month but that didn't work out - and I always catch myself thinking about the what if's but I snap myself out of it and tell myself today is what matters. The past has made you who you are today :).

Kriss said...

There are times I wonder about what if I had done this instead of this..... yet in the end I love my current life so much (married highschool sweetheart at 21, adopted three children after infertility, quit my job to stay home with them, etc, etc, etc) that I can't imagine taking another patch. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the things that aren't working for us (take infertility for instance) then we tend to focus on those roads not taken. I think once you aren't in limbo anymore...will I get pregnant...won't I get might not focus on it so much. ((Hugs))

Jo said...

Looking back is natural but let's face it, it's not too late to have the baby girl (well, 50/50 chance on that), return to law, or move to Cali. (the husband, well, that die is cast). Personally, I've looked back at my 20s -- when I was partying and carefree-- but life is made up of chapters and this chapter's not too bad. I now fox hunt and party with several couples whose ages range from 40s to late -60s....we're the only ones in our 30's (and with little kids). our friends gallop around the countryside, travel and party their asses off. The 20s are long gone for them but they still have a great time.

Anonymous said...

As the very wise Edna Mode once said "I never look back, it distracts from the now." If you're constantly looking back at what might have been, you're not appreciating/improving/embracing what is.