Over the years I’ve been guilty of making jokes to lighten up my life choices – like the fact that I chose to become a waitress instead of going to college right after high school. In later years I even remember a student from my graduating class say, “I thought it was so cool that you decided to skip college.” Ha!  What funny stories we can spin on ourselves. And what interesting perceptions others have of us, too.

In reality, I didn’t have the money for college at that time, nor did I have the sense of what direction I wanted my life to go in when I was 17. It’s not that I was passionate about delivering chicken fingers to children (although I’ll admit that I do have a strong appreciation for poultry) or slinging buckets of beer to the old men who mumbled dirty comments to me under their breath. I was making a choice to achieve my independence. It’s the gritty beauty of being so young and determined that you succumb to the suffering. In what other circumstance would I end up living with a random roommate who I found on Craigslist  – let alone one with a humongous pet snake that would feed from rodents in our bathtub on Sunday nights?

Sometimes it’s so easy to look at a decision someone has made without ever considering the context in which that person has made that choice. The hard part about childhood is that there are no choices – not really, anyway; you have no say in the life you are born into. And when you do finally get the opportunity to start making your own choices, one’s starting point in life may not always seem fair or ideal.

In a letter my dad once said, “You’ve learned from your mistakes – though it’s not quite accurate to say ‘mistakes.’ It’s all in the living I guess. Who’s to say of anyone else that another one’s choices in life are, in fact, mistakes.” And, you know what – I think he’s right. 

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