When I was younger, I took gymnastics lessons for about three years. I absolutely loved it. When I was living in Arkansas, I was one of the best gymnasts in my class, and I was the only one who could do a round-off back handspring. When my dad retired from the Air Force and we moved to South Carolina, I didn’t sign up to take lessons again. It became a bit of a hassle to keep up with lessons when we were moving all the time.
I randomly think about how my parents let me quit gymnastics and sometimes wish that they would have insisted that I sign up again. I didn’t have many hobbies growing up. I didn’t play an instrument or play any team sports. I didn’t join the choir or participate in theater. Gymnastics was my one thing, and I just let it go.
And that’s okay.
If I had joined a gymnastics class in South Carolina, I may not have met some of my best friends. I may not have gone sailing alongside dolphins on my friend’s boat. I may not have visited the Alzheimer’s unit at a nursing home. I may not have gone to New York with my eighth grade Advanced Art class and seen my first Broadway show. I may not have gotten my first job at the age of fifteen working as a grocery store bagger. I may not have had my first kiss in the stairwell of that same grocery store.
It’s amazing how one decision really can impact the rest of your life.
When I was about to turn sixteen-years-old, I decided to move to Louisiana to live with my mom, step-dad, and younger sister. I wasn’t a big fan of the city and thought about going back to South Carolina after just one semester in high school, but I didn’t, and I couldn’t imagine what my life would look like if I had. I wouldn’t have gone to Louisiana Tech where I came out of my shell and gained more confidence. I wouldn’t have been a bridesmaid in my friend, Sarah’s, wedding. I wouldn’t have spent a year working on a cruise ship. I wouldn’t have met any of the amazing people that I’m so incredibly lucky to have in my life. My life would look completely different, and I could potentially be a person that I wouldn’t even recognize.
There are some opportunities that I feel like I missed out on. Smaller ones like not going to a concert I really wanted to go to and bigger ones like creating a savings account when I was in high school, but every misstep, every missed opportunity, every failure, and every mistake led me to where I am today.
It’s okay to fail because it’s not really failing if you learn from it. It’s okay to be rejected because something better is going to come along, even if it takes longer than you want it to. It’s okay to miss an opportunity because it’s not the last one you’re going to get. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put your heart into everything you do. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take chances. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t embrace the opportunities that come your way, because you should. It means that just because you look back on something and wish you had made a different choice, also think about how if you had, you may not have the dream job you always wanted or you may not have married the person of your dreams. You may not be a parent to the most incredible child you could ever wish for. You may not have met your best friend or discovered your happy place or gotten fit or achieved a goal or made some incredible memories.
I’m a big believer in not letting life pass you by, but if you slip up a time or two, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to fantasize about an opportunity you wish you had taken, but don’t forget to be thankful for everything that led you to your happiness and the things that make your everyday life that much more beautiful.
What are some things that make your life more beautiful?