Though I never doubted my decision, moving out to California for grad school was rough—Rod-Stewart's-voice rough. I tell you this story to help make your own life path smoother and more adventurous.
That last week or two before I left Michigan was downright brutal. What made it rough was not so much the sadness of leaving, the scorching heat, the screaming headaches, or the scolding loved ones. What made it rough was not realizing all of these things were to be expected.
There comes a point when you stop trying to live inside other people's comfort zones—when the scorching disapproval of others is nothing compared with the mounting frustration of staying where you are.
Ultimate Reminder #1: Growth doesn't tickle. Grow anyway. The benefits you reap will last a lifetime.
For me, those benefits included trading snow for palm trees and living near my brother Jim's family. My nephew James, who was twelve at the time, made me a purple "welcome" card that I hope one day to be buried with. On the cover, he drew a huge house with a sun rising out from behind. At the top of the card he wrote, "It is a new beginning for all of us."
They'll probably put that on my tombstone.
Ultimate Reminder #2: Savor the kind words that come your way. These too can propel you for a lifetime. (And let's face it, there's something priceless about twelve-year-old-boy handwriting.)
But I didn't start out to tell you about James. I started out to tell you about my sister-in-law Kim (James' mom). One night in the midst all that pre-departure drama, she and I were talking on the phone.
At one point Kim said something so simple and matter of fact, I started to believe it myself: "You're going to do great out here."
Grammar aside, I did pretty good. For the first time in my life, I earned straight A's. I discovered I could cook and had fun hosting friends for dinner. I made new friends while keeping the one I had. I took a butt-kicking course in self-defense.
And when I accepted the job offer of my dreams, the same week I was named Outstanding Student of the Year, my brother Jim said, "You really kicked ass out here, didn't you?" I keep meaning to get that embroidered on a pillow.
Ultimate Reminder #3: There's always someone to encourage you. The key is to seek encouragement where it can be found—and let go of the places where it can't.
Fast forward to last Thursday night. Jim & Kim and my mom and I have just come from an event at Father Joe's Villages in downtown San Diego. If you ever want to see what makes God smile and at the same time rips His heart out, just take a tour of Father Joe's. The cool night air on our way back to the car never felt better.
Still hungry and a little overwhelmed, the four of us decided to stop on the way home for a bite to eat. As we ate and talked and decompressed, I thought of that Anne Lamott line, "Maybe it's not much of a life, but it's our life. It's all so absolutely amazing."
Who are the people who make your life amazing?
Chances are they're the ones who believed in you even before you believed in yourself, and kept on believing in you even after you did. Now it's your turn and mine to share that encouragement with someone else.
It's a banner day when you stop trying to live inside other people's comfort zones.
— Gina DeLapa