Don’s Plan to Be Happy

Jennifer - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 15, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that living life is much more important than planning it. I am twenty-nine years old and I am nowhere near the place I thought I would be. I had a plan. It was a rough and simple plan, but a plan. By now I would be married to a great guy, have a couple of kids, a nice house and a dog. Perhaps I would have a job, but my husband was going to earn plenty of money, so that I could choose to be a stay-at-home mom, just like my mom.

By the winter of 2002, things were going according to plan. I was twenty-three and set to be married on December 7th. Since being married on Pearl Harbor Day might be bad luck, we moved the wedding to December 14th. The following summer I was pregnant. We didn’t have a house or dog yet, but they were in the works.

Later that year, just before our first anniversary, when I was around six months along in my pregnancy, my husband came up with the brilliant idea of moving into his mother’s basement: to save for our dream house. December 14, 2003, the morning we were supposed to begin celebrating being married for a whole year, he packed us up and we moved. I cleaned out my savings of $3,000 to pay our way out of our apartment lease.

Two weeks later, the day after Christmas, we were watching TV in my mother-in-law’s half- finished basement, careful not to not sit under the dripping pipes. The man of my dreams who I was going to spend my life with didn’t look at me when he said, “I don’t want to be married. I feel trapped.”

Huh? Everything was going great as far as I knew. I was wrong. Apparently. Suddenly I was homeless, moneyless, pregnant, and all of my plans were trashed.

After a while, I stopped crying. I realized that I mourned the ruin of my careful planning more than the actual loss of my marriage. The problem became that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I suddenly had no direction, no deadlines for my life. It was terrifying. I had no plan.

Since I had to do something, I just thought about what I wanted to do and could do. I started taking things as they came.

Four years later, I am working at a great job, and about to graduate college. How I managed it? I don’t know.

My daughter is in pre-school and is a very happy, smart, beautiful little girl. I am dating and I have a cat. I am much more relaxed than I used to be. I no longer look at things in terms of what needs to get done and by when. Things have fallen into place: maybe not the place I originally intended, but a wonderful place anyway.

You can’t plan to be happy. If you’re lucky, you just end up where I am.