This I Believe

Heather - Seattle, Washington
Entered on November 1, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Many times I’ve heard myself say, “I wish there was a map for my life!” I feel more comfortable when I have a clearly defined plan to follow, a list of steps to perform or a rule to reference. I want life to happen seamlessly…I want to make decisions that I KNOW will yield the best outcome and ultimately lead to “Happily Ever After.” I don’t like surprises. In fact: I hate surprises. But with each surprise that comes I realize more and more that this life, this beautiful life that we only live once is given its flavor, its fun, and its wonder because of the unexpected. I’m proud to say that I believe in surprises.

It used to be insufferable for me when plans fell through. I still get emotional when I remember a chilly day toward the end of summer when my father sat us down in the living room for the only formal “meeting” we’d ever held as a family and told us that he was out of a job. That meant that since money would be tight for a while, I wouldn’t be able to return to the private college I attended. It may as well have been the end of the world. What about my friends? What about that Hollywood screenwriting internship I so badly wanted? What about college at all? What about the rest of my life? Sounds melodramatic, but for a girl that loved for life to follow a clearly defined path it felt positively bleak.

BUT – if I’d gone back to school, I wouldn’t have had lunch with my mom one March afternoon when a man I’d never met before appeared at our table and told me that he’d been watching me from across the restaurant and would like to take me out on a date some time. If we’d never met, if I’d never been surprised, I wouldn’t be married to him today. Without surprises, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with greatest man I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t have accepted an unexpectedly great job where I met the wonderful friends that invited my husband and me to honeymoon with them in Greece. There are so many blessings that I’d have missed out on if I’d missed out on surprises.

Now I believe that surprises, the type of surprises that force me to reevaluate my future, to grit my teeth and try a new course ultimately make me who I am. Being surprised, being caught off guard, having to throw my plans out the window and wing it on an unmarked path means that I’m able to say, “I made it, even when things looked bleak! I made it work, even when I didn’t know what would happen next. I AM living “happily ever after,” even without a plan.”

I don’t know how every day will turn out. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now. But I know that I’ll be surprised. And that’s worth believing in.