Sunday, November 22, 2009

Best Laid Plans


There are so many clichés about making plans and setting goals for yourself. Something about having a "goal in life" is apparently supposed to make it easier to end up where you want yourself to be in life. I can personally attest that that is complete and utter bull sh*t.

I was 14 or 15 when I first laid out my life plans. Encouraged by an underpaid guidance counselor at my high school and teachers who were all trying to "lead me in the right direction", I scratched out a list of what it was that I wanted to accomplish in my life. It looked a little something like this:

1. Get out of this town.
2. Go to college somewhere great, like NYU or Berkeley
3. Get a masters or doctorate in creative writing.
4. See the world.
5. Have an amazing career, living in NYC and writing poetry.
6. Get married, preferably to Johnny Rzeznik (Singer of the Goo Goo Dolls).

I had plans. I never really stopped to consider if those plans were really my own or the echo of parents, friends, society with their notion of what defines success. But I was ambitious and I wanted to succeed.

My senior year in high school everything in my life was perfect and headed in the right direction. I was 17 and determined to start my life, my goals shifting slightly to include publishing a book of my poetry and going to college a little closer to home.

I sent in my applications and was accepted to a number to colleges, and was ready to start my life. I had my best laid plans all set out before me and I knew exactly where I was going to end up, even if the road had shifted from NYU to Penn State, I didn't care. My life was on track and I knew who I was and what I wanted.

One month after I got into my dream college, my father had an accident at work and broke his back, leaving him unable to do his job and my families bill unpaid. I did what any daughter would do in that situation. I freaked. I had a crappy part time job then working as the Burger King clown (I was in high school ok!!) and helped out financially as well as I could, but when it came time to send in the college the deposit for housing, it simple was not there to send.

And so I decided that I would take a year off before college and work and help out my family while my dad recovered. It was in this year that I had my rebellious streak, moved out of my parents house and in with my boyfriend and got engaged, pushing my plans back a little further. I've always known what I wanted and went after it. I'm impulsive. So when Mike asked me to be his Mrs. I said yes, and together we decided to get married as soon as possible seeing as there was no need for a long drawn out engagement. We were young and in love and knew that we would always be together. Like I said, impulsive.

Three months before our wedding we found out that I was pregnant, and then a month after that I almost miscarried. And right there, while holding on so desperately to that tiny heartbeat that laid beside my own, all of my best laid plans went out the window.

The scary thing about all those plans is that if soidmeone would have shown me this part of the destination, at least the part on paper, I'm positive I would have scoffed at it. No one plans to have not one but two extremely difficult pregnancies, go back to college full time while being a wife, mother, and working a crappy full time waitressing job, and then to develop an anxiety problem.

But if I did have to option to avoid the plans that have paved the road to my current life right now I would be missing out on the very few things that I am so sure of, my husband and my boys.

Nowadays my best laid plans are quite different.
1. Strive to be the best wife and mother that I can be.
2. Be happy.

I can say with certainty that it’s the unplanned things in my life that have proven to be the best.


  1. Oh yup... my life plans - the BEST ones I've had - were NOT on my list of things to do. If I had followed my list, I wouldn't have done a study abroad (that was a total impulse move on my part) and met my husband there, I wouldn't have had an unexpected pregnancy... wouldn't have spontaneously bought a house, started my own business, nothing!

    Who needs a list! All the best things in my life have been on the fly!

    Great post, Amanda! Thanks for reminding me not to be so anal about where I want to go in life... I'm happy right here!

  2. Even though I'm a planner by nature, I try not to get too far ahead of myself so I don't get frustrated when things don't go "according to plan". I was all set to go to the University of Southern California out of high school and my hubby was a student at Texas A&M on a full parents weren't able to come up with the funds to send me, so I stayed home (and LIVED at dorms) to go to the University of Hawaii and my hubby goofed off his freshman year and lost his he ended up joining the Air Force and coming to Hawaii. Had either of us kept on the track we had been heading down originally, we never would have even sometimes the universe knows better than we do!

    Thanks for sharing your story. As always you remind me to be happy about where I am :)


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