The year was 2001, I was 16 years old. The world was at my finger tips, I was going to be an award winning journalist, I was a sophomore in high school, rising in the ranks of JROTC and was deeply in love with my now-husband, Kris. I can vaguely remember passing through the halls of the school, with nothing more important on my mind than what I’d wear the next day, ridicule from other students, and how to get better food from the lunch ladies (with whom I worked one period every day) instead of the traditional lunch food.
Would I imagine that I’d have actually married Kris? That I’d have eloped, moved to California my sophomore year of college, and then returned back to the tundra that is South Dakota? Not in a million years. When I was 16, I was planning on going to the University of South Dakota (which I started my first two years of college), would write for the Argus Leader (local news paper) and was toying with the idea of writing a novel, something trashy and romantic more than likely. I was also going to become independently wealthy and get to travel the world as my fame as an amazing journalist increased, probably to archaeological sites (because, well, why not, right?) and would turn into my own version of Lara Croft: Tombraider (the Angelina Jolie version, naturally, despite me being 2″ shorter, blond and fair skinned).
Have I ended up where I planned? Not necessarily. Is it better than what I thought my life would be like? In this moment I can say without any hesitation that Yes, my life is better now than it would have been had I remained on my original path. I love writing, absolutely and utterly. Would I want to rely on me having a moment of brilliant insight to put bread on the table? Not a chance. In some ways I’ve become more daring; riding motorcycles, working on mechanics, handling relations with a multi-million dollar enterprise, but in the same token, am much more cautious. It’s better to have a stable position than one that is reliant on being unquestionably creative every single day, regardless of how I may feel. It’s also better to be with my best friend, surrounded by pets, than to be alone wandering in the world (current impression, obviously). My life may fall into the “norm”, but on a daily basis it feels anything but mundane. I love my job, which I never would have discovered if not for marrying my high school sweetheart, which never would have happened if he had not come back when I was 19 for other reasons of his own.
All in all, I’m happy where I am now, even though it’s completely different from where I was going to be (according to the 16 year old version of myself). I think if I went back and met her, she’d think I was pretty cool