On a random whim today I looked up an old childhood friend. We're talking from waaaay back, like pre-k back, childhood BFF. I figured it would be pretty much impossible to find her because, really, it's a big big world (points to anyone who knows that one) and her name isn't all that uncommon. Imagine my surprise when I was able to track her down in less than 30 minutes, and confirm it was definitely her in less than an hour. You know why?
Because she has a career.
Because she has made something of herself.
Because she has done something with her life that has actually had impact.
I'll admit it helped that she's still using her maiden name. But basically, she's worked hard and her name is out there for all the world to see.
I had a fleeting thought about contacting her but dismissed that readily. After all, what would I say to her? "Hi, not to be stalkerish or anything, but this is the girl you were friends with back in preschool. I moved away, we kept in touch for a few years, letters, visits, blah blah, do you remember me? You do? Awesome. How did I find you? Oh, well, your career in the sports world made it pretty easy for me to track you down. No, I swear I'm not a stalker! You just kinda randomly popped into my head and I decided to see if I could find you, just to say hi. No, I've got nothing better to do. No, I pretty much don't have a life. You do? Well okay then, have a good one, gotta go, bye!"
Yeah. That wouldn't be awkward at all.
Honestly though, there was no way in hell I was going to drop her an email. And my whole instantaneous rejection of the idea of contacting her got me to thinking. Why? What would be so bad about just sending a short-but-sweet message?
But I knew why.
I don't want to tell her about my life. I don't want to admit that while she went to college on a gymnastics scholarship, I had a baby at 17 and trashed my high school GPA. I don't want to admit that while she earned her bachelor's degree, I chose to work full-time at some random job and dropped out of community college. I don't want to admit that while she built a career and worked on her master's degree, I continued to flounder around in the working world, trying to make my way up the administrative assistant ladder. I don't want to admit that while she followed her dreams, I let mine die, smothered under the weight of bills and jobs and family responsibilities.
I am ashamed of myself.
I feel like that's a horrible thing to say. After all, I am completely blessed. I have an amazing, utterly wonderful husband. He is my heart and my soul and the love we have is more than I ever dreamed possible. I have two gorgeous, healthy, incredible children. They are my living, breathing miracles, the personification of everything that is wondrous in this world. The three of them are, quite simply, everything to me.
Material things? Got those too. A home. A job, a car, cable and a cell phone. A laptop with high-speed internet connection. I may be on a budget, but at least there's enough money in my bank account to create a budget. I'm going on vacation next month, for God's sake.
My life is not bereft.
But the things in my life that I am proud of, the things that I feel lucky about, did not come from me. They are not things I had to work for. Not things I earned or achieved. Everything that is good in my life was given to me; whether by fate or a quirk or the grace of God, everything important has come to me without any effort on my part.
But my education? Nothing. Wasted potential. My career? Non-existent. Wasted potential.
Just ... wasted. I've done nothing with myself. Nothing my parents can be proud of, nothing for my children to look up to, nothing for my husband to brag about.
Nothing that gives me an ounce of satisfaction with myself, with my efforts. I can't even say, hey, I tried dammit. Because I didn't try. I just dropped out. I feel like such a loser, sitting here at almost 32 years old with no education and no career.
Of all the things that make me unhappy about myself - my weight, my fitness, my housekeeping ability, my appearance, my bumbling social skills - my lack of a college degree and career are the only things that I feel like I had 100% control over and simply blew. Things could have been so different, if only ... if only.
It's all on me.
There are no excuses. Nothing for me to hide behind. No one for me to blame but myself. I stand alone, pulled down by the weight of my own shortcomings.
The thought of shouldering these regrets for the rest of my life makes me want to sink down to the ground and weep. The weight of this burden is unbearable heavy, yet I see no way to change this outcome. I am held fast by the extraordinary realities of my life - chains that I willingly embrace and clutch tightly to my heart. I unequivocally refuse to give up an inch of what I have been given.
But oh, the yearning, the sheer ache, for what could have, should have, been earned.