Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I'm not sure who first penned those words. The slogan has been around for years. I only wish I had heard it when I was in my teens and early twenties. Back then, I fretted over almost everything: am I tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, popular . . . the list was endless.
However, while my early years were challenging, my yearnings were no different from most young females. I wanted to be happy, loved, and respected. I wanted to know that I was worthy, that I mattered.
So, like most humans, I searched for a way to stand out in the crowd. My claim to fame was running. My passion for the sport started in middle school. While my five sisters learned how to care for a home or shop for the latest fashions, I spent my free time practicing sprints and ten mile runs. Nothing was more exhilarating than crossing the finish line in first place. This dedication lead to a spot on both my high school’s cross-country and track & field teams. I was even awarded a college scholarship, which I didn’t accept because of family drama (I’d leave that story for another blog posting).
I choose another path for my life. I joined the Unites States Army. This surprised everyone who knew me. I was rather shy. But a week into Basic Training at Fort Gordon, I realized I’d made the right decision. My quest for boldness had paid off. I thrived in this orderly environment. It gave me a sense of control, something my life lacked. When my training to become a Telecommunications Specialist finished, I went to my first duty station. The Army’s philosophy, Be All That You Can Be, really inspired me, so I didn’t waste any time joining the post’s track team. I even set a record in the two hundred meter hurdles. My love for the sport led me to mentoring a local youth track team. This was an experience I still cherish today. The teen girls were considered underprivileged, but boy, did they have heart and spirit.
Little did I know, sharing my gift changed me forever. At the time I wasn’t aware of anything grand happening. I was just living by instinct. Going about my day, day after day, hoping for the best like the rest of mankind. But I learned what it felt like to help and inspire other people. And I can honestly tell you it’s as wonderful as crossing a marathon finish line in first place.
Today, thirty years later, my race still continues. Only now that I’m older and much wiser, I look inward for approval. I no longer chase pettiness or doubt my decisions. I trust my instincts and allow a higher power to help and guide me. Even better, I live with an awareness that has taught me how silly it is to obsess about life’s challenges. When things get tough, I stop, take a breath, and remember the shy young woman who boldly left home and entered a world filled with nothing but unknowns. Then, I smile because I’m fine. No, not just fine. I’m thriving, happy, successful, and proud. I’m a mom, a wife, an author, a divine soul doing what she loves.
Every path I’ve taken in life led me to where I am at this moment. There were twists and turns and I had to backtrack and start over a few times, but it was the right path for me to learn and grow.
And just like me, every path you have taken or will take is the right path for you.
What revelations have you experienced along your journey?