I was never one to plan my future as a teen and young adult. I didn't graduate high school with much direction. I was working at a local grocery store and hadn't applied to any colleges. I think I figured that I would eventually go to college but didn't enroll in the fall semester. I switched to working over-nights after high school ended and was excelling; by the end of the year I was the #1 night manager.
Luckily a couple of other things were happening in my life. First was my roommate. He was attending the local community college. I was seeing that he was going to school while working full time. The second thing was that my Mom worked at the same grocery store chain. She had worked there for nearly 10 years at that point but could hardly afford to live on her own. I realized then that I didn't want to get stuck in the grocery business and enrolled in the local community college the following spring.
Around this time was when my wife and I started dating. It still seems a bit inconceivable that we two fell in love and got married, but after a year of dating I proposed and a few months later we tied the knot. In July we will have been married 10 years, 1/3 of my life and defiantly the best third.
When she graduated college and got a grown up job, I left the grocery business and was able to finish graduate school by taking on a full load of classes plus some. I finished my 6 year degree in 6 years from high school, but I had to cram both years of graduate school into two semesters to get it done. But get it done I did and was quite satisfied with myself getting one of the first Master's degrees in my family. Both of my older brothers (probably feeling quite embarrassed) eventually went on to get theirs too--copy cats.
During my last semester and through the summer I went on a half dozen interviews. Some of them went really well and others seemed to go poorly. The one that I felt went the worst was the one that offered me the job and since it was my lone offer, I took it. It turns out that it is the perfect job for me. The independent work complimented my aptitudes and the hours fit my lifestyle: 8-5, no overtime, every other Friday off.
Six months into the job, we were expecting our daughter and by her first birthday we were expecting my son. I would have never expected it earlier in life, but I love having kids. I don't love kids in general, but my kids, I can't imagine not loving them and sharing all of their life experiences with them. I kiss them both before I go to bed and I want to always do this. Some nights I'm tired and already curled up in bed and don't want to get out of bed to kiss the most peaceful versions of themselves, but I do so that I don't fall out of habit. They are awesome and have taught me more about the meaning of life than anything else.
A few years ago I had a goal to own a house by the time I turned 30. We moved to a lower income apartment and saved almost every penny. Last year we went house hunting and were discouraged as every house sold before we had a shot. We disliked our realtor and lender and seller but we were still able to find a house; our home. I love our crooked house and all the memories that we will make here.
So 18 year old me, without a formal plan, executed life the only way he could have to get me here to the place where I've got everything I need. I've got a wonderful wife, awesome children, a safe home, and a bunch of amazing people in our lives that love and care very much for us.
One of my only regrets (and regret isn't quite the right word) is that I was unable to harness and grow relationships better with some of those whose lives drifted away from mine. In some cases I feel like I could have done a little bit more, but others were more inevitable. I've come to discover that the people in your life are the secret to happiness and you have to hold on to those that make you a better person. I've done a fairly good job, but could have done a bit better.
Looking forward will be all about building on what we've got. I want to spend more time enjoying those who love us and less time worrying about the little things. I'd also like to keep in mind two pieces of advice from the Netflix show Derek. The first is "always get up." It's a simple solution for some of life's most complex problems. The second is "kindness is magic." The magical thing about kindness is that it makes you feel good, whether your on the giving or receiving. The world could use a little more of it and above all else, kindness is the thing I want to instill in our children.
Thanks for reading. Here's to the next 30.