I ran into a former student yesterday at the grocery store. She looked beautiful -- polished, adult, composed. At one point she said:
"I didn't end up where I thought I would."
I said, "You know, life takes you places that you didn't necessarily intend to go." We chatted for a few minutes and then parted ways.
I've been thinking about it, though, and about the things I wish I had said. What I should have said was this:
Life is tricky. It gives you gifts you could never have dreamed of and takes things from you that you could never imagine losing. It can make you doubt yourself. It can make you learn to believe in yourself. It can rob you of your trust and restore your faith.
You might not end up where you thought you would. I certainly didn't. But the place you find yourself? That's where you were meant to be, even if it's only a stepping stone to the next place and even if it's not where you envisioned yourself going.
Sometimes it's difficult, I won't lie. You will go to places that are hurtful. The pain, though, will always be balanced out by healing. Sorrow will always be balanced out by joy. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that.
And I should have said to her: The world still belongs to you. The future is still wide open. You can still get to that place, the one you thought you might want to go, if that's what you want.
We all can.