enjoy the journey

jour·ney/ˈjərnē/

noun: an act of travelling from one place to another.
verb: travel somewhere.

synonyms: noun. trip – tour – travel – voyage – peregrination – run
verb. travel – tour – voyage – peregrinate – go – itinerate

I love the simplification of this definition.  To travel from one place to another.  A journey may be physical, where you jump in your car and see where the road takes you, or mental, where your thoughts/values/perceptions change.  One constant is movement.  Regardless of the type of journey you are on, you are in motion.

I have been thinking a lot about my own journey recently.  It might have something to do with my next birthday being a milestone birthday (the big 3-0).  I’ve thought about the journeys I have already been on, and if I could go back, would I do anything differently.  In some cases, yes.  I would have chosen different words, listened to my instincts and applied myself more (I’m thinking of my first two years of undergrad in particular).  On the other hand, every journey I have taken to date, has led me to today, so why would I want to change a thing?

Recently, a group of friends and I discussed where we were in our lives and if it is where we thought we would be at this stage in life.  Shockingly, or perhaps not so shocking at all, most of us said no.  We talked about the dreams and goals we had, and expectations of what life would bring.  Many noted that even though life hadn’t quite turned out as planned, it was still a wonderful life indeed, sometimes better than we had anticipated.  My main reason for saying “no, I am not where I expected to be” is because my husband and I are on year four of living apart.  In 2008, I took a job in another city, thinking that we would only be apart for a short time, no longer than a year.  Life has a way of mocking your plans though, and here we are, four years later, wondering how much longer we will have to live apart.  Many people I talk to ask how we do it, and tell me that they could not do it.  We didn’t think we could either, but you do.  You look at the cards you are dealt and find a way to make the best of the situation.  It hasn’t been easy, but we have actually come to appreciate each other much more than we did while we lived under the same roof.  We also tell ourselves that it could be much worse.  We’re only a two hour drive away and see each other every weekend.  We have a good life, with great family and friends, a beautiful home and a happy dog (who I feel will inspire a blog post sometime very soon).  We enjoy the work that we do.  Yes, it would be amazing to get to live together again, and we look forward to the day that that becomes a reality.  For now, we are trying to work through this journey together.

Getting to work with students (mostly in their first year of post-secondary education) is wonderful.  I love hearing about their plans, what they want to do when they graduate, and how they plan to use the skills they are learning today, tomorrow.   Having these conversations reminds me that our journeys are unending and ever-changing.  Often, they go in a completely different direction than anticipated or planned for, and when that happens, pay attention.  Look around at the things you would never have seen had your journey gone exactly the way you planned.

I encourage you to think back to when you left high school.  Regardless of what you did next, where did you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?  Are you there? Or are you somewhere completely different?  Take a minute to think about that.  Think about your 18-year-old self and what they wanted for you.  Compare that to where you are now. What’s changed? What’s stayed the same? How would you explain your change in course to that 18-year-old?

For what it’s worth, my 18-year-old self saw me as a criminal defence lawyer, climbing the ranks and making the big bucks.  Needless to say, I am on a completely different journey now 🙂 I’m curious to know what your 18-year-old self wanted to be.  Feel free to share!