Sunday, March 17, 2013

The inevitable series of "what if?"s

The other night on our way to Medieval Times for a belated anniversary dinner, we passed Harper College.  The oldest, now already thinking of college even though she has yet to step foot in a high school, immediately asked us what kind of college it was.  We told her it was a junior college then proceeded to explain how people used them and how it was similar to McHenry County Community College which is much closer to us.  And for some reason I began explaining the concept of reciprocity agreements to her - that one could take a class at Harper even if you lived in Mchenry's district if that class was not offered at Mchenry - I am still unsure why I decided I had to explain this to her right at that very moment.  After a brief pause, she told us that she would never go to a community college.

And it was this conversation that got me thinking of every step and decision that I have taken on this road that has brought me to this place, this time - the series that have lead me here, and how different they could be if one path was taken instead of another.  When I look back as a whole, I am still amazed by the path that brought me here and I thought I would take this time to review the what ifs that I have had along the way.

The conversation of course got me thinking. I went to community college after high school, because I was not entirely sure how I would like college, but I had an offer to attend Winona University immediately after college.  And I wonder what would have happened had I accepted that offer.  Would I have gone forward and simply become the genetic counselor I had in my mind?  I certainly would have never ended up at Southern Illinois, which means I would have never failed, which means I would have never considered any alternative.  I am grateful for my time at CLC though - as it taught me that I could believe in myself again.  Havings toggled in highs chool to be average, it was nice to be above average and have the grades to back it up.  It was nice to be surrounded by peopelw ho were with me in my struggle.

And what if I had gotten stubborn at College of Lake County?  What if I had not gotten scared of the idea of having two majors or frustrated at not finding anyone who knew where I wanted to go?  Where would my path have led then?  I probably would not have gone to Southern, I would have ended up somewhere else.  I would not have met  my husband, I would not have had to endure the trial of Southern.  But if I had not endured that trial, I would not have gained from that experience.  For as hard as it was to be scrutinized, to received death threats and to struggle in something I thought would be not such a struggle - I would not have learned to fight for what I want, what I truly want.  I also learned not to settle as settling leads in my case to struggle - I learned to accept my destiny, not knowing at the time where it would lead me.

What if the lady at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign had been nice to me that day I walked into the admission office with a sealed transcript when we visited?  What if she had not looked at me like I did not belong there and what if she had not been condescending when she told me they would need my ACT and it had to be above a 22 (it was)?  What if my parents had not decided to keep going down to Southern and I had instead attended Columbia in Chicago? The same series of events could apply as above and I have no doubt I would not be where I am today.

This has been such an incredible journey, each fork navigated, each improbability overcome.  So for those who say you can never go to medical school with failing grades, I say yes it is possible with a lot of determination and will.  For those who say you can not go to medical school with community college classes as part of your prerequisites I say you can.  To those who say you are too old - I say you are never too old to pursue your dream and your passion.

And for this journey, this remarkable journey that has taken me here, I am incredibly grateful.  Even things that seemed like a misstep or a detour at the time proved to be a learning experience.  In fact I was telling someone that the other day - even if you do not know why you are where you are at the time it will eventually become clear what you were supposed to learn and gather, even if it is not obvious at the time.

May those of you still on this journey know that if you falter, it is not the end and may you be grateful for the lessons learned.