Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fiver: Momentary Setbacks

Sometimes an event or situation that seems horrible at the time turns into a blessing.  Either you learn from it or a better and unexpected door opens.  I've certainly had my share of these.  Here are the top five.

1.  Staying single throughout high school and college.

I think I've mentioned it before, but I was hella boy crazy in high school and college.  My crush list from those days (yes, I kept a list) is crazy long. I remember all those disappointments when I would be rejected, directly or indirectly, and I'd wonder if I'd ever meet someone.  Looking back at some of those names, I realize those guys were not right for me at all (obviously).  Some of them have proven to be people I'd be incompatible with.  Moreover, staying single through high school allowed me to choose the college that was right for me (and not the one that was conveniently close to my boyfriend).  Not being attached in college gave me the freedom to move anywhere I wanted after I got my degree. 

2.  Not getting into my first choice college.

I grew up an avid Iowa State fan. I always planned to go on to school in Ames, and I'm pretty sure Jamie and I cruised campus town more than once, talking about all the trouble we could get into together at ISU.  But, I wasn't accepted to ISU. I was unaware I needed to take chemistry in high school to make admission requirements. I had taken advanced biology instead.  As a result, I had to broaden my college search.  Mark Shea, a rep from Buena Vista University, was visiting my school during a class I didn't particularly want to attend.  So I went to the Mark Shea session instead.  A few weeks later, I went on an overnight campus visit in Storm Lake, and instantly loved the beautiful setting.  BVU continued to win me over with friendly students throughout campus, a great tour guide and really fun hostesses.  BVU ended up being the perfect place for me.  It offered me fantastic opportunities to explore my writing and career options, and I met people there who will be fixtures in my life forever.  Even though I'll be paying for that degree for a few more years, I have no regrets about my college choice.

3.  Not finding a job in Iowa after college.

I really wanted to stay in Iowa (or at least the Midwest) after college.  There was a security in being close to my family and in areas with which I was familiar.  But after sending out 100+ resumes with no luck, I decided I need to cast my net elsewhere.  I had two friends in Texas, so I decided to give the Lone Star State a little attention.  I sent out just 12 resumes there and had two interviews within weeks.  I took that as a sign.  Labor Day weekend of 2002, I loaded up my purple Neon with the things I would need immediately and things I didn't trust in a truck and began my trek to Corsicana, Texas.  It was just my first of two stops in Texas.  My four years there were filled with challenges and good times.  If I hadn't moved there, I would not have met some of the most fascinating people I did, including a dozen or so lifelong friends.  I also probably would not have fallen in love with baseball and the Texas Rangers.  Sure, they're breaking my heart this week, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

4.  Getting fired from my first job.

Jan. 18, 2004 was the second most devastating day of my time in Texas (the first would definitely be the day Amy died).  I arrived at work early only to be sent home a short while later.  Without going into too much detail (because I still respect that employer and am grateful for the time I spent there), I was not meeting their expectations, so I was terminated.  Naturally, the first thing I did was call my mom.  (Note to friends -- don't ever call your mother bawling if you're hundreds of miles away.  It's not a good idea.)  The next thing I did was get in touch with Carole, who had become a good friend during my time there.  She insisted I spend the day with her. I told her I would just be crying all day, and she said, "well, you can cry if you want, but you're not going to cry alone."  The next few weeks were very trying.  Unemployment was awful.  I hated having nowhere to be in the morning, and job searching was such a drag. I started freelancing for another newspaper and ended up landing a full-time job there.  I moved to Ennis in the spring of 2004, and that was another great adventure.  It really all worked out for the best.

5.  Surprise heartbreak.

A little over a year ago, I learned about the engagement of someone I thought I was over.  Physical pain ensued. It was unexpected.  Like I said, I thought I was over him.  I still think I was over him, but for some reason, the thought of him marrying someone else was still painful.  Wine and ice cream (not together) were my companions over the next few weeks.  I pretty much hid away from everyone, only leaving the house for work.  Then, my brother invited me to come to his bar in Ames to see a band.  He thought I'd really like their sound.  I was hesitant to leave my house, but I had long since discovered the healing powers of good music, so I made the drive over to Headliners.  Fifteen months and seven shows later, Tim Stop Trio has provided me more happiness through their music than that stupid boy ever could have.  Thank goodness for music.


  1. This post shows how perfect your blog's title is. Your vulnerable writing is admirable and a valuable reminder that things aren't always how they look from the outside.

    I thought your writing career had been rising smoothly and steadily, when you actually had to fight hard to get where you are today. Good for you, and thank you for sharing your setbacks.

  2. It's so great that you can look back on these shitty times and think positive thoughts about them. Being fired was definitely the hardest for me (is still hard for me to admit even though I only worked there for a day and I was about to go through the worst break up of my life!).


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