"This I Believe"
Family Gatherings always have an outcome that might as well be predicted by the flip of a coin. Heads, it goes south, and there is some prolonged damage, Tails, it goes north, and everybody is finally caught up on their relatives' past year. Either way, In my experience at least, knowing what to say, and who to say it to, will always give you the latter option. If your Aunt Cecilia comes to you, wondering what you did over the summer, you tell her you studied. Why? According to her, it's the only way you'll ever be successful. If your Uncle Josh comes and asks what you did last weekend, you tell him you were swamped with parties and were only able to make about 8 of them. He thinks everybody should know how to live a little. "It's the only way you'll ever be happy," He says.
These are real people in my life, and these are real questions and answers passed from myself, to them. Lying is not what I believe in. But I also don't believe in crying the whole hour and a half back from Columbus. In my experiences, with family and not, everyone has a set way of how the entire population is going to end up being happy. Every person is different, and no set thing is going to insure happiness from one body to the next. Your process of reaching "happy", will not be the same for any one else. No set religion, no set college, and no set amount of money, will make every single person, happy.
I walked into a room containing the bottom three lines of my family tree. I was immediately hugged by my grandmother, who said she was so glad to see me. "Oh my goodness! Look how grown-up you are!" She exclaimed. "I know, a Junior in high school, it's pretty crazy." She noted that soon I would be off to college and wondered which ones I had been looking at, along with what I was planning to be. I told her I was thinking about being a teacher, maybe even pursuing law school. "Why a teacher? Law-school suits you. You'll never be happy cleaning up after snotty kids all day. A lawyer. Now there's a real job." I nodded my head and found my way over to my mom. I told her about the conversation that just preceded me, and she explained that rarely will I find someone supportive of my teaching dreams. She said, "No one else can understand it because they don't have a love for it like you. They talk down on the career because they themselves couldn't do it."
This, though only happening last month, has shaped me to believe in what I do. I believe that happiness, and success, are both as unique as a social security number. Though some may be close, maybe even a single digit's difference, none will ever be identical.
So, as Uncle Josh would say, "Live ya life, kid."