It is amazing how one's life can change in the course of a year. Twelve months ago today I was preparing to leave the home I had known for the past three years and say goodbye to the amazing friends I had made there. If someone told me that I would be enjoying my 27th birthday with some of those same friends by my side, I wouldn't have believed it. After all, we would soon be living in multiple different places, spread out between two countries. And I was moving back to Minnesota with no clear picture of what I was going to do there--a disconcerting thought to say the least.
I used to be a planner. From my profession (a veterinarian) to the number of horses I would have (4), my life was drawn out like a story book from the age of five. I took solace in knowing the title of the next chapter and exactly how many pages it contained. My goals were more or less written in stone with no foreseeable obstacles keeping me from chiseling in completion checkmarks one by one. Fifteen years of planning were suddenly thrown to the wind as I decided in my 3rd year of college that graduate school in Canada would be a better fit for me than vet school in the midwest USA. My concrete goals weren't as indestructible as I had thought, and to say I was anxious about this decision (i.e. lack of planning) would be an enormous understatement. For one of the first times in my life, I was questioning not only my immediate plans, but the plans I had made for the rest of my life. Was giving up vet school the right choice? I just couldn't shake the feeling that decisions could only be viewed as "right" or "wrong," and there was no way to know what to choose except through experience, by which time it would be too late.
Moving to Canada brought with it so many new and different experiences, and I soon realized that I may never know if I made the "right" choice, but I was confident that it was a good one. My entire outlook--including the way I set my goals--had changed. My time here required flexibility, an open mind, but most importantly an open heart. I still write my goals down, but on a medium more malleable than stone. They became adjustable...amendable. I found myself becoming more adjustable too, and discovered how happy and free I felt by keeping parts of my life as a blank slate--ready and waiting for whatever adventure presented itself. It was difficult to maintain this mantra when I made the decision to move back to Minnesota. As much as I struggled to avoid categorizing this decision as right or wrong, I couldn't help but think it was the latter. Six months of job hunting in my home state proved to be difficult and not without some regrets. But I met wonderful new friends and rekindled old friendships as well. My time at home also showed me just how much I needed to rebuild my own soul. I may not have had a plan for myself, but my life had a plan for me.
And before I knew it, I was on my way back to Alberta to start a new job--this time with some past experiences of an old life, but with a fresh outlook to enjoy a completely different one. It's been unexpected at times and hasn't been without its challenges, but as I sit here now, with my friends from multiple different places by my side and the sun on my shoulders, I'm not worried about whether or not the choice was right or wrong. I'm happier than I've been in a long time and that's all that matters.