The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

Potential – It’s All Still Ahead

It’s as if I’m in a time machine when I walk around my old college campus.  I look at the students and remember what it was like to be so young and vibrant, my whole life in front of me.  Walking across the lush lawn with the summer sun on my face, those old emotions come bubbling up…I feel…

Unhappy.  Timid.  Unattractive.   

Yeah, I was a mess during college.  I was so insecure that I seldom spoke in class and I changed my major from psychology (which I loved) to art (which I thought would be easy) because I didn’t think I could pass statistics.  I was absorbed in my boy-friendless state, my self-doubt, and my weight (of course, I’d give anything to be my college “fat weight” now).  Sure, there were lots of fun times during those years, but underneath it all I carried with me an emptiness that could only be filled by whatever I didn’t have.

Now, at the age of 56, it’s tempting to take the perspective that those years were “it” – that they were my one chance, and what did I do?  I wasted them in self pity and fear.

But this morning as I walked to the store I passed someone in their 70’s whose pace was slow and cautious.  I suddenly found myself wondering – do they look at me the same way I looked at those students on my old campus?  Do they wish they had my health and strength as I glide past them?  Are they envying the potential in my life – so many years left to enjoy, to learn and grow?   And then I wonder, is there someone in their 90’s that looks at them the same way? 

What I realized in that moment is that potential is eternal.  No matter where we are in our lives there’s promise – new things to do, lessons to learn, talents to explore or deepen.   Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first book until she was 65 and Julia Child’s first cookbook came out when she was 49.  Whether we’re 17 or 70, we still have much left to do.   

Sure, I would have loved to have been that confident student who made the most out of everything college had to offer. But I don’t want to waste what’s available to me now by regretting what I didn’t do back then.  I want to make sure that I’m doing everything possible to make the most of my life today. 

As George Eliot said “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

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11 responses to “Potential – It’s All Still Ahead

  1. Dawnika July 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you!

  2. Jenny July 28, 2010 at 6:30 am

    I received a much needed message. Thank you!

  3. Lauren July 29, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Hey melinda!

    This post was truly touching. And while I am just a year out of college, it makes me realize that I should really appreciate where I am in my life at this present moment.

    Its funny because sometimes I look at the college kids after just a year out and reminisce about those days. And even high school kids and for some reason I forget about how complicated high school was and just remember the goofy things.

    What’s most important is what we do in the here and now. And that we realize that we can do awesome, significant, amazing things whenever we want, no matter what we’ve done in the past and how much time we have in the future.

    I’ll leave you with this little fact:

    “Michelangelo designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome when he was 72. Nelson Mandela was 75 when he was elected president of South Africa. Frank Lloyd Wright completed his work on the Guggenheim Museum when he was 91.”

    Thanks for the great post! I look forward to more as this is my 1st time on your blog!

    – Lauren

    • Melinda August 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      Welcome Lauren :) Thanks for your comments, and you’re right, no matter where we are in our lives today is our most precious gift!

      And wow, those men were amazing, weren’t they!

      Melinda

  4. Marcia August 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    LOVED, LOVED this post, Min. Thanks!

  5. Beth August 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful the insights that come when we are doing the ordinary things of life…..like walking to the store. What if all that stuff you experienced during the college years and everything up to today is what makes you such a great coach….because you understand and know at a deep level the messiness of life and can now help others find their way just like you did!

    I really like what you have to say here and most importantly I like how willing you are to show your vulnerablity…..it is very powerful.

    Thanks.

  6. Melinda August 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Wow, Beth, thanks so much for your comments :) Sometimes I think I’m crazy to announce my insecurities to the world, but I hear so much suffering from others and understand it so well, that I can’t do anything but!

    Melinda

  7. Beth August 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Thought this fit into the theme of looking back :)

    GIRLFRIENDS

    A group of 15 year old girlfriends discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally, it was agreed upon that they should meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View restaurant because they only had $6.00 between them and Jimmy Johnson, that cute boy in Social Studies, lives on that street and they might see him and they can ride their bikes there.

    10 years later, the group of 25 year old girlfriends discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally, it was agreed upon that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the beer was cheap, they had free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover and there were lots of cute guys.

    10 years later, at 35 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally, it was agreed upon that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the cosmos were good, it was right near the gym and if they go late enough, there wouldn’t be too many whiny little kids.

    10 years later, at 45 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally, it was agreed upon that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the martinis were big, and the waiters there had tight pants and nice buns.

    10 years later, at 55 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food there was reasonable, the wine list was good, they had windows that open in case of a hot flash, and fish is good for your cholesterol.

    10 years later, at 65 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because lighting was good and they have an early bird special.

    10 years later, at 75 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because food was not too spicy, the restaurant was handicapped accessible and they even had an elevator!

    10 years later, at 85 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.

  8. Melinda August 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Beth – I love it!! What’s funny is that I read your story after having dinner with four girlfriends from college – we’ve been friends for 35 years :) Guess we have some dinners ahead of us!

    Melinda

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