It’s quite a change,living in a tiny town that values community over material goods and quality over quantity. I read so many of my friends’ Facebook posts about buying this new gadget or visiting some glossy place and wonder why I don’t want those things. Sure, the glossy vacations are nice and I wouldn’t mind traveling with my family to some of the destinations that we have discussed. The pretty gadgets are also really nice, but I’ve found that things wear out or become obsolete. I wonder what drove me to seek solace in a slower-paced life.
I’m currently taking classes that will earn me a Master’s certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. No, I don’t really want to be sitting in a classroom again, and I often find myself resenting the time spent away from my family. I ask myself (yes, more questions) why I chose this path when it is so far away from mainstream America. I’m a professor, an accounting textbook author, a teacher of college students who learn differently, and a nerd who prefers intelligent entertainment that is not generally available on mainstream media.
If you had asked me what I envisioned for my life when I was a teen, I probably would have described the suburban life that I knew as a child. Living in the suburbs is comfortable, “normal,” and socially acceptable, based on my upbringing and experience. It takes a different type of person to choose to live elsewhere. I used to think, “What’s wrong with me?”
There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s also nothing — not a damn thing — wrong with people who choose to live in the American mainstream. I think that I have found the place in this world that is “mine,” if that makes any sense. That I have three other people who agree with me (thank goodness!) is wonderful, because I wouldn’t be happy without them.
In today’s class, one of my colleagues introduced me to a poem called “Welcome to Holland.” I found that the poem resonated with me on many levels. To avoid copyright issues, here’s the link to the poem:
The point of the poem is that you might not end up exactly where you planned to go, but that doesn’t mean that where you are is any less wonderful. I didn’t grow up intending to be an oddball who values and prefers peace, simplicity, and intellectual pursuits. I certainly didn’t intend to live on the opposite coast from my family and friends. That this destination found me is unbelievable in the way it nurtures and compels me to be the best “me” possible. It has broken me open in ways I never dreamed possible, and I am certain that many gifts of which I am currently unaware will likely come to fruition.
So what if the destination isn’t what I expected. This life that found me is better than any I ever imagined.