I’ve always felt a little different in the way that my life has unfolded. Not because I moved around every few years as I grew up, or because I was an only child, or even because I had to be taught how to “correctly hold a pencil” in the 2nd grade. Mostly it’s because I’ve tended to do things “out of order” as far as society is concerned. I even do daily tasks in a backward manner, without even realizing it.
I tie my shoes “backwards.” Don’t ask me how, because it’s the only way I know how. But, on more than one occasion, I’ve been stared at and asked “how the hell do you tie your shoes like that?”
When I play tennis, hit at the batting cages, or go bowling, I step with the “wrong” foot. You’re supposed to step off of the opposite foot that you’re hitting with, and it’s the most ridiculously unnatural thing in the world for me. Luckily, I’m still able to play both games with moderate success. I even have to bowl left handed while playing wii. This coming from a right handed person…who also eats left handed.
When it comes to academia, I’ve definitely done things backwards (at least according to the social norm). Whether by choice or destiny, it’s been an interesting experience. Upon graduating from high school, I knew that society expected me to get on with college, graduate in 4 years and enter the work force. But, backwards Natalie wasn’t ready for that. I was wrapped up in a boyfriend, completely uninterested in higher education, and preferred waiting tables to writing papers. I half assed school for a few semesters before realizing that at the time, it just wasn’t right for me.
While a lot of my friends were busy completing their degree’s, I moved from job to job, supporting myself by working basic administrative jobs and waiting tables. I knew I would complete college at some point, but at 19 years old, it wasn’t my time.
I was in and out of classes until I decided to take an indefinite hiatus when I was 23. I didn’t feel like I was progressing, I had guilt as I watched friends graduate and move into their careers, and I was stuck in a dead end job, bartending at a tex-mex restaurant that would eventually close. My lifestyle from the ages of 23-25 was ridiculously unhealthy. Drinking until all hours of the night, smoking cigarettes and sleeping all day. I finally woke up one day and realized that I was way too old for that shit, and that I really needed to get my act together. But, more about that later.
In 2006, the bartending job I held for 2 years ended abruptly, as the restaurant I worked in, closed. I moved on to become an HR Assistant at an airline that also closed upon filing for bankruptcy. Instead of focusing on how to land a better job and work on my education, I ran. In fact, I ran for two years. I moved so much that you could basically whip out a blank map of the US, close your eyes and randomly drop your finger onto a state to guess where I was. Yep, it was that bad. I kept thinking that a “fresh start” would solve all of my problems, yet all it did was make them worse. I handled those experiences in such a backwards way that it still makes my head spin. But, by the ripe age of 26, I was back in school full time and was finally on the path of getting my future in order.
I recently went to the dentist to get a tooth checked out that is causing a gap between two teeth. I was bummed to discover that the oral surgeon discovered that the tooth may actually be cracked above the gum line. He explained that it’s a very rare thing to have a 29 year old experience such a thing, as it’s usually a geriatric problem. Of course it is. Backwards.
Yesterday, I turned 29, and I finally feel like I am on the right track and am distancing myself from a backwards way of life.
This blog is not about complaining about my path, as most of it was left up to me in the decisions I chose to make. So I’ve done things slightly backwards. Who cares? It’s sometimes funny to look back on things and see how choices 10 years ago have led to me to where I am now.
I have a wonderful life filled with fantastic friends, family and endless opportunities. I have so much to be grateful for – including living an occasionally backwards life. :) Today, I can proudly proclaim that I am progressing, and I’m successfully accomplishing that progress in all different directions.
The point is not how we get places…whether it’s backwards, forwards, or sideways. It’s that we progress. Period.