Tag Archives: social

What if they’re right?

This post was inspired by one from my friend Steve:

http://newwhine.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-if-i-am-wrong.html?showComment=1413422547445#c3372567103006826529

I’m afraid I don’t have any wise words for him since he’s been at this whole “Christian thing” a lot longer than I have. I presume so, anyway. The only thing I can think of to say is that I ask a lot of the same questions. For instance-

I’ve heard a lot of talk in my time as a Christian about ‘standing up for God’. Specifically, speaking up for Him and publicly denouncing sin. Lately I have been part of a lot of discussions about things such as sexual orientation and tolerance where I spoke and acted against the stance presented by many conservative evangelicals that these things are ‘sin’ or ‘wrong’. That I and those like me who say that sexual orientation is not chosen and present arguments that the Bible is not inerrant and that people should tolerate homosexuals are ‘lukewarm’ or ‘compromising God’s truth so that the world will like us’, ‘ashamed of the truth,’ etc. I usually pass it off, but last night I had a thought*:

What if they’re right?

What if the stancse the fundamentalists or conservative evangelicals take on this subject are right, and that I really am ashamed, afraid to stand up for God, or pandering? On other things, what if the Bible really is inerrant? What if I really am ‘lukewarm’, whatever that means? What if Christianity really is the only way? I know what Jesus said about no one coming to the Father except by Him, but I’ve wondered whether or not it’s possible for someone to know Jesus but call Him something else. I remember when I first came to Him, it felt like I finally had a name for something I’d known was there all along.

What if I really am doing wrong by not talking about my faith or trying to ‘witness’ to non-Christians? I don’t have a problem with telling others what I believe, but I don’t always go out of my way to discuss those things with people I know aren’t interested. I talk about those things a lot online and in church, but those are places specifically dedicated to those subjects; as much as I admire those who do, I’m a bit shy to go up to strangers in a parking lot and hand out fliers the way a very nice Jehovah’s Witness once did for me. I like to think that I’d be able to do that if I were so led, but I don’t find myself in such situations very often-only when around other religious people. What if I really should be trying to convert them, though, rather than agreeing to disagree and accepting their having another religion, or not having one at all? I love learning and talking about other people’s beliefs, but I don’t usually find myself wanting to try to convince them to turn from their way onto mine.

What if my choices in entertainment and things like my continually indulging in sins like my bad language and lusting really will put my soul in jeopardy?

What if I really do believe the wrong things, and it is believing the right things that makes the difference in salvation? What if my study of other religions and the intricacies of our faith and the Bible (like meanings of particular words or context or how it came to be) is distracting me from my faith and just believing? What if I really am being overly critical and judgmental to my former coreligionists, or if I talk badly about them too much? I wonder if I really have lost my salvation, or am in jeopardy of that, from my ‘straying’ or worldly views?

I would never suggest to another person that their salvation may have been lost because of changes in thinking, so why I am doing that to myself?

I don’t know if I am just being paranoid, over-thinking, etc, or if this is God telling me to adjust my ways. I know I am a work in progress, and that there are things in my life that I need to get rid of and repent of. I’m just confused sometimes, and I get so many different ideas. I am very offended a lot of times by the actions of some of my fellow Christians and beliefs about things like homosexuality being sinful or that I am thinking the wrong way…I just wonder sometimes if perhaps I wandered too far from my evangelical/fundamentalist past and unknowingly threw the baby out with the bathwater. I haven’t really changed my belief about the major things such as who Christ is and the Cross. That’s probably the important thing, but I don’t know.

I’ll stop babbling now. I am a master worrier, and this might just be an example of my mind over-wandering.

 

 

*Yes, I do have ideas. Just not that often, and most of them suck.


How to be a good friend to someone with bipolar disorder

Hi, I’m [river in Ireland] (*cue twelve-step group greeting here*), and I have bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. To people who have known me for a long time, this isn’t usually much of a shock. Actually, I take that back. People who have known me and been close enough to have seen some rough times aren’t usually that surprised.  As for everyone else, my friendly and talkative exterior can hide pretty much anything I want it to.  I’ve had to use this skill a lot in the past because I have had some people find out that I have bipolar and not be very nice about it. I think my favorite comment was that I was ‘demon-‘ or ‘spirit-possessed’. *roll eyes* Others think I’m not as much fun anymore since I have begun taking medication that doesn’t allow me to bounce off the walls like I did before. Still others think I’m just a freak. Of course, I was pretty freaky before, but that’s not the point. 🙂

The point is that people with bipolar disorder can be quite complicated; things can bother us that won’t bother ‘normies’, and our medications and treatment can take a lot out of us.  The disorder is very complex and there is more being learned about it all the time. There are various different symptoms or signs that can be mistaken as something else entirely, which makes it really difficult to figure out.  It can really screw with someone’s life.  For instance, it wasn’t uncommon when I was first diagnosed to get four hours a sleep a night for two weeks straight and clean the house up and down at 3 am**…only to crash the next week and not shower or leave my bedroom for two days.  That’s not even counting the episodes where I was crying and throwing things one minute and dancing a jig the next (only a slight exaggeration), with major swings like this happening in the same day.  It’s kind of hard to hold down a job when your boss can’t figure out what planet you are going to be from one minute to the next!  That’s not even talking about the medications and their side effects-I’ve been through several changes and can’t even keep track of them all. One of the medicines that worked the best for me also gave me shakes so bad I had to see a Parkinson’s doctor.  Another gave me gas you wouldn’t believe, and still another made me gain so much weight that I was nearly too fat to fit into my wedding dress! And you know what’s scary? I’m one of the luckier ones, because I can even take medicine;  I know some people who haven’t been able to find anything that doesn’t mix badly with their other medications, assuming they can find something that helps at all.

Bipolar has a strong tendency toward comorbidity-meaning, it often occurs alongside other similar disorders.  I’ve lost friends and had others change how they relate to me, although I have had some actually come closer because they had similar problems and felt I wouldn’t judge them.  Generally, though, it’s one of those things you don’t really understand very well unless you have it yourself.  In this spirit, I thought it might be fun to give sort of a ‘guide’ on the care and feeding of your bipolar friend. 🙂  So, let’s get started:

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The things that made a difference

A 6th century mosaic of Jesus at Church San Ap...
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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ – 2 Corinthians 5:17

I was fifteen when I first heard about Jesus.  Now, I know what you’re going to say, ‘a person growing up in the Bible Belt who hadn’t heard of Jesus? How is that possible?’ Well, it is. It’s not that I had never heard of Jesus so much as that I hadn’t heard about Jesus. I knew the name, but it was like knowing of Abraham Lincoln or something-I knew the facts and the common stories, but they didn’t mean anything to me.  My family went to church up until I was about eight but, really, show me an eight year old who actually pays attention in church! I knew Bible stories, but only because my mom had gotten me a huge book of them to keep me quiet and awake during the service. Suffice it to say, I didn’t know about Jesus in any meaningful way.  It took meeting some very good and caring friends to get me to learn anything beyond what you can find on a Christmas TV special.  I’m not going to go into too much detail about them here because I don’t want to get off track, but I experienced the type of ‘transformation’ the verse above references.  It wasn’t my personality that changed so much as the way I saw everything around me and, by extension, saw myself.  Here are some of the ways my life changed when I first became a Christian:

First, let me start by telling you what didn’t change. Here’s one thing-I didn’t ‘get morals’. I had morals before, and roughly the same ones about how to treat other people that Christianity teaches. I keep hearing some people say or imply that people who don’t have a religion can’t have morals, and that is completely untrue. I had parents before, and those parents taught me values before. Also, it’s not as though the ethics of relationships are unique to Christianity! Many of the world’s religions teach similar things about how to treat other people, even if worded differently. Christianity happens to be the faith I chose, but I don’t pretend that we have the monopoly on knowledge of God. I don’t really have to be agreed with; In fact, I am often the first to defend the rights of others to live and believe whichever way they feel led, provided no one is being hurt.  Some differences might be hard to swallow at first, but they’re certainly not as important as loving our neighbor as ourselves, with everyone as our neighbor.

Besides, it’s not like I was a huge troublemaker before! I didn’t *kiss* anyone or even have a real boyfriend until I was seventeen so I didn’t sleep around, haven’t committed any crimes beyond traffic tickets and I still have never been drunk. I’ve actually always been kind of a goody-two-shoes, although I don’t like to admit that. 🙂  I’m just naming these things because they seem to be the ones I hear about most often. I do have somewhat of a ‘potty mouth’ sometimes and have definitely lied, but I’ve never really understood the fixation some people have about sexual things being more important than a person’s basic attitude toward themselves and other people. *Shrug* I guess you could say that I also struggle with not judging others…

I didn’t find a quick fix for my problems, nor did I have an assurance that I wouldn’t have trials in the future. In fact, it was pretty much a guarantee that I would.  The assurance was in that I wouldn’t be alone when I did.

I didn’t check my brain at the door. One thing I’ve been asked is how someone who’s as intelligent as I am can possibly be a Christian. Do I really have to tell you why this is offensive? 🙂 I understand how some of the anti-science, anti-academia, anti-questioning-anything-your-leaders-say things you’ll hear out of some people seem like Christians don’t think.  I completely agree, those things don’t sound very thoughtful.  However, I think you will find people who do not think for themselves in pretty much any group. It’s more of a personality trait than anything else. I have never stopped asking questions, and probably never will. Anyone who knows me knows that I won’t ‘just shut up and drink your Kool-Aid’ just because someone tells me to-in fact, being told that is likely to make me even more persistent! What’s great is, I don’t have to stop asking.  Some Christian groups do teach the sort of strict ‘uniform thinking’ mentioned above, but that’s certainly not all of them. The Bible never claimed to be a science book or complete history text anyway. Besides, there are other types of intelligence.  Faith can meet an emotional need, which IMO is every bit as important as an intellectual need.

And, well, let’s see you try to get through the book of Deuteronomy-most of the Old Testament, really-and still think Christians are brain dead…:)

Here are some things that did change, that were added to my life:

I finally had a connection to something outside myself, and larger than myself and the world I can see around me.

It was finally beaten into my head that ‘it’s not all about me’.   I had concern for and connection to the rest of the world’s people before, but this bond became even stronger. That doesn’t mean I liked everyone or everything, but it does mean that I began to see the whole world as my neighbor as opposed to just my ‘inner circle’ or those I could see around me.

I finally stopped having to know absolutely everything.  Growing up, I couldn’t stand the idea of something being beyond my comprehension or not being ‘kept in the loop’ .  I guess you could say I was a typical teenager, thinking I knew everything and that my reasoning was flawless. I put tremendous pressure on myself in this way;  I always did very well in school but didn’t think I had much else going for me. Proverbs 3:5 says to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.’  I don’t take this to necessarily mean that we shouldn’t try to make sense of things, but that we should understand that there are going to be things that are not for us to know at this point in time.  This might sound simplistic, but it really brought a relief. For someone who was as strongly driven by academics as I was, admitting that it is okay not to know something is a major feat. Even now, sometimes I drive myself insane trying to understand things…why people are how they are, etc…but then I remember the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. “Now we see things imperfectly, as in a poor mirror, but then we will see in perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God knows me now.” (1 Cor, 13:12). Now, I know what you’re going to say…’how do you know the Bible is even true? There are so many contradictions in it, so many things have been found to be false.’ But like I said above, the Bible is not a science book.  There is a difference between ‘truth’ and ‘fact’, as the parables and mythology that has been passed down through the ages will show. Even if you put no stock in the Bible or Paul at all, what he says still makes sense.  There are some things we just aren’t going to know in this life…and anything that can drive that through my thick skull can’t be all bad!  That leads me to the final (and biggest) realization:

It seemed as though I finally had a name for an essence, a spirit, that I had known was there all along but couldn’t identify. I think I always felt that there was some sort of higher power ‘out there’, that there was something that kept the order in the universe. I can’t emphasize enough how comforting it can be to believe that it’s not all up to me and that there is some sort of pattern, some sort of reason to the the world and our lives. It certainly has not been smooth sailing, definitely. I will be the first to say that I’ve had it rough at times and that I’ve considered tossing it all .  I’ve had some times when I felt I’d be better off without my faith or thought God deserted me. I seriously thought He hated me; few things will make you feel farther from God than depression, especially the kind that comes with mixed bipolar states.  However, through the caring of some good friends, I began to see again that He never left me.  Just as I originally came to know and believe, I was shown the way God cares for me through the care from other people. There are too many people to thank, so I guess they’ll just have to know who they are.  On this tip, I will end this essay with one of my favorite Scriptures:

‘And now abide in faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’ -1 Corinthians 13:13

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25 Random Things About Me

You can blame my friend Ross for this one…I got the idea from one of his blog posts!

Here goes:

25 Random things about me.

1. I’m used to people getting my name wrong. Sharon, Shawna, Shane, Sheena…all things I have been called, but none are my name. I’ve even had people see the name before meeting me (profs, etc) and think I was a man! 🙂 No, I’m not going to tell you my name…
2. I’ve never seen the movie Deliverance. I constantly hear people referencing it in conversation (mostly when talking about freaky Southern redneck people or weird Christians), but I still haven’t seen the movie.
3. I once wrote a rap song for a guy. Seriously. I can still recite part of it from memory. And no, I can’t rap my way out of a plastic bag; that was intentional and part of the fun. 🙂
4. The guy I wrote the aforementioned rap song for is now my stepbrother. I guess it’s a good thing I never performed it and nothing really happened between us, huh? 🙂
5. I’m 32. I still get carded, though. 🙂
6. I have kind of a geek-crush on Seth MacFarlane. Stop laughing.
7. I have bipolar disorder. Looking back I think I had traces of it from the time I was eleven, but I did not get treatment for anything until I was 18, and that was for unipolar depression. I was diagnosed the first time with bipolar in 2000, but only began treatment after a second diagnosis in 2004. I will outline the (incredibly stupid) reason for this a little later.
8. I met my husband at a wedding, and the couple who got married also met at a wedding.
9. I once had purple hair. Seriously. Okay, it was burgundy. That’s still purple! 🙂
10. I have no kids, but five cats who think they are kids. Does that count?
11. I can remember stupid, random crap like a conversation I had with my brother when I was 14 or a rap song I wrote for a guy when I was 16, but I can’t remember someone’s name I met ten minutes earlier. I guess I’m getting old. 🙂
12. I can’t stand Star Wars. Well, maybe that’s too strong a statement…there’s just something about having something pushed on you that makes you want to push it back!
13. My oldest nephew’s first word was ‘butthead’. Seriously.
14. One of my cats has allergies. I didn’t even know cats could have that. But then, sometimes she acts like she is from another planet, and so this kind of weird stuff shouldn’t surprise me.
15. I hate beer.
16. Slater, get off the counter. Don’t give me any of that ‘meow’ stuff. Just do it!
17. My butt itches.
18. I’ve never been drunk. Yes, really. My sisters tried to get me drunk once when we were in Key West on a cruise, but it didn’t work. I drank them both under the table and then had to help *them* back to the boat! My dad still likes telling that story.
19. I didn’t originally get treatment for bipolar because I was dating a guy whose family believed that all you had to do to be healed from whatever illness you have by having enough faith and ‘believing right’ for it. I wouldn’t normally give this the time of day, but at that point I was ready to try anything. Short version, I tried it their way for a while and thought it worked, but it didn’t, and I got grief for going back on meds. How lovely (heavy sarcasm). Because of that, ‘name it, claim it’ and anything related gives a bad taste in my mouth. Anytime I hear that stuff, I want to throw something wet and squishy at whoever or whatever is saying it. I’m just lucky I haven’t gotten arrested yet. 🙂
20. I will get a song in my head and it will stay in my head until I hear something else to replace it. Right now I have the song from one of the ‘Free Credit Report.com’ commercials floating around. AAAARRGGH! Quick, somebody sing something else!
21. I feel like I used to be much sharper and more intelligent before all the bipolar stuff set on. I say ‘before the bipolar’ because I’ve looked back and seen that I wasn’t that way until then. I have a hard time paying attention and thus learning things, and so it makes me feel and look like a total idiot. I have gotten fired from more than one job because of this.
22. I once got bitten by a dog and hit by a car in the same month. Really. I still have the scars. The nurse who cleaned me up before going to the ER after being hit was the same one who had given me one of my rabies shots a few hours before! I wasn’t allowed to leave my dorm room for the next two days without ‘supervision’ as a result. 🙂
23. I used to be so shy I could barely talk to people. It’s funny how no one I meet now ever believes me when I say this.
24. I have an ex I wish I could forget. But then, don’t we all?
25. I hated Kill Bill, Vol. 1. I never saw Vol. 2.

Okay, that’s about enough of that. I’d better go get something to eat before I pass out. Later on!

Oh, and, brain bleach is available in the front lobby for anyone who needs it. 🙂


A New Ten Commandments for a New Generation

Not that there is anything wrong with the original ‘list’, mind you. Those will always be relevant. However, some of my recent observations in my life as a Christian have led me to come up with a few that should be added to the list. Or, at least, paid attention to.

1. Give others the same respect and consideration you would want yourself. It’s really sad that I have to say this, seeing as pretty much *every* religion and philosophy that has ever existed has taught some form of this. However, it has apparently fallen by the wayside, in favor of ‘instilling moral order.’ Yes, I’m looking at you, Religious Right. Somehow I don’t think you would appreciate it if someone came in and tried to make your kids pray to Vishnu in their public schools, and yet you bitch and moan at the very *idea* that you aren’t given preferential treatment.  And, yes, it is preferential.   I’m sorry you feel ‘oppressed’  because you are being told ‘Happy Holidays’ in PetSmart rather than ‘Merry Christmas’ and see it as a ‘war’, but really, don’t you have better things to do? Like ‘feeding His sheep’ or tending to ‘the least of these’? I know many of you already do this, and I commend you for it. I don’t mean to lump you all in with the more negative people; it’s just that the negative ones get the most attention because they make the biggest fuss. The squeaky wheel, and all that.

In my view, there is a difference between a ‘fundamentalist’ and a ‘fundie’.  The former simply keeps to the fundamentals of the Bible and the Christian faith;  the latter does this while beating everyone else over the head.   I’ve known them both, and I’ve still got the bruises.  Both think they are behaving in a manner pleasing to God; the problem is that the latter seems to think that they are the only ones God is pleased with, or even paying attention to.  How this view is supported by general life, I don’t know.  Maybe this will be answered on the next episode of <insert cheesy soap opera title here>.

Also, I know you’re upset that you can’t put up Nativity scenes or monuments to the Ten Commandments out on the public square.  And you know what? I can see your point.  We all want a way to express our beliefs and what is important to us.  The problem is that many of you would have a severe problem if someone wanted to put a menorah in the same place.  Well, maybe not, since you seem to have at least a modicum of respect for Jews, but my six-foot marble statue of Buddha* would be out of the question.  The point is that you aren’t the only game in town worth watching anymore. Sorry, you’re going to have to share the field for a while. I’m sure you’ll manage.

And contrary to popular belief, prayer is still allowed in public schools. The only restrictions are that a) it can’t disrupt class time and b) cannot be led by a teacher or administrator.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Again, see the earlier Vishnu example.  And you know what? It’s not just you. Every religion is subject to the same rules.  A Muslim kid who wanted to lay out his prayer mat during the middle of Math class for one of the five daily prayer times would be told not to as well.

2. Unless someone is being hurt, thou shalt not unnecessarily push your views on other people. Don’t want your kids to learn evolution in science class?  Some schools have now made allowances for a student to be given alternate assignments if there is something in the curriculum they do not want their children to be taught. When I was in school, long ago (well, not that long ago, I’m not that old), parents would be notified by teachers when the ‘sex ed’ unit was taught in science class.  Parents would either sign a permission slip for their child to take the class, or ask for their child to be excused and given an alternate assignment. The same thing was done during the ‘dissection’ units in biology class. Seek these options, and use them.  If they are not available, that doesn’t mean that your child is going to be ‘ruined’ for life.  Reinforce the word ‘theory’.  Teach them alternate views, and give them the tools to think and sort fact from fiction.  Besides, is it *really* that big of a deal?  There are so many other things to be concerned with, such as the recent onslaught of insipid reality shows.  Okay, I’m somewhat kidding (note the word ‘somewhat’…), but you get the point. Pick your battles. Save your energy for the things that *really* matter, like loving your neighbor.

Above all, clean your own house first.  If someone’s marriage is threatened by Adam and Steve down the road getting married, they have much bigger problems.

3.  Related to the above, continue to teach your children what is right and what is wrong, but respect other parents’ rights to do the same. If you don’t like the witchcraft in Harry Potter books then, by all means, tell your children not to read them. Don’t, however, make a big stink about those books being available in the school library and/or attempt to get them banned in general.  No one is *making* your child read those books, so there is no reason to be threatened because they are available to other children who do not share your apprehension.

On another tip, I consider myself pro-choice. While I think abortion is repulsive and probably couldn’t live with myself if I had one, I feel the option should be available and safe for those who do not share my view.  I have every intention of teaching my values to my children, but I understand other parents who disagree will do the same. That, and there are some situations where we never know what we will do until we are in them.  My parents taught me growing up that I am going to have some ideas as to what is right and what is wrong that others might not agree with, and that I should be prepared for this.  I tend to be quite open about things in my life because I am pretty open-minded and accepting of differences, and I assume others will be the same.  Even in my 30s, I am still trying to learn this.  I am mentioning this to say that I understand how difficult it can be at times to remember that not everyone is going to think as we do, and that sometimes we will have to adjust our behavior accordingly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to adjust our *beliefs*, although that will often happen.  What it *does* mean is that these differences are here to stay and that we would do much better to represent our side…and keep our blood pressure low…if we could at least try to listen to each other and agree to disagree.  Just because someone thinks differently does not necessarily make them a threat.  Have compassion in dealing with others, which doesn’t always feel natural but puts a much better face on you and  your cause than throwing darts-verbal or otherwise-at people.

You know what? Perhaps I should stop here, because pretty much anything I have said and anything else I will say goes right back to #1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…such a simple thing to recite, but such a difficult thing to live out.  *Sigh* …yes, very difficult.  I am definitely guilty of this, probably one of the worst offenders I know.  In that spirit, I will end with an apology to anyone I have called out here, because we are more alike than we might realize. God bless.

*No, I don’t really have a six-foot marble statue of Buddha. It’s actually seven feet tall, and made out of bubblegum wrappers. My nephew made it in art class last year. 🙂


Success? Whose Definition?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the direction my life has taken. I think this was brought on by a post from one of my friends from a forum about how she feels she is ‘behind’ other people in her life.  I was happy to read that…not happy that she was feeling badly about herself, but happy that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

For as long as I can remember, I have defined myself by my intelligence.  I held strong educational and career goals. I thought that that was all I had going for me, since I wasn’t popular or beautiful and didn’t seem to know how to talk to people. I thought that was how other people defined me too.

I got sucked into Facebook a few months ago. I went there to look at a link a friend sent me, and saw how many people there were from high school and college. I know a lot of people say that they don’t want anything to do with people from high school because they weren’t friends with those people back then and/or don’t want to remember anything from that time. I was pretty miserable at one point too, but I am not the same person I was back then and wanted to see if others were different too. We all had expectations of each other or ideas of how we would turn out…you know, Most Likely to Succeed, Most Likely to be Millionaire, Most Likely to be a Skanky Reality Show Contestant, (okay, that last one wasn’t ‘official’, but we all thought it  :p), etc.  I remember graduating fifth in my class, having a 3.8 grade average, having colleges clamoring for my attention and military recruiters calling every five minutes (slight exaggeration).  And then there was that ubiquitous question: Where do you see yourself in ten years? Do you think you will be successful in the future?

I always had an answer. We all did.

I also remember the long nights at sleepovers, talking into the wee hours about where we wanted to be in the future and what we thought (or hoped) our lives would be like.  We had a ‘plan’; finishing my doctorate in psychology, having a career as a therapist in private practice, married by 25, first kid at 27, second kid at 30, and so on. I had all these high goals for myself and ideas of how I thought things would be. I remember some of the things my friends said that they wanted, what teachers said about me, the big plans I had.  Looking at Facebook made me think, which ones  have I accomplished?

Answer: none.

I don’t remember exactly where or why I got off-track.  I thought I would be a psychiatrist or counselor. I knew I would be good at it because I was always the one people came to with problems.  I took a class in high school that was a closed-circuit news program, and I fell in love with it.  There was a period where I wanted to be a broadcast journalist and travel the world.  I wanted to be a news anchor, have my own talk show, or write for television. I wanted to interview famous people, get in really good with the president and get him to let me get married on the White House lawn.  I wanted to write commercials or public service announcements. I had all these things I wanted to do, but couldn’t really decide on any of them. I constantly thought about changing my major or adding on a minor. My scholarship only renewed for four years, so whatever I did, I had to graduate in four years.  All this was while socializing more than I ever had before, enjoying a type of popularity and outgoing personality that I always wanted in high school, but felt was so out of reach.

Somewhere along the line, i decided I wanted to go to law school. I wanted to be a family lawyer, which is basically a social worker with a law degree.  Although I had bipolar (although I didn’t know that is what it was then), I felt that that would be an asset because I would be able to understand things from both sides.

But I never did any of these things.  I graduated with a degree in communication, working on television sets like I did in high school.  I got a job doing this, and was horrible at it.  I worked in sales, and I was horrible at that too.  I had a few romantic relationships, and failed at those too.  I was horrible at *everything.*  Or, anything I could really make money at.  I have never had a job that I wanted to make a career out of or  that I was proud to tell my friends from school about. I got fired over and over from jobs because I had no attention span and had to live off my credit cards. I felt I was too stupid to hold onto anything for more than a couple of years, even though this isn’t really true.  I worried constantly, got no sleep and had so many money problems that I had to file for bankruptcy for credit card debt.  My faith in God slipped and was practically destroyed at one point. Depression was pretty much my constant companion. I screwed up everything I touched. I became the person parents warned about, who had no direction in life and couldn’t make anything work.  I had what my friend J refers to as a ‘dark night of the soul’, except this night stretched on for years, with only slivers of light. I was somehow able to hide some of this from friends; the person they usually saw was the chick who came home from work bouncing off the walls, never met a stranger, and was always finding fun things to do.  They didn’t see the lethargic, reclusive, banal person very often; it’s kind of hard to see someone when she hasn’t left her bedroom for three days.  It was either that, or they didn’t mind being around it.  I couldn’t hide it from boyfriends, though, which contributed to the demise of a couple of serious relationships that I had hoped would last forever.  They couldn’t handle me, and ran off.  I thought I would always be alone, which was one of my greatest fears. I thought things would always be that way-dark- and I had to just accept it.

Well, I didn’t accept it.  That’s a good thing, because I didn’t have to. I met my husband at a wedding.  I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began treatment. As time went on, I began to see that this was behind a lot of the failed jobs, failed relationships, and everything else that had made a wreck of my life.  I got engaged. I got married.  I got my faith back, which was no small feat.

Finally, there was light. Maybe, just maybe, now I could get started on becoming successful in my life.

Come to think of it, I *am* successful. It’s just a matter of how you define success.

I don’t have a hard-charging career; in fact, I don’t have a job at all.  But I have a great husband.

I didn’t get an advanced degree in college and perhaps didn’t study what I should have, but I found some really great friends.

Maybe I am not using my *degree*, but I am using what I learned.  Like most people, about 75% of what I learned in college was not in a classroom. It was out in the world;  how to relate to people who are different from me,  how to manage my time and my finances (although the last one still needs work),  how to think more critically and how to manage myself without a parent or anyone else looking over my shoulder.  I also learned what was really important in life; relationships, quality time with people I love, self-esteem and, most of all, reliance on God. I learned that there were a lot more ways to serve Him and to help others than in a professional position.

I remember now that this was why I chose not to pursue law school; I did not want to kill myself at an office for 80 hours a week and have no time for a life.   It’s wasn’t my degree I got married to four years ago, and it won’t be my career that will cry at my funeral.  I have family, I have friends, I have a different sort of intelligence than I thought I did, I have a more mature and enduring faith.  I have love in my life.  Looking at all of these things, I can now see that things *did* work out, that I *am* a success.


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