Saturday, December 12, 2015

Friday Reflections (Not on Friday) Vol. 4 - The Gutsiest Thing I've Ever Done

The Gutsiest Thing I’ve Ever Done

I’ve given this prompt much thought since first reading it Friday morning on MG and Janine's  pages.  I have thought back on my life, to times that required courage, nerve, guts, cojones, whatever...and a lot of faith.  Several images flashed in my mind - telling a close male friend in college that I had fallen for him, all the while knowing there was a slim chance that he felt the same; confronting a boyfriend and the mystery woman with whom he was kissing on the street when I just happened to drive past the same restaurant they were standing outside of; and marrying my husband and becoming not only a wife but an instant stepmother in the process.  During my contemplation, reflecting on these gutsy moments, I’ve come to one undeniable conclusion - gutsy is a relative term.  

An act that's considered gutsy to someone might be considered a walk in the park for someone else.  Not only is it a relative term between different people, but also for the individual, depending on the place in life one might be at any particular time.  In other words, what might be considered gutsy for someone at the age of 18 might not be considered all that brave for the same person when he/she is 40.  Having said that, I do not wish to impugn the courage it takes to do anything that is difficult or frightening regardless of what age the person is.  My point is this - gutsiness is highly personal and should never be judged.

The timeliness of this prompt is quite fitting, for next month I will mark my 16th anniversary of moving to Kentucky - the act that I consider the gutsiest thing I’ve ever done. What’s so gutsy about that, you ask?  Well, the move, for me, required taking a HUGE leap of faith.  It also required going "all in" on a bet that I knew might not work out.  I packed up everything I owned into a yellow Ryder truck and, along with my cat, moved 3 hours away from the comfort and familiarity of the college town where I had spent the past 7 years of my life.  I moved away from all of my friends.  I moved 5 1/2 hours away from my family who all live in my little hometown in southern West Virginia.  I moved to an area I was completely unfamiliar with, an area outside of my beloved West Virginia and outside of my Appalachian culture.  I moved to a place where I knew none, a place way outside of my comfort zone, and I moved here alone.

So, why in the world did I do that?  What promoted me to step out into the great unknown and basically start all over with just my trusty feline sidekick, Smokey, by my side? A job.

That’s right, I moved here for a job.

Growing up, I always knew that there would probably come a day when I would have to move away from my beloved West Virginia.  Around the time I finished graduate school, the job market in West Virginia was in severe decline and had been in decline since the 1980s.  The prospects of finding a speech pathologist position was bleak because as the population declined, so did the need for speech paths.  The need wasn't anywhere what it had been when I first declared my major 7 1/2 years before.

During my last semester of graduate school, I interviewed for four positions:  one in southern Ohio, about an hour from Huntington (where I was attending college); one in Raleigh-Durham, NC; one in rural Nicholas County, WV; and the job in Kentucky.  Of the four positions, I was offered all of them with the exception of, as luck would have it, the one in my home state.  I gave serious consideration to the job in southern Ohio because it was close enough to where I could continue living in my apartment in Huntington and I could commute.  But, when it came down to it, I chose the Kentucky job instead.  When I walked into the school for the first time for my interview, I truly felt as if I was walking into the elementary school I attended when I was young.  There was such an overwhelming feeling of community and small town charm that I knew that's where I wanted to work.  So when the job was offered to me, I took it.

Moving is always a gamble.  Taking a new job, even the job you want, is always a gamble.  Combine the two and you have a big gamble compounded in intensity due to the fact that I was doing it all by myself.  Moving to a place where you are truly a stranger, where you have no friends, no family, and no support system is scary beyond words.

I will never forget the morning when my parents left to go back to West Virginia, after helping me move into my new place.  I stood there on the sidewalk in front of my townhouse and watched as they pulled away that cold Sunday morning in January.  I held it together until they were out of sight, then retreated back into my townhouse, sat down in the middle of my living room floor, surrounded by dozens of still-packed moving boxes and cried, thinking "What in the world have I done?"  The next morning I arrived promptly for my new job at 7:45am and started my new life.

Fast forward almost 16 years.  I'm still here in Kentucky and, believe it or not, I still work in the same school.  Although the first year was extremely difficult, for I was terribly homesick and lonely beyond words, I knew that if I could just stay put for one year then I would be okay.  With each passing year, it got easier and easier.  With time, I made some of the dearest friends a person could ever want, met and married my husband, and have enjoyed numerous opportunities that I might not have had if I lived elsewhere.  I made myself a life here and, just as I predicted, it turned out okay.  Actually, it turned out much better than okay.  That leap of faith that I took so many years ago has yielded blessings truly beyond what I deserve.

So, there you have it, my "No Guts, No Glory" story.  What's the gutsiest thing you've ever done?

1 comment:

  1. The most growth happens in those "no guts, no glory" stories! And you've had a lot of them :)


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