I've been known, probably for my entire 33 years of existence, to often have "a lot on my plate." I'm involved in quite a bit - I swear my husband doesn't believe that the word "no" is in my vocabulary. If I'm approached to help with something I typically agree to it. I sit on a number of boards for different organizations, and each one brings something special to my life.
Recently I was asked by my alma mater to sit on a board for the alumni association. After much deliberation (and against my husband's request to sit one out) I agreed. My first board meeting brought self-doubt. I was surrounded by a number of people who loved and adored our university, people who had been super involved during their college years and couldn't wait to send their children there....which was different than I was feeling.
To be truthful, while I thoroughly enjoyed my college years, that weekend I kept wishing I could do them over again. Not because I wanted to relive my sorority years or go back to a time that was much more simple and carefree, but because I didn't feel as though I had taken any of it all that seriously. I changed my major a number of times, I didn't get the greatest grades and spent too much time worrying about what some guy thought of me instead of what my professor might think if I turned in another paper a week late.
Proud? Not really. How was I a good representative of this place if I was questioning my time there?
The fact was, after my first board meeting, I was actually feeling pretty crummy. I was asked to be on an important board, to help reach out to other alumni and encourage their continued involvement and support of our beloved university, but all I could remember about those 4 years was how much time I wasted NOT paying more attention to my future.
I began to think I didn't have a story - I no longer had a connection that was worthy of my participation. This past weekend was Homecoming, and another board meeting. For those of you that haven't been back to your alma mater since you walked the stage and received your diploma, this post may not be interesting to you - but I ask you to bear with me.
I have returned to my university every year since I graduated -except the year one of my very best friends got married on the same weekend as Homecoming. I didn't return to meet up with professors who shaped me, I didn't return to catch up with old friends or check out the newest happenings of the town. I returned to see the man I would someday marry.
As much as the 4 years I spent there revolved around the wrong man - the 11 years I returned revolved around the right one. It may seem silly to even admit this, clearly I received an extraordinary education and have benefited greatly from my time at school, but my story - the one that ties me to this place - that revolves around my husband.
When I finally opened up and admitted this weekend that the one thing that made this place seem so special to me was another person, not a class, not my degree, not a professor - but a person, a person I barely knew in college (even though that's where we technically met) but has since become my whole life - my ties to the school felt that much greater.
My story wasn't a silly one - this place had shaped me just as it had each and every one of my fellow board members. This place had taught me more about who I was, who I wanted to be and what not to settle for. While I definitely received an education (from some very talented professors) I also became my own teacher - I just didn't know it then.
After my realization I honestly felt a stronger bond than I had ever felt. My heart was full, I embraced the moment, the people I was surrounded with and the blessings God had bestowed upon me.
And my heart was overflowing.
For you it might be something different, but everyone has something they are holding back on, something that they haven't truly opened themselves up to. I urge you to stop holding back, stop feeling silly, stop comparing yourself to others. Tell your story - even if you're just telling it to yourself. Embrace the moments you wish you had done differently, and know that you have the authority to make the most of every experience - past, present or future.
Whether it's returning to an old stomping ground or allowing a song or memory to transport you to another place in time - remember that every.single.moment brought you to this place (Even the ones that didn't go exactly as planned). Your story was written exactly as it was meant to be, exactly for you.
Embrace it and let your heart be full.