One of my favorite movies (seriously it is a top 20) is an indie film that came out in the 90s called Sliding Doors. The movie is about Helen, a twenty-something in London. In the beginning of the film she is fired from her job (sorry, it's not much of a spoiler alert.) She heads home to commiserate with her boyfriend. You see her rush down the stairs to catch her tube, and she has to dart around a child. That small moment causes her to miss her train home.
There is a pause in the film and then a rewind, and we see Helen rushing down the stairs again. This time she doesn't need to dart around the child, and she makes her train.
Make sense? No? Okay, watch it happen in this clip:
The movie continues showing two different story lines. In one she doesn't make the train, in the other she does.
There have been many moments in my life when I recognized that I was standing at a crossroads. Going one way would change my life, going another way would keep it the same. Not moving was something else entirely. I have made choices and then looked back and fretted, "Did I make the right decision?"
Some of the larger crossroads I have encountered:
Should I change high schools in my junior year?
I did. (No regrets)
Should I go on that trip to Avon?
I did. (No regrets.)
Should I go to college in Memphis or New York?
Went to New York. (No regrets.)
Should I stay in school, or should I enroll in conservatory?
I enrolled in conservatory. (Regret.)
Should I date my boss?
Oof. Sadly, I did. (Regret.)
Should I stay in Brooklyn or should I move to Los Angeles?
I moved to LA. (Regret.)
Should I kick the weird roommate out?
I did. (No regrets.)
Should I call him back?
I didn't. (Regret.)
All of those crossroads made up a roadmap of my late teens and early twenties. Once upon a time I spent a lot of energy regretting choices that I made. The move to LA was a regret that I had for years. I genuinely felt like I had possibly derailed my life.
Everything changed in January of 2003 when my grandfather died. Suddenly there were no crossroads, just one road, and it was a long highway drive directly to Alabama to become my grandmother's caregiver.
Making the move to Alabama was a powerful moment for me. It allowed me to officially crumple and toss my list of regrets. If I went to college in Memphis, if I lived in Brooklyn, if I called him back; if I had zigged instead of zagging my life would still have ended up in Alabama at that exact moment.
In Sliding Doors we see these two parallel lives play out and while so many moments are unique, there are some pretty huge overlaps. (and because I really want you to see the film, I am not going to tell you what those huge things are)
Letting go of regrets was liberating. I began my thirties feeling like I was right where I was supposed to be. Accepting that there are absolutes in my life is comforting as well. Isn't that an exhale moment:you will always end up exactly where you are meant to be.
Dear me at twenty,
Don't worry too much about not staying in Brooklyn. In a few years you will be living in Alabama.
You will not be stuck there, and yes it will feel like you are, but I promise, eventually, you will end up right where you are meant to be, living the life you want to live.
Love, me at (eep) 37
p.s. please go to the dentist more often
This post is part of BlogHer's Success Tips For My Younger Self editorial series, made possible by Kaplan.
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