(Preface: I wrote this a few months ago when I was still in school, and was getting ready to join Teach For America. Now that it’s all begun, it seemed appropriate to repost it here.)
One of my favorite country music trios, Rascal Flatts, has a song called “Bless the Broken Road.” While I’ve always liked the melody of the song, I’ve only recently listened closely to the lyrics. To the best of my knowledge – and country songs usually aren’t that complex so I think I’m spot on – it’s about the singer’s significant other, and how other romances and missteps led him to said person.
Now that I know what I’ll be doing for the next two years (and couldn’t be more excited), it makes me think about the really broken road that started at the end of my 12th grade year. I was accepted to five colleges, really loved three of them, got into those three, but wasn’t going to be able to afford those three. As a result, the final college decision was picking between two colleges, neither of which felt just right. Obviously, I picked one. But looking back, it makes me think – what if I had picked the other school?
If I didn’t go to Lake Forest, I wouldn’t have become close with Southerners.
If I didn’t meet nice Southerners at Lake Forest, then I wouldn’t have applied to transfer to Vanderbilt.
If VSC didn’t promise to be a place where I could practice journalism without administrative pressures, then I also wouldn’t have applied to transfer to Vanderbilt.
If I didn’t apply to transfer to Vanderbilt out of fear of rejection, I wouldn’t have been accepted.
If I didn’t transfer to Vandy, I wouldn’t have participated in Alternative Spring Break, and wouldn’t have traveled to the Rio Grande Valley and become excited about issues facing the region.
If I didn’t attend ONA10, and stay with Teach For America corps members, I wouldn’t have been excited about Teach For America.
If I wasn’t excited about both Teach For America and the Rio Grande Valley, then I wouldn’t be a 2011 corps member there.
(A particularly weird set of dreams that included being a lousy kindergarten teacher in Charlotte and having a mysterious cat telling me in English about job openings at a specific Spanish-language radio station in McAllen may have also played a role.)
This isn’t a sob story, because I really couldn’t be happier with the end result. But this corny country song has a point. I remember my family leaving right after I moved into the first school and being really afraid: I was half-way across the country at a college that mostly didn’t work out too well. But some things worked out perfectly, and drove me to the next set of challenges.
Now I’m moving somewhere completely new, to work in a profession I know little about, with demographics that will really make me a real minority for the first time ever. But I’m so excited about that challenge, and perhaps more, what the road will lead me to next.