I graduated from college seven years ago. When I started there four years before, I thought I'd become a politician and work on Capitol Hill. I didn't, and I'm not. And my career is one that, at the time, I honestly never imagined I'd pursue.
In the intervening years, I've taken a lot of steps I never thought I would. At the time, each one was terrifyingly, breathtakingly, horrifyingly scary. (Perhaps you've noticed my tendency to panic... If I am anything, I am consistent. ) And in hindsight, each one was absolutely right.
_ I picked up and packed up moved to strange new cities. Over. And over. And over again, starting out with a fresh slate, each time.
_ I made Chicago my home, even thought the city practically (and for reasons I can't comprehend now) paralyzed me with fear.
_ I bought a condo. The day I closed, I handed someone the largest check I'd ever drawn. My hand shook though each signature at the closing, straight until they handed me the keys.
_ I lived with someone and started planning a life together.
_ I ended it.
And today, I took another step. This one isn't as fundamentally life changing as the others, but that didn't keep me from having that familiar crushing feeling of panic and self-doubt in my chest.
At exactly 5:46 this afternoon, for the first time in 11 years, I handed over my keys, signed some papers and officially became a driver without a car. And it is both terrifying and exciting, panic-inducing and liberating.
On the bus ride back from the dealership, I played with my demonstrably lighter key chain and thought about all the things I never thought I'd do. And how my life today is so, so, SO different from what I thought it would be. And you know what? I'm totally ok with that.
So, tonight, I am raising a glass and proposing a toast. Here's to anyone who's taking steps they never thought they would and being brave enough to follow through.