#tbt | A Message Back to the Future

 

Have you ever had a strong desire to travel a path only to have a loved one advise against it?

How did it turn out?

Did you acquiesce to their wish? Or did you ignore them and continue?

How would you today, advise you the 17-year-old high school senior of yesterday?

I learned early on that those with “should and must do” need to have cash with their advice. Otherwise, it’s an unfunded mandate to be easily ignored.

Case-in-point, see that chubby cheek brace-face young girl up there? She’s proudly displaying her support for the Redmen; her heart belongs to the Orangemen.

I know because she’s me at 18.

There I was in St. Vincent Hall’s cafeteria at St. John’s University wearing a smile as my makeup. In reality, I was sad because I was supposed to be in Syracuse, NY.

I remember driving to freshman orientation then listening to St. John’s University president, Father Cahill, drone on, “If I kick you out no one can get you back.”

I don’t remember how I got in that seat.
I don’t remember applying, writing an essay or anything. I probably received an acceptance letter, but I don’t remember any fanfare. It was a blur including the heavily censored academic classes.

St. John’s was my plan b. It was Big East school where I could get close to Syracuse by sitting in the bleachers for any of their away games. And I’d still fulfill mother’s wishes.

Let me go back to the beginning.

I was all set to go to Syracuse University. I was mentally preparing myself for the snow and cold. One of my besties, Robin Prescott [Happy Birthday!] and I contemplated on being roomies during our freshman year and ‘Mad’ Women once we graduated.

Robin got into S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Admissions reviewed my “B” average and mediocre SAT scores and gave me a spot in a remedial program for incoming freshman.

“With good grades,” the adviser said. “You can matriculate into the advertising program at Newhouse  in two years.”

Through the program, I would get a mentor and scholarship/grant money. I wouldn’t have to use up my trust fund money to pay tuition.

But my mother wasn’t having any of that. Her daughter wasn’t going to enter any remedial program.

She refused to have anyone attach a remedial label to my academic career.

In her defense, she worked in administration at a pharmacy graduate school. I assumed she knew more than I.

My mother suggested I go to a college close to home. Once I graduated with an associate’s degree, I could transfer to my dream school.

She said I’d be better equipped to handle life. I wouldn’t need a remedial program.

In short, she wanted me to do the same thing the Syracuse University admissions counselor offered but without a mentor, guidance or money.

Unfortunately, at 17 years old, I was too inexperienced to reason.  My father died at the beginning of my senior year.  There was no voice of reason to balance her advice.

So, off to commuter college, I went. None of the local colleges were known for cranking out Mad Women, the career path I’d chosen.

I was 17-years-old, and aside from choosing my friends, this was my first shot at making a life choice. And I let my mother talk me out of it.

I enrolled into a Catholic university as a double minority, since I’m not Catholic. I lost focus, direction and jumped into the party lane.

After a few bumps in the road, bouncing around including giving birth to my oldest daughter, I steered my life in the direction I wanted to go.

About 8-years later, I began my career on Madison Avenue in New York; after summer, weekend and night school.

200 Madison Avenue to be exact is where G.P Putnam’s Sons had their offices.  The trajectory landed me in the marketing and communication department of trade book publishing.

After missing out on attending S.I. Newhouse, I never felt worthy to compete with the real Madison Avenue Ad men and women.

In some weird twist of irony, the Universe saw fit that my newest employer Penguin USA would move to 375 Hudson.

Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the top 5 advertising agencies worldwide, had its headquarters in that building.

Note: This year on my birthday, they moved their offices out of the building.

Anyway, one perk of being a tenant in that building was access to the Saatchi and Saatchi cafeteria.   By then, I’d embraced my default-status life. I had one school-aged daughter, a brand-new set of twin baby girls and a husband.

Therefore, I decided against making any network connections over soup and sandwich.

Looking back, I believe the first choice we make, as an adult, determines the direction of the rest of our life. My career ran parallel to my dream but I never made it on the track.

So, on this Winter Solstice and through the magic of Ausar, Aset, and Heru; I’m telling my 18-year-old self,

“CHOOSE FOR YOURSELF AND CHOOSE WISELY. LIFE CAN BE LONG, CONFUSING AND EXTREMELY MISERABLE IF YOU FIND YOURSELF LIVING A DEFAULT-STATUS.”

The beauty of being a parent is you get a do-over. So, I shared this insight with my daughters through my actions.

I told them,

  • To make good choices, you have to choose for yourself.
  • Choosing helps to exercise human agency.
  • There’s a difference between choices and decisions.

“CHOICES ARE MADE IN THE HEART; DECISIONS ARE MADE IN THE MIND.”

  • If anyone, even a loved-one, fixes their lips to say,

“YOU SHOULD DO THIS, OR YOU MUST DO THAT.”

BUT THEY DON’T HAVE RECEIPTS (EXPERIENCE). ASK IF THEY’RE PREPARED TO FINANCE THEIR CHOICE.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED CAN BE VERY COSTLY IN THE LONG RUN. IF THEY CAN’T; REMIND THEM THEY HAVE NO SAY OR VOTE IN YOUR AFFAIRS.

Furthermore, plan b and living a default life is for suckers.

Your only plan is to say yes to your dreams and desires.

So, what would you tell yourself at 18? Would you offer your child the same advice?

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