The Life I Never Knew I Wanted

Everyone has this idea in their head of what their life is going to be like. What they want it to be like.

I was never the girl to dream of the big fancy wedding with my Prince Charming. Sure, I played with my Barbie dolls and all. But it was always another fantasy world. Not my own. I think that’s where my desire to be an actress started.

Growing up I wanted to be a movie star. That dream held strong for many years. I watched my sister show her interest in drama through college and I think that only made my dreams even stronger.

When I finally made it to high school where there was a drama class I LOVED it. I was the shyest person on the planet and just talking to people and getting up in front of a class to speak brought the fiercest form of terror in me. But that didn’t stop me. I fought through the fear. I watched movies religiously and read books like they were going out of style. I loved a good story and loved to escape into a fantasy world. So drama class and acting was a dream come true for me.

As much as my anxiety crippled me, I fought through it and on into college continued my dream of being a film actor. I had a massive collection of acting books. I learned all about the techniques. I read books on how to make it in Hollywood. I had this whole plan. But the fear of public speaking never left me.

My fear and doubt caused me to think maybe my dream wasn’t possible. I lived in small town Alabama. Thousands of miles away from Hollywood. And I was scared of everything. So when I started junior college in that small town that I was scared to leave, I majored in business.

When the time came to move on from junior college I went to Troy. Close to home. Small. Easy. Still with the business major in mind. It wasn’t until I got to the actual college orientation sitting in the auditorium waiting to be sent my separate way for the major I had chosen and heard them say something about Theatre majors that I realized, wait. What am I doing? I don’t give a crap about business. I want to be an actress. So off I went. Back towards my dream I’d had since childhood.

And I loved it. But I was still terrified. Of everything. It was work. A LOT of work. I was having to take all the classes associated with the whole business of theatre. Costumes. Set design. Directing. And on and on. But I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to act. I wanted to play pretend. I wanted to live in that fantasy world.

Fast forward through a year and a half of stress and confusion and all the typical emotions a college aged kid has and I ended up having a mental breakdown basically. I called my parents crying. I couldn’t do it. I was overwhelmed. I was scared. I had too much doubt. So I came home. Dropped out of school and started working for the family business.

The dream never left me though and I continued reading my acting books and reading plays and watching endless movies dreaming of that day I’d be accepting my Oscar reaching that endpoint I’d dreamed of my whole life.

The summer after I had dropped out of college I went to a four week acting workshop with the New York Film Academy. Honestly, I think my parents felt sorry for me and just wanted me to be happy. So they paid for me to go do this. And it was a DREAM COME TRUE. It only confirmed what I’d known my whole life. This is the life I wanted. I had encouragement from the teachers there that I had a talent. And I was all fired up about it. I came home with a plan. I was going to move to Wilmington, NC. There was a film industry there, but it was nowhere near the size of Los Angeles and it would be perfect for a small town girl like me to start living my dream.

And then it happened again. Fear. Anxiety. Doubt.

I let it get the best of me and just like that I was back stuck it my same easy routine of working the family business. And before I knew it that dream had left me.

But my dreams for something more never did.

Fast forward SEVERAL years and I’m a 28 year old woman just trying to be happy. Trying to find my place is this world. Trying to decide what I wanted out of this life.

I knew I wanted to be happy first and foremost. And I knew I wanted to see the world. I wanted to experience EVERYTHING. And so I was. I had let my fear, anxiety and doubt rule my life for far too long and it was time to take control. I was going to live my best life for myself and by myself. I didn’t need anyone I just needed to see the world.

And so I purchased a plane ticket to Thailand. I found a travel blogger that was giving group tours and I had four choices of where I could go. I can’t remember what the others were exactly, but I knew Thailand was a place I’d never think of on my own to go, so I thought, what the hell. And I did it. I bought the ticket. And my life was headed in a new direction. I still had several months before the actual trip, but I felt good. Life felt good. Everything felt right. This was my beginning and I was going to travel the world.

And then one random October day in 2013, four months before my month long trip to Thailand was to take place, I was talking to my mom who at the time was all about some backyard bonfires. She needed firewood. I remembered seeing a guy I sort of knew selling a whole crap load of fire wood on Facebook for only $75 and I told her about it and off we went to load up three truck loads of firewood at this guys house. This guy I sort of knew. This guy named Poe.

That night after picking up the firewood I remember mentioning to my mom how Poe seemed like a really nice guy. How he’d actually be someone I’d like to date. And I never really said that about ANYONE.

Maybe a week or couple weeks, I can’t remember exactly, but some time went by and he never really left my mind. It was that tiny little thought in the back of your head that you just can’t seem to let go of. Then one night I was hanging out with my mom again watching football and this guy I barely knew that I just couldn’t get out of my mind, this guy named Poe who we’d bought firewood from messaged me to see what I was up to and we ended up going out for drinks that same night.

I had no idea at the time, but that night was the beginning of the life I was meant to live. The life I never knew I wanted.

That night was perfect. He was perfect. We talked non-stop the entire time and it was like we fit together better than anyone I’d ever known.

But it was nearing the end of 2013 and my whole new amazing life was just about to start when I left for Thailand in February 2014.

We continued to talk and date and then February rolled around. I left for Thailand and I talked to Poe every single day. You’d of thought we’d been together for years. I was living a dream seeing some amazing sights, but in the midst of it all I wanted to talk to this amazing guy about any and everything.

I came home and we became each others lives. I still had the dream of traveling, but here was this man that I was quickly falling for. Hard.

I still had the same fear, anxiety and doubt that had ran me off from any other good thing in my life lurking inside my head and if it weren’t for fate taking over at this point who knows where we would be in life right now, but late one night in July or August in the middle of the night sleepy and terrified we saw a pregnancy test turn positive.

And if you haven’t been following my blog and you want more specific details into where the story goes from here check out my post Mothers: Having One, Loving One, Being One.

So here we are now three short years later and we’ve just had our third beautiful baby and received news that no parent ever wants to hear about their sweet precious child. (More info on that here.)

Apollo has brain damage that is going to cause unknown delays and complications in his development and his life. And once again the fear, anxiety and doubt that has ruled all 33 years of my life is trying to barrel it’s way back into my brain.

A lot of the time I’m scared and I’m sad. This isn’t the life we had planned with our little babies.

But when do we stop thinking our lives are going to be what we planned? When do we stop trying to make everything what we want it to be? What we THINK it should be.

Right now. That’s when.

We have been given a rare opportunity in life to stop planning. Because we can’t. We can’t plan for a future that has no definite outcome. And that is just how life is. You always think you can plan it out, but just look at my story. NOTHING has worked out like I “planned” and it has’t stopped me yet.

Beautiful things continue to happen every day and nothing is like I had planned.

And as every new day comes I’m learning to be perfectly ok with that.

So no, this isn’t the life I planned, but this is the life I’m meant to live. And as scary and full of surprises as it may be, I have to admit, it’s pretty damn amazing.

8 Comments

  1. Oh Jennifer, beautifully written. You’ve been given a gift, something impossible to shy away from or hide from. Major things pop up in life that we never expect to encounter on our journey through this world and we’re forced to take it head on as there is no choice. What comes out of these unforeseen challenges can be blessings we never saw coming. You, my friend, are a writer. Keep on sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so beautifully written. In stead of acting, maybe you were suppose to be a writer😍
    Blogs like this can give hope to persons undergoing stress in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer –
    We’ve never met but I know you through Lup & your Mom. This is so beautifully written and heartfelt – I found it so touching and TRUE. It is a lesson that we learn over & over…we don’t control the outcome. We can only live our best life. All the best to you in this path.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The things we experience, or don’t, make us into the people we are. Not all good, not what we think what we need and not what we want. You have a life full of experiences and it’s just beginning. Live it! Beautiful beginning of a story that I’m anxious to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Kelly Douglas Shepherd Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s