Make peace with the life you did. Try to Know not to get so that you can make way for the life that can be yours to find its way to you. Recently, I was watching “Devious Maids,” one of the guilty pleasures on Lifetime TV. One of Zoila’s characters is a maid, and she feels that all she can be is a maid because she cannot accept a scholarship and go to college. She does not want her daughter to be a maid, and rightly so. However, the daughter wants to pay for college rather than depend on her mother and father.
Her mother, Zoila, is adamant and does everything to make sure her daughter doesn’t make the same mistake she did, even trying to get her fired from her maid job. Now, the moral here is not that Zoila wanted better for her daughter. It is a fact that Zoila never got over not being able to go to college and pursue her dreams, so she accepted a life of “demeaning servitude” because she thought that was all she was good for.
How many of us are still upset about a life we did not get? I will be the first one to raise my hand. I never got to go to a prestigious University. To this day, I still regret not being accepted to Fordham University, which was my first choice College. There are days when I wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to Fordham University. I do know for a fact that my life would have been different. I loved everything about Fordham U. Its prestige, its alum program, its special programs for High School students, and the programs that I took part in.
I even won an Internship of the Year Award. I had interned at some of the best Companies. My life was on the right path. I was not accepted for reasons that were out of my control, although I had the grades. Instead, I was born at another University, and while that was a private University, it was still not Fordham. I planned to spend two years at that University, get better grades, and then transfer to Fordham University. Yes, I was that obsessed with attending Fordham University. However, life did not work out that way. I made do with the University I was accepted to.
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It was not until I watched that episode of Devious Maid that it hit me. I never made peace with being unable to attend Fordham University or even Fordham Law. Recent circumstances made me realize how much resentment I had for not attending a prestigious University. School and education were my identities. Since I never got to go to Fordham U. for my Bachelor’s degree, I decided to apply to Fordham Law and combine the prestige of becoming a Lawyer with the importance of attending Fordham Law, a Tier 1 Law School. I had to get my J.D., then my LL.M. (Masters of Law), and then my LL.D (Doctorate of Law). But that did not happen. Well, that part was on me.
I realized that I did not want to go to Law School. Oh, the horror of horrors. My family was appalled. They thought I had no direction and I was wasting my life. I still have an Aunt who asks if I will reconsider my decision not to go to Law School. I had to restore my family’s honor and do something prestigious with my life. It would help if I went to Oxford or Cambridge University. I have even encouraged my nephew to use his grades to apply to Oxford or Cambridge. I want him to make something of his life and get the opportunities I never got. I hope he forgives me for putting that on him.
Even though the decision not to go to Law School was mine, I still spent the next ten years resenting my life. I know that if I had certain opportunities, I would have had a better life. Yes, that was how deeply obsessed and meshed my identity was with the “right schools,” “meeting the right people,” marrying “up,” and living the “right affluent lifestyle.” To fuel the fire, I sacrificed my life for “family,” which did not turn out well. It blew up in my face—more pain and resentment.
I have spent many years resenting my life and where it ended. As a result, things came into my life to help me feel worse about that life. Yes, I have done many things that brought me happiness, but that was fleeting. Throughout all that, I learned something significant. No matter how much we may love our surface life, it will be quick if, beneath all that, we are filled with resentment for the life we felt we had missed out on.
One of the things that I have learned about our life is that if we are not OK with where our life is, it is easy for others to make us feel bad about our station in life. However, if we are OK with who we are and where we are, no one can make us feel ashamed or guilty for what we did not achieve by their standards. That is why we must have our life standards and make peace with who, what, and where we are. If we do not like where we are, then we can take steps to change course. We do not need approval from anyone outside us to do things differently.