I think that you are always going to be in the right place at the right time.
But you can never know where you would have ended up if you had taken a different fork in the road, and it's always kind of interesting to think about. What would have been gained, what would have been lost, and what was inevitably going to happen no matter what choices you made? Here are some things that I might have done, but didn't...
My friend Jackie is going to teacher training in Hawaii. She tells me I need to come with her. Instead of staying home, saving money, and applying to grad schools, I say "what the hell," and sign up. I've only just recently returned to Bikram yoga after quitting ballet, but my studio owners love me and think I have potential. They give me a 2 week crash course in dialogue before putting me on the plane. It's awesome. I come home after training, go back part-time to the restaurant job that I hate, teach full time in downtown Boston for a while. Two years later - who knows??
(Instead I stayed in Boston, did my first 30 day challenge, did my first yoga competition, got to know my teachers, got to know the other students, and found a new community right where I was.)
After getting into grad school in January, I decide to seize the opportunity and go to teacher training before starting school again. I can do it ALL. I spend all of my savings and buy a plane ticket to Acapulco. It's awesome. Just a couple months after graduating, I leave my support system and move cross-country, flat broke, to start grad school. I get to my new yoga studio as a brand new baby Bikram teacher and no one helps me with dialogue. I'm a new grad student, a new yoga teacher, and a new Californian all at once. It's a bit much.
(Instead I finished paying my dues in the service industry. I came home from work at midnight every night and read Jen's daily TT blog update while eating EasyMac for dinner. I saved up enough money to buy a car, take a cross-country road trip, furnish a new apartment, and eventually go to advanced seminar. I met my yoga mentor and spent time with her every week for 6 months. I learned SO much of what I know now from that time period.)
I've deferred grad school for a year so I can go to the Acapulco training. I am so ready. Four other girls from my studio whose names all start with J are at the training. I am the 5th J. It's awesome. I come back and teach 15 classes a week at all studios around Boston. I get great mentoring and feedback from all the studio owners, and start to get the hang of this teaching thing. I realize that this is an exhausting way to make a living, and I'm a little bit relieved to start school the next fall and do something besides yoga. I don't get to research LEDs like I wanted to because the research group is full and there's less funding in 2009 than there was in 2008.
(Instead, I had the best week of my life when I drove from Boston to LA with my best friend. I had a shitty fall and was homesick all the time. I got exactly the research job that I wanted, but it wasn't that thrilling. I got to meet Bikram and Emmy in LA. I competed at championships in LA and met a whole new group of cool yoga people. I learned how to be a Bikram yogi outside of my safe little bubble.)
(If there is one that I regret missing, it's this one.)
I drop out of grad school after the first 6 months, pack up the car, take out a huge credit card loan, and go to teacher training in Palm Springs. My family is horrified. Except for my two closest friends, I never speak to anyone from UC Santa Barbara again. I'm roommates with one of my friends from New England. It's awesome. After training, I keep on driving east until I get back to Boston. I have job offers from at least 5 different studios in Massachusetts. One of the studio owners lets me stay at her house. I get to teach for my mentor. I get to teach as many classes as I can handle, and then some. I love what I'm doing, but it's a little hard to justify sometimes. I never go back to engineering.
(Instead, I decided to wait things out with academia a little longer. I got a new research supervisor and things turned the corner a bit. I started to enjoy my new home. I started writing. I went from Zen-like acceptance to total impatience and back again. But I didn't renew my housing lease, either.)
I decide that a year of grad school is enough. I follow through on the plans that I made during the first weekend of February. I pack my car and drive to Vegas. I have to say goodbye to a lot of people. I still can't decide whether to teach in Cali for a while or hightail it back to New England. I don't know if I'm done here yet. I stay with Michelle before training and I'm in posture clinics with Mei. I check into the Las Vegas Hilton today. It's awesome. I don't know what happens next.
(Instead, I end up finding a beautiful new house and putting down a couple more roots. My sister moves out to the west coast and stays with me for the year. I go out dancing on Fridays, I meet new people, I have friends over for dinner every Monday. I get a great new research topic, which I have yet to follow through on, but I want to, really. I bring new teachers into the yoga studio. I keep studying, communicating, learning, figuring out my way. I have a good life, but it's not quite complete yet. I don't know what happens next.)
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
You just might find
You get what you need...
(Sometimes the old themes are best....)