If life not shown me what happiness was not, I might not have embarked on a journey to discover what happiness truly is!
Having one’s future all planned out is often a great idea. It gives us purpose, direction and goals to attain. But in my case, it wasn’t so great. Oddly, the same foreign instruction manual that failed to bring me joy ended up providing me with the very catalyst to a happy life!
In the words of a close friend, I was “groomed” from an early age.
The master plan (which certainly sounds good on its surface) would entail my following in my late grandfather’s footsteps to become a New Jersey lawyer. For a girl born in the late ’50s, it was somewhat ambitious and even professionally affirming.
There were just two problems: 1) I didn’t want to practice law and 2) I didn’t want to live in New Jersey.
Though I could have easily articulated the second (negative) goal, the first negative goal was a bit more complex. Why didn’t I want to practice law? Simply put, I had neither passion nor vision for the profession. When laid against my inward leanings, it translated to me as a solitary, rigid and uninspired career.
Despite trying to please those around me and stay true to the instruction manual that would get me to this supposed life goal as a New Jersey lawyer, I became increasingly dis-spirited. The more I moved through the law school process the more “dead” I felt.
We each have our own sense of personal identity and, by age 23, mine felt nearly extinguished. Though my outer shell tried to keep up with expectations, my inward soul was growing progressively isolated and dry. What was it, I wondered? This is supposed to be good for me and my future!
But was it good?
The photo to the left was taken of me on New Year’s Day 1982 in front of Mama Leone’s, a popular New York City restaurant. Having just finished the half-way mark in my law school studies, I felt that each successive day was bringing me closer to an indefinable, impending doom.
The doom I was referring to was a permanent commitment to living an existence that inwardly was not my own. Someone else might have appreciated it, but that someone was not me.
I had loads of fears about exiting the process. Would I disappoint family who expected me to fulfill their expectations? Would I cause my new mother-in-law to think I’d married her son so I could depend on him for support? The latter couldn’t be farther from the truth, but would my less than enthused mother-in-law be just a little bit suspicious?
I didn’t even know what I wanted to do in life.
Though plagued with trepidation as I considered a departure from law school, my present fears were not as daunting – or painful – as pretending to enjoy a career I never wanted. Keeping up appearances until I was old enough to retire and move to Florida wasn’t a viable option. I didn’t believe I had that kind of stamina.
Asking a close friend to join me for moral support, I walked into the registrar’s office of Seton Hall Law School in Newark, NJ and told a perfect stranger behind the desk that I was taking a “leave of absence.” The registrar never blinked while handing me a form to withdraw from fourth semester classes.
I left the building that day with a sigh of relief. And a smile.
Leaving law school marked the beginning of my encounter with self-discovery and self-determination.
It also freed me up to see where life would take me if I was open to new opportunities, new possibilities. This meant I would falter along my own uncharted path, yet make unexpected discoveries about myself and the world along the way. It opened the way for satisfaction in numerous forms of self-expression.
Leaving that foreign instruction manual, I turned the entire concept around.
I might not become a New Jersey lawyer, but I would find out what I would become. The very force that appeared to hold me back became the very catalyst for moving me forward. What daunted me early in life helped prepare me for a future filled with passion, intention and purpose.
My happiness actually comes from seeing others find – and follow – their own GPS system to happiness, purpose and fulfillment.
If you are someone whose insides are yearning for the satisfaction of happiness, freedom and higher self-expression that comes only from within, welcome to this Maura4u site.
Here’s where I incorporate everything I’ve learned about life and share it with others so they can discover their own sense of happiness and well-being, too.
I bring more than just my own journey away from NJ law school. I bring my corporate life, child rearing era, global travels and more into my current roles as HuffPost blogger, podcaster, speaker and publisher of my husband’s MIKE Sports Comic Book series. There’s something to be discovered here for anyone seeking personal inspiration, support and uplift.
Life is more than how we define our careers. And our happiness and well-being is derived from many wonderful perspectives. Every circumstance in life invites us to grow, evolve and become a symbol of our higher self.
We all have a story and each of us is called to follow our inner light. We need not compare ourselves with others but, instead, remain true to ourselves. We’re each a unique gift and treasure waiting to be displayed to the world around us.
Mindful Reflections and More for You Here
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