Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Weekend Open Thread: The Moment Everything Changed

Larry Smith, the founder of Smith Magazine, has edited a poignant new collection of essays called “The Moment” about the blip in time that a person’s life veers in a new direction. My own personal “moment that changed everything” came nearly six years ago when my friend Meg picked up her phone in Chicago and called her friend Drew in Manhattan and asked if he’d like to show me around when I visited New York a couple of weeks later. He took me out for sushi, we ended up spending most of the weekend together, and dated long distance — flying back and forth between our two cities once or twice a month — for a year and a half before I packed up my stuff, moved to New York, started a career as an online writer, got married, moved to Brooklyn, used my success in web writing to launch my own site, and then had a baby. Who knows where I’d be if Meg hadn’t made that fateful call one April afternoon in 2006. I bet I would have met someone else eventually, but not Drew. And I wouldn’t have Jackson. And I probably wouldn’t live in New York, a city I have grown to love and call home. And it’s likely I wouldn’t be doing the kind of work that I’m doing now. When Drew and I met, I was on track to be an English teacher — something I don’t think I would have been very good at or that would have brought me the same satisfaction and freedom that this gig does.

So, what about you? What’s your “Moment”? And where do you think you’d be if that change hadn’t happened?

110 comments… add one
  • avatar

    rangerchic January 20, 2012, 5:33 pm

    My moment was, at the age of 18, found two lines on the pregnancy test. I was way to young. My dad always said growing up “just don’t make any life changing/altering mistakes”. Boy, I missed the boat on that one. I know if I had not had my daughter so soon my life would be totally different, I would not be married to the man I am married to (not my daughters bio father – though he adopted her right after we were married when she was 3); I don’t know where I would be but I would not be where I am today. I would never ever say she was a mistake – because I love her dearly and my life is better for her – but I do wonder how my life would have turned out if I didn’t start my adulthood with a child.

    It is not advisable to have a child so early. I feel I am lucky – I had determination to make our lives better – went to college and got a degree, married a great man who loves her as his own, have another beautiful daughter, and a nice place to live. But that moment 16 1/2 yrs ago changed my life forever.

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    Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Ok, I’ll go first: I can’t think of any such moments. I just have a whole lot of moments where nothing changed. But, I will have a “moment everything changed” soon. In the next few weeks I must decide: (1) to accept a job at a small firm (and stay in Chicago for the foreseeable future – at least another few years) or (2) to leave my current job with no new opportunity lined up, buy a car, go on a long cross-country road trip, and eventually move to Minneapolis to be near family… and then find a job there. … WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO?

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      Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 5:36 pm

      Oops, I was slow to post – Ok, I’ll go second.

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        ForeverYoung January 20, 2012, 7:25 pm

        I am still hoping my “aha” moment is yet to come. Otherwise i’m really screwed. I can’t wait to hear what you decide. Whatever ended up happening with the in-house counsel situation?

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        Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 7:37 pm

        I’m still on the hunt for one. I guess there’s an Option 3 in this dilemma – where miraculously I get offered an in-house job; but my hopes are dwindling. I keep getting rejected. I don’t know why – I’m such a fucking delight! … I press onward. Sigh.

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      • MELH

        MELH January 20, 2012, 9:10 pm

        I know how you feel! I’ve been onthehunt for a legal job, any legal job since before I graduated in May. And the rejection letters/ emails just keep pouring in!

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      • avatar

        kali January 21, 2012, 4:13 pm

        It took me 3.5 months and over 1000 resumes to get the gig I have now as a PR Manager at a company I love with great benefits, a terrific salary, awesome coworkers and the bestest boss ever! Keep plugging away and it WILL happen!

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      • avatar

        cporoski January 21, 2012, 12:04 pm

        Here is the funny thing about those moments….you don’t know they are changing your life until you look backward. Like, the moment I met my husband was fireworks, but the moment that lead to that was pretty normal.

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    • Lyra

      L January 20, 2012, 6:00 pm

      The Minnesotan in me wants to tell you to move to Minneapolis. You would looooove living here because Minnesota is awesome! 🙂

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        Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 6:19 pm

        Minnesota is awesome – and I love the cold, cross-country skiing, and all that jazz. But I also like my urban life and in particular: having everything I need within a 1/2 mile radius; having a doorman; not having a yard; walking everywhere; not owning a car; public transportation; my mafia pizzeria; Chicago politics; and the network of friends I have here. Those things I would miss a lot. But Minnesota has: my little nephew and niece (oh and my brother and sister-in-law too) and I’m sure eventually a job and a network of friends…. I’m torn! I need someone to tell me what to do.

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        sarita_f January 20, 2012, 7:19 pm

        Take 6 months off, go on that road trip, hang out with the nephew and niece, then go back to Chicago.

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        plasticepoxy January 23, 2012, 2:48 pm

        Downtown Mpls has those things (well, some of those things). I live in a neighborhood just outside downtown Mpls and I can walk to pretty much everything I need/want, with the exception of work. Oh, and I drive to the grocery store, because I think that’s easier. I guess I’m saying, “Come to MN!”.

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    • avatar

      kittyk January 20, 2012, 9:49 pm

      Road trip! and take me with you… that’s all I want to do right now…

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      Wendy's Dad January 21, 2012, 10:39 am

      Hey, Addie Pray, Wendy’s mom and I own a house in Springfield, MO. We will most likely move there when my wife retires. We also love Columbia. Our other daughter lived there for a while. Great little city! Now, something I wanted to tell you, and don’t shoot me! Have you considered the military JAG corps for a career? It’s worth looking into. I worked for the Defense Department for 36 years, and my wife still does, so we know the military. Great benefits, and a chance to do all sorts of legal work, anything from “house counsel” to trial attorney (prosecutor) to trial defense counsel (a separate command altogether). And you can get grad school paid for, super road trips (and some not so super ones!), and free or greatly reduced housing. No doormen, though. You owe it to yourself to at least check it out. I’m cringing now as all of Wendy’s fans prepare to jump all over me.

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        Addie Pray January 21, 2012, 11:16 am

        Thanks, Wendy’s Dad! That’s good advice. (And if Wendy’s fans jump all over you, I will protect you.) I hadn’t looked into JAG, but I should. I have a brother who is a doctor in the navy, and he really enjoys it (and the perks). JAG’s “house counsel” option sounds most up my alley. … Or maybe I could be like Demi Moore in A Few Good Men, minus that haircut?

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        Something More January 21, 2012, 12:54 pm

        I actually think this is a great idea! Just one other option to look into and keep open. Good Luck!

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        *HmC* January 22, 2012, 10:44 pm

        I briefly looked into JAG work and was THIS close to signing on just based on the amazing benefits and stable salary, but I called it off last minute because I decided it wasn’t for me after all. Definitely worth a look though!

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      • theattack

        theattack January 23, 2012, 2:08 am

        I’ve heard from several attorneys that JAG job openings are pretty slim lately. It would be a sweet deal, but they’re not easy to get in any branch of the military right now.

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      • avatar

        WatersEdge January 22, 2012, 1:27 pm

        I’m a military psychologist (not the same, but using a professional degree in military) and I LOVE it! I am light years ahead of my peers in terms of benefits, training, compensation, and quality of life. I highly recommend it!

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    amber January 20, 2012, 5:37 pm

    I was living on Cape Cod, I had a chance to move from part-time to full-time at the job I was working at. I didn’t get the promotion. I thought it was the worst thing that could have happened. I thought I was supposed to live there forever. I decide to move back home and got a part-time job doing something I never thought I’d love to do. Eventually I realized it was a perfect fit and it was the perfect job for me. If I didn’t move back home I wouldn’t have a career I love, I wouldn’t have my husband, the friends I made at my last job, I wouldn’t have my new job that I love even more than the last (with my pretty new office that i just decorated 7 months after moving here) or my dogs.

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    Buzzelbee January 20, 2012, 5:44 pm

    Mine was way back senior year of high school. I decided to go to the local university and my friend Ted suggested I request to share my dormroom with his friend Sarah and since I didn’t have any other plans I agreed to meet Sarah. We ended up living together freshman year, which is when I met her former boyfriend Matt, who was taking a year off from university and back living at home. Naturally I became friends with Matt and eventually started dating him. Fast forward 12 years from my conversation with Ted and I’m happily married to Matt with a good job. Who knows where I would have ended up if I didn’t have Matt’s support through all the trials of undergrad, gradschool, and looking for a job, not to mention adopting my now 7 year old adorablly twitchy cat.

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    callmehobo January 20, 2012, 5:47 pm

    Can I have a thread-jacking here? I am in a bit of a pickle.

    I went to visit my dad today, and we went and ran some errands together. While running errands, he asked me to grab his smart phone and search for something on google (not snooping, I swear!). I clicked on the internet app, and the home site was AshleyMadison.com, which is a website dedicated to discreet affairs. I quickly went to google and looked up the information that he asked for, and I didn’t say anything.

    The thing is, when I was younger, my dad DID have an affair, and it was horrible and messy. I think that I shouldn’t say anything- but I’m just a little torn.

    Help?

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    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am January 20, 2012, 5:55 pm

      Ask your Dad about it. Just be, hey I saw something on your phone and since you are my Dad, I want you to be upfront an honest with me. Keep the conversation between you and your Father. You never know, your Mom may know and she may not. You wouldn’t believe what parents do and will keep from their children to keep the look of happiness apparent to the people they come in contact with.

      Remember, keep it between your Dad and yourself. I’ve never heard of that site, but I clearly doubt it’s something you just search in your free time unless you are just looking for something.

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      GatorGirl January 20, 2012, 5:55 pm

      Can you just say something to your dad? Clearly it won’t be an easy conversation, but I would say he is the only person you should bring the website up to. There is a chance he was just curious, or a friend was using the phone, or maybe he was thinking about straying but hasn’t yet.

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    • avatar

      slamy January 20, 2012, 5:56 pm

      It was the home site?! Geez. You would think he would remember that before having you look something up. Sorry that I don’t have any advice, just this comment. 😛

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      Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 5:59 pm

      Do you have a direct, open, blunt, etc. relationship with your dad? If yes, I’d just call him out on it like I did the one time my dad said he liked Celine Deon – “Dude, Dad, wth? That’s just wrong.” That’s what I’d do. Say “Seriously, Dude, why are you checking out AshleyMadison.com, eh??” See what he says. (I say Dude a lot.)

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        callmehobo January 20, 2012, 6:08 pm

        I do have a pretty honest and open relationship with my dad. I just don’t know if I should stay out of it or not. When he had his (first?) affair, he became EXTREMELY verbally abusive. I just can’t stand to see him become like that, especially after he worked so hard to heal all the hurt he caused. It’s just disappointing, that’s all.

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        ForeverYoung January 20, 2012, 7:29 pm

        Are your parents still together? If so I would definitely say something to him about it. And bring it up in a non-confrontational way, almost as if you’re joking about it or really casual. Kinda like AP said, like um hey so ashley madison huh? That’s silly.

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      • avatar

        amber January 20, 2012, 8:01 pm

        i mean i would approach it as someone else said, Dad I saw something on your phone that has been making me uncomfortable and I need to tell you about it. Leave it open so that he cal explain or not, I think his response will tell a lot. Also it just really sucks that you had to see that on your Dad’s phone. No matter what your age, it’s not something you really want to be faced with.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray January 22, 2012, 9:03 am

        callmehobo, don’t forget to update us on this one!

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny January 20, 2012, 6:00 pm

      I would totally stay out of it. I would, however, advise him to change his home page.

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    GatorGirl January 20, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Ooo. I like this! My moment was September 4, 2007. Or maybe it was January 15, 2007.

    On 1/15/07 I was hired for a job at a restaurant in my college town. Also working there was a guy, who I thought was pretentious, and had a huge ego, and was totally lame. We did not get along at all. I went home for the summer and forgot about this guy I couldn’t stand. On 1/4/07 I returned to that same restaurant to try to get rehired since I was back for my senior year of college. When I walked into the entryway of the restaurant and there was the same guy bartending. Literally it was love at second sight. Because of him I had the courage to break up with my menatlly and physically abusive BF and get rid of some train wreck friends. We’ve been together for four years now, through almost every hurdle you can think of and still going strong. We spent 2 years, 10 months and 10 days long distance, dealt with infidelity, survived his masters program, and have moved in together. We’re planning for a fall wedding.

    If I hadn’t gone to get my job back…I would have married my abusive ex. We’d probably have some kids, and I know his abusive ways haven’t changed. I’m so thankful for my healthy and happy relationship with my BF. He’s the best. Even when I want to strangle him.

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  • Lyra

    L January 20, 2012, 5:52 pm

    My “Moment” was actually in 7th grade. I was incredibly shy and rather unpopular in middle school. I had people who I thought were my “friends” but of course, would talk about me behind my back, make fun of me, and made my life a living hell. I ate lunch alone for about 6 months and it sucked. Then one day, for whatever reason, I decided I was sick of eating alone. I brought my lunch tray to the garbage and walked back not to my lonely table in the corner, but to a group of girls that I had been sort of watching from afar. I had no idea who they were besides the fact that they were all in band with me, but they looked like they were a lot of fun. I silently sat down next to them. I was too shy to even introduce myself. They welcomed me into their group with open arms and I knew almost immediately that I had finally found a group of legitimately great friends. Throughout our friendship, especially in those first years, they helped me break out of my shell and to find myself — yes I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

    The group changed a bit through the rest of our middle school years and into our high school years, but some girls from that initial group remain my best friends to this day, 11 years later. I plan on asking them to be bridesmaids in my wedding, whenever that might be. They are the people who I know I can call at 4 am if I need to talk. I’m so thankful my 7th grade self decided to be uncharacteristically bold at lunch that day because my friends are absolutely amazing!

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      lets_be_honest January 23, 2012, 1:39 pm

      I loved this one.

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  • Will.i.am

    Will.i.am January 20, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Mine was March of last year. I had been working in the department I’m in now for almost 4 years. A co-worker decided to leave and go on to greener pastures. I used those next 3 months to finish up college and formulate a plan and spark an idea to be the go to guy in my department. Seven months later, I already training to fall into a different position two or three years out.

    I know it’s not very exciting, but for the raise I got for my efforts, made me smile like a girl who’s crush said yes! It was one of the few times I felt I really had made it and this is where I want my career to be! That’s an amazing feeling!

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    AnonymousGirl January 20, 2012, 5:58 pm

    Wow. My moment? I can’t say that’s it’s specifically one moment, because even that first one could have went a completely different way, but I’ll try as near as I can (and now that I said that, it’s 2 moments..) Anonymously though, because this isn’t a ‘nice’ story to most, and I understand why.

    I had been married to my then husband for about 3 years, after a 5 year long distance relationship. We had not had sex for the latter 2 of those years. Suffice it to say, there were major issues that I had struggled with, and unfortunately I had done this alone as he would not (or could not) help himself or us as a couple. Moment #1 came as a dream. We had watched a very romantic movie, which upset me greatly in relation to our relationship. All I wanted was for him to look at me like that.. he admitted he couldn’t. That night I had a dream, in which I fought a demon, and chose to throw myself off of a building rather than stay with the demon. I woke up, and knew something was different. I decided to start looking at hook up options in my city. In my head, I thought this might end up an open relationship. But, I was chicken. I was a very shy quiet person, who did not trust anyone.

    Then I went away on a work trip with my boss and a few coworkers a few months later. My boss had also been having marital troubles. You can see where I’m going with this. For the first few months, I saw this as something nice on the side. Then we decided it was time to leave our spouses and be together. Once I made that step to move out was my moment #2. I was suddenly happy again. People who I’d known for years told me how happy and alive I looked.

    That was 6 years ago this year, and we’re getting married this year. It has not been an easy road, for either of us. That first year of being ‘out’ was full of stress, and lots of communication – and I’m leaving out a lot of gory details. But that girl from 6 years ago? She’s gone. Replaced with someone I forgot I was. Confident, outspoken. Shy? Never. If I had not had those moments, I think I’d still be struggling to find my place in this world, with little hope in my heart.

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      GatorGirl January 20, 2012, 7:20 pm

      While most would say it isn’t a “nice” story, I’m happy for you. My path to my current relationship is similar. Leaving my old relationship- even though it was messy and both my BF and I were involved with other people when our relationship started- was the best thing I have ever done. It really saved me.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl07 January 20, 2012, 6:13 pm

    April 10, 1981. On this day my Dad passed away. Life would be very different if he were still around.

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      Nikki January 22, 2012, 10:53 am

      October 2nd, 2009. I get lost in my thoughts sometimes, wondering how things would have been if my Dad was still around. I don’t know if life would be easier or harder. There is so much I wanted him around for, like my art show and graduation from University, as well as those big moments that haven’t happened yet like a wedding or grandchildren.

      However but there is a lot that has happened that probably wouldn’t have if he was still alive. I became very close with a couple of people in my friend group who I didn’t think I ever would. I’ve had a couple job opportunities that only came about due to events that occured after the funeral. Even my attitude towards my education changed. I was so sick of school, dreading going back. I took a semester off to help my mother sort out everything. When I went back, I was more determined than ever to get my degree and I think it really helped inspire my final art project.

      I feel I’ve grown up a lot in the 2 years that have passed, become a little more out going and a little more assertive. My relatinship with my mother has changed drastically, I think for the better (though without my Dad around, I sure do get annoyed with her faster than usual, lol).

      It’s hard to believe good things can happen after terrible events. Still, I can’t help but wonder if I could change things and bring him back, I would sacrifice everything that has happened since? And I can’t help but feel like a terrible daughter for thinking like that.

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      Something More January 22, 2012, 6:29 pm

      landlady07, I’m sorry for your loss.

      My dad passed away on April 16, 1991. I often wonder what would be different. My mom moved us from Florida back to her home in Arizona after he died. Everything would be COMPETELY different. I wouldn’t have met my ex, wouldn’t have my two incredible kids, wouldn’t live where I live to meet my awesome boyfriend. Crazy to think about.

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  • JK

    JK January 20, 2012, 6:31 pm

    I love looking back at my life, at all the decisions I´ve made (and others have made) that define the way my life is. For example, my husband originally started studying to work in international commerce, he later dropped out to study to become a physiotherapist (in part due to the rehab he had after a back surgery and a motorbike accident), and we met at work in aphysical rehab clinic, so if all those things hadn´t happened we probably would never have met.

    However, I would have to say the moment that totally changed my life was February 24th, 1995, the day my mum, brother and I moved to Argentina from NZ (my sister was already here, my dad followed).
    I can´t even begin to imagine what my life would be like if it wasn´t for that! I was 16 when we moved, so I had to finish High School here, I left behind my group of friends, I didn´t even speak fluent spanish when we came!!!

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      Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 6:55 pm

      When I was 10 my parents moved from Springfield, Missouri to Columbia, Missouri, and I thought my life was over. (But of course Columbia turned out to be The Best Little Town Ever.) All that to say, I would have been really devestated to move at 16 to a whole new country. So, do you have an accent when you speak Spanish or are you able to pass as a native speaker? And are you raising your kids bilingual? My nephews/nieces are all being raised bilingual – those lucky shits.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy January 20, 2012, 6:56 pm

        I didn’t know you stated out in Springfield. That place has a little bit of my heart. I live there from 1994 to 2000.

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        Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 7:03 pm

        Yup! I was born there and lived there until I was 10 (or 11 actually) – until 1989. I forget sometimes though, because I identify so much with being from Columbia. The only things I remember are my neighborhood (I lived in Oak Knolls off Sunshine), the big Sam’s on Sunshine that used to be a drive-in, the bus route to Wilder Elementary School,… and Skateport, my favorite place to go back in the day! Oh, and I remember the grocery store there was called Consumers. Funny things you remember.

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        Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 7:04 pm

        Did you used to hang out in those places? I’m guessing those weren’t hotspots for a college student.

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      • JK

        JK January 20, 2012, 7:18 pm

        If I have an accent depends on who you ask (most people say I have a small one, but they think it´s more regional than foreign).
        My idea was to raise the girls bilingual,but it´s really hard, supposeldy one parent is supposed to speak exclusively in one language, the other in the other language, but I find it really hard to do. My husband does speak english but not fluently, and in public I feel really awkward.
        I have always sung english songs to them, and the eldest watches movies in english or spanish (not sure how much she gets from the dialogue and how much from watching them a million times, she wore out the Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast dvds), she has english in kindy and has picked up quite a bit from there, but she´s really stubborn, so when I try to teach her or correct her she argues with me!!!

        And yes it was devastating leaving NZ at 16, I cried for the entire plane ride over!!! But now I wouldn´t leave Argentina for anything (and definitely not my life!!)

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        Addie Pray January 20, 2012, 7:30 pm

        That makes sense. My sisters-in-law (both foreign) say the same thing. I remember visiting my twin nephews when they were 4, and they were finally speaking a lot. (For the first few years they were just speaking baby speak or their own version of the two languages they were getting at home – English and Portuguese). Then they went to Brazil for 6 weeks. On their way back, we got to visit again. And one of the twins kept talking to me in Portuguese. He just looked at me like I was crazy for not understanding him. He was so frustrated; he didn’t know how to switch back into English after 6 weeks in Rio. The other one – (ha – the one I may have dubbed “the smart one” from the very beginning – I know, bad) – was able to figure out that you have to speak English with Auntie Addie and Portuguese with their mom. So he chimed in to help, “No, you have to speak English with her.” For some reason that fascinated me. To see these little 4 year olds figuring out two languages and changing from one to the other. God they were cute when they were 4. Now they are video game-obsessed freakshows. But still cute. 😉

        I got to get out of this office. TGIF, baby!

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      • JK

        JK January 20, 2012, 9:55 pm

        I find the acquisition of language so fascinating, it´s amazing that at 6 months old babies can distinguish between the sounds of their native language and another one!!!
        And I´m not going to say you´re bad for being objective, I´m probably one of the most objective mothers there is (just yesterday y jusband said I was mean because I said the baby is a lot prettier than what the 4yo was at that age).

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        NicoleMarie January 20, 2012, 8:56 pm

        From Columbia, woot woot! Carry on…

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        Addie Pray January 21, 2012, 12:38 am

        You a Kewpie like me? (Yes, guys, my high school mascot was a kewpie – as in the doll – a white, naked, baby doll with a little cusp of hair… Jealous, much? As you should be.)

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        Addie Pray January 21, 2012, 12:56 am

        (And now that I think about it – I think I may have asked you that awhile back… but you are, right??)

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        NicoleMarie January 23, 2012, 12:54 pm

        I only had 1 year as a Kewpie, sadly 🙁 My family moved to CA after my freshman year (what an awkward time to move to a new place!)

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        Daisy January 21, 2012, 8:35 am

        Lots of good Missouri representation on DW! I grew up in St. Louis and as a kid I used to go to Columbia a few times a year to see a doctor at the university hospital. I came to associate Columbia with a day off school and therefore I loved it! Then, when I was 24 I moved to Israel and for the first few months I lived in an immigrant absorption center (basically a dorm for new immigrants). And believe it or not, one of the first people I met at the absorption center was from Columbia! So Missourians are everywhere… on Dear Wendy and in Israel too!

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        iseeshiny January 21, 2012, 2:15 pm

        I’m from St. Louis too – I went to college in Kirksville and we would go to Columbia for the weekend just to go to Target.

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    Britannia January 20, 2012, 8:54 pm

    My moment was when I woke up after the car crash I was in during the summer of 2010. It almost killed me – destroyed my spine (it’s been rebuilt with titanium rods, screws, and cages). I had some amnesia and could barely remember what I even liked to eat, or how to spend my time. I couldn’t walk.

    I remember just laying there in the hospital bed… I was in such shock, I never once turned on the television for distraction. It felt like my slate had been wiped clean and I had had the “Restart” button hit on my life… physically, mentally, family-wise. I’d been a drug addict and a chronic lay-about for most of my life, with many big issues (an abusive home life as a child, depression, suicide attempts, 3 of my teenaged years spent in a “boot camp” for troubled teens where I was intensely abused and brainwashed). But none of that seemed to matter anymore. I had tasted death and realized that I appreciated my body and my life and no longer had any tolerance for toxicity.

    Once I could no longer control my body, I started to respect it and have a deep gratitude for when it would work with me. I now eat healthily, don’t use drugs, sleep regularly, and make sure that I get lots of fresh air and do a lot of yoga. I feel a million times better than I ever have before. Simply being able to get out of my chair and walk around without requiring a morphine patch and a walker moves me to tears out of gratitude, sometimes.

    My family came to my side, even though I honestly didn’t expect them to be there for me. When I became too much of a nuisance at the age of 14, they sent me off to a lock down, essentially a super strict and psychologically abusive juvenile hall, and I didn’t see them again until right before I turned 18. They might have well been strangers to me… well, strangers who had incurred a whole lot of resentment from me. My relationship with my grandparents did a complete 180* after the accident, because they really stepped up to the plate and showed me how dedicated they were to my recovery and success, and I am now a devoted and loving granddaughter who can tell them anything. They’ve forgiven me for all the crazy shit I’ve done that disappointed them, and we have banded together despite my mother’s negativity to become a functional and happy family unit. I ended up cutting ties with my toxic mother because I realized that the constant abuse and stress was just not worth the idea of “being a good daughter” to her and letting her disrespect me. My life, especially my mental health, has gotten better a hundred fold since going radio silence on her.

    I found out who my real friends were — they were the ones who wanted to see me and spend time with me even though I didn’t have tons of money to blow or drugs to share. The friends who came to visit me even when I couldn’t even get out of a chair are the ones who are still my friends today. I stopped talking to everyone else, basically, and my life is also better because of it. I realized that life is way too short and time is way too valuable to voluntarily have any sort of bullshit in my life, basically.

    I revamped every aspect of my life, to put it in a nutshell. I live in a physically and mentally healthy way, now, and I really appreciate every single day I wake up. I’m not sure I can say that I’m grateful that the accident happened to me, because I’m going to deal with a whole lot of tough and expensive health problems for the rest of my life, but I sure as hell am grateful for the wake up call.

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      Kristen January 20, 2012, 9:49 pm

      Wow, that’s a powerful story. Your grandparents sound like great people.

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    • katie

      katie January 20, 2012, 10:17 pm

      i agree- what an amazing story!

      and i dont think it would be wrong of you to say your grateful for the accident. sometimes drastic things have to happen to wake us up…

      i know that i am grateful that my parents got divorced- it gave me the life i have now, a life i would have never had if they had stayed together. even though divorce is a horrible thing, like a car accident, i know i am grateful for what it did to my life.

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      Rachel January 21, 2012, 11:54 am

      What an amazing story. So glad you were able to turn around such a bad moment into such great things.

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    Sue Jones January 20, 2012, 10:02 pm

    There have been many such moments, but…I was a singer growing up. I was really good, but not “good enough” … My senior year of high school I was going for the lead in the musical. It was my big goal in high school, supposedly the culmination of years and years of hard work to be able to be the one who shined onstage. I was expected to get it, or at the very least “2nd cast” lead. I had been groomed for it by the man who ran the choir and musicals… well he left the school middle of my junior year and there was all new people running the musical. I did not get a lead. People got leads who were not even singers, they just had the right hair color and ethnic background. I quit the musical since I could not imagine being on stage and rehearsing, watching these others doing it. I thought it would possibly kill my spirit. So I partied a lot… a LOT… and I wrote a kick ass 30 page biology research paper and got an A in it. I majored in biology in college and then went to med school. It took me 30 years to go back to singing in any sort of formal way, but 2 years ago I joined a community chorus. Last year I even soloed. I love it.

    Also I learned a very important lesson. Though it was heartbreaking to not be the lead onstage, I learned that unexpected stuff happens at the decision-making level that can have an effect. One can get passed over for a promotion one was sure to get, even when one is the most qualified, etc.. Someone you were sure you would marry dumps you, the life you were sure you would have changes… this stuff has happened to almost everyone I know at some point in their lives.. When this stuff happened to me, I have found myself to be unexpectedly resilient. Perhaps owing to that first big life disappointment… I learned it early… so that not too much surprises me anymore…

    I suppose I owe my current career to this… one that probably is far more lucrative than singing… and I still get to sing!

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    Bekah January 20, 2012, 10:13 pm

    The moment that changed my life was going to a dive bar in Prague. I only went there once in the entire 2 years after I returned to Prague after studying abroad there. My co-teacher wanted to go to a crazy place for one night, so I took her there. In the process, I met my future fiancee. Changed my life forever, I ended up moving half way around the world and getting engaged. My profession changed, my religion changed, literally everything in my life changed after that but in the best way possible. I discovered it was better to be myself and there are people out there who will accept me for who I am, not for who they want me to be. If I hadn’t gone out to the worst bar in town that cold May night, I would never be experiencing this amazing life I have now. It is crazy to think about.

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    va-in-ny January 20, 2012, 10:27 pm

    June 18, 2008. The morning my fiance called, expressed some doubts and showed his true asshole colors. That day forever changed my life when I stopped doing what everyone expected me to do and did what I, deep down, felt was best for me. The decision not to get married led me from North Carolina to New York City to the man I have grown to love. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done!

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  • mandalee

    mandalee January 20, 2012, 11:15 pm

    I was just finishing my finals my junior year of college, broke up with my high school boyfriend who was holding me back a month earlier, and was drunk on freedom and plans to go to graduate school after graduation the following year for public relations. I was doing wine bongs (it was college lol) with my roommates and we ran down to the apartment complex hot tub and saw a few guys. I am eternally shy and always hesitate, but that night, I marched right over to them and started talking to them (probably due to the large amount of wine I drank that night). One of them turned out to be my now-husband and because of his career now taking off, I dropped out of the PR field and am able to pursue my passion of opening a day care and preschool. I couldn’t even imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t walk over to him that night, probably totally different.

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    Allison January 20, 2012, 11:50 pm

    My moment was probably the moment I accepted an internship across the country. It’s a program that places you somewhere without your input, and you either have to accept or not. I accepted and went to a small, remote town for the summer. Turns out, I really liked it and ended up living there for several years. I’ve since moved on, for various reasons, but I feel like living there really shaped who I am now. It also taught me that big cities (where I am now) are overrated, and that moment may keep influencing me in the future if I choose to relocate to a less urban area.

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    Christy January 21, 2012, 12:35 am

    Hah! I’ll tell the story of when I realized I was actually gay and the whole liking-guys thing was never going to happen. For me, it was admitting that I was never going to have a “normal” [this just means straight] life.

    So I’m walking down the road in cute Williamsburg, VA, on my way to meet the girl that I was beginning to date. I’m feeling pretty good about myself, I’m wearing my purple sundress, and I know I look good. It’s beginning to get dark. All of a sudden, I hear a car horn honking and the word “sexy” shouted. I get a little confused but keep walking.

    I see that the car that was driving by me has turned around and is pulling up next to me. The passenger rolls down his window and says “My friend thinks you’re cute, but he’s shy. Can he have your number?”

    Now, I had low self-esteem for a long, long time. Something like this had never happened to me before. I was honestly flattered. So I’m standing there, considering his offer. Because you know, why not? And all of a sudden I think to myself, “How would ____ feel if she knew I was giving my number out to some random dude on the street? That would make me feel like shit if I were her.”

    So I turn to the guys and respond “Sorry, I’m a lesbian, and I’m going to meet the girl I’m dating.” Of course, they respond with something along the lines of “That’s cool” and ask for my number again, and I say “Thanks, I’m flattered, but no thanks. But thanks for the ego boost!”

    And so they drive off and I continue to walk down the street. I’d never considered myself a lesbian before. I honestly said I was as a cop-out. And I kept thinking about it. And I realized, that all the times I’d had crushes on guys, I had made an effort to find a guy to have a crush on because that’s what I was supposed to do. And here was this girl I liked effortlessly. (Later that night I would have my first kiss, at the age of 21. Oh, to admit everything to the internet.)

    I soon realized that I was actually gay, and that if I ever wanted to be in a happy relationship with a girl, I’d have to come out of the closet. It was hard enough dating in secret, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to do it forever. And so I started coming out to my friends. Then when I got to grad school, I was completely out of the closet to my peers. By the end of grad school, I was out to my immediate family, and I just brought my girlfriend to my uncle’s house for Christmas this year.

    And if that random guy driving down the street hadn’t honked at me and asked for my number, who knows where I’d be now?

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      Christy January 21, 2012, 12:39 am

      And this was a Thursday in June, 2010.

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      Addie Pray January 21, 2012, 12:46 am

      That’s cute. I’m loving reading these memorable moments.

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      amber January 21, 2012, 1:25 pm

      great story. also i think i’ve told you this before but i really miss williamsburg. your story made me nostalgic for driving past campus on the way to berrets during the summer to eat $5 crab cake sandwiches on tuesday nights.

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        Christy January 21, 2012, 7:13 pm

        You know, I’ve never been there. My top places in Williamsburg were Nawab, Pierce’s Pit BBQ, and Cheese Shop. Oh, and the Peanut Shop, of course.

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    eggifwinter January 21, 2012, 1:12 am

    After college, I spent a year in South Korea. I met an American military guy we’ll call M. M told me he loved me. M told me he couldn’t live without me. M then convinced me to stay in South Korea (past my contract) so I can be with him and he won’t be alone. I create a contract with my school that suits his schedule. Then, the day before my three week vacation of going home (home being three weeks in the US with my parents and good friends), M calls me and tells me he can no longer see me. And has no reason why I’m not worth it to date. So, I go home and come back (AHHH, my commitment to a commitment). I then meet another guy (I fell in love with him, then he left me). But now? Now I’m a lawyer for a large metropolitan area. I loved law school. I love being a lawyer. I love my job and where I am. So goodbye to M, goodbye to his replacement… hello to a career I can control.

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    Visharoo January 21, 2012, 1:30 am

    Mine happened about four years ago. I really didn’t want to start dating anyone because I was going on a long deployment to the Middle East in less than a month. A good friend of mine and I spent the whole day packing up my apartment and putting my stuff in storage. One of my guy friends was supposed to help but he got caught up in some other stuff during the day. That night I was pretty tired and all I wanted to do was sit at home and watch a movie, but my guy friend felt so bad about not helping during the day that he insisted that he take me out that night to make up for it. He finally convinced me to go with him. It was a great night that turned into a great long distance relationship. Four years later we are married and living in Italy!

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    Man's mom January 21, 2012, 9:47 am

    My a-ha moment was the moment my son was born. He has a birth defect that after these last 18 years of surgeries, will at last be corrected. It made me realize that I am much stronger than I thought.

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  • Chaotonic

    Chaotonic January 21, 2012, 11:00 am

    Back in October of 2005 I came home from school and was told by my step father that a recruiter had called for me. Without even second guessing myself I called the recruiting station back and immediately signed up for the Navy. I haven’t looked back since.

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  • Jess

    jess of citygirlsworld.com January 21, 2012, 11:11 am

    Great thread. Easy one for me!

    August 2006, I was playing with my necklace and discovered a hard, pointy lump sticking out of my neck.

    Weeks later, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was living abroad and consequently failed my medical clearance. So I lost my job. Then my boyfriend of 2 years (we’d just begun discussing/planning marriage) told me, “I’m not sure if I love you enough to do this.” I lost my health, my hair, my job, my income, my health, my privacy, my sense of security, and my relationship in the span of a month.

    After my life burned to the ground, I moved back to the US and rebuilt my life from the ground up. Grew my hair back, got a great job, bought my own house, started a fun blog, and eventually met a wonderful man who now shares my home with our 3 pets.

    Because of that lump, everything changed. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was also the best thing that ever happened to me because everything has made so much more sense since cancer. What’s real. What’s important. What matters. My life is far better than it ever would have been.

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      Addie Pray January 21, 2012, 11:22 am

      Wow – I am glad you are doing so well, jess!

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      • Jess

        jess of citygirlsworld.com January 21, 2012, 11:35 am

        Thanks Addie. Nice of you to say.

        I am indeed doing very well! I feel like I was lucky to figure out some big life lessons early because of cancer. And I am happier as a result 🙂

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      *HmC* January 21, 2012, 2:37 pm

      It’s funny how human nature works. Loss and pain are so transformative, yet it seems entirely wrong to wish those things upon oneself or others. It does seem to be true though, that people who survive life threatening illnesses or situations, or who suffer a great loss, more times than not end up better for it on the other side.

      I went through a devastating break up of an 8 year relationship with a wonderful person (and I’m NOT directly comparing that loss with getting cancer, or losing a loved one to death). But looking back it’s sometimes hard to believe how naive and different my views on life were prior to experiencing the pain I’ve felt in recent years, due to the break up and also other losses.

      Not to get too new age-y, but if you read The Power of Now or other such literature about mindfulness and the nature of happiness, it seems a universal truth that suffering leads to a better understanding of what truly constitutes human happiness. It clarifies what matters and what doesn’t. But it’s sad that that’s what it takes, in a way.

      Just my rambling thoughts. Very glad you’ve come out ok on the other side, Jess.

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    honeybeenicki January 21, 2012, 11:34 am

    My “moment” was when I went with my mom to see a band. I had seen them many, many times but this night I was talking to the drummer between sets and he kept telling me I shouldn’t wear a hat all the time (I had a baseball cap I wore EVERYWHERE) because then no one could see my beautiful eyes. That night, he took my hat and told me he’d be the man to change my life. In order to get it back, I had to meet up with him the next weekend and have dinner. I did get my hat back that next weekend, but now its six years later and I still don’t wear it anymore and I’m married to that man. He always reminds me that he told me that he’d be the man to change my life and I didn’t believe him. I remind him that was the only time I’ve ever been wrong 😉

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      Painted_lady January 21, 2012, 12:39 pm

      Love this! He sounds like a great guy!

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        honeybeenicki January 22, 2012, 9:54 pm

        He can be 🙂 He says he likes this story better than when I tell people he’s a one night stand that just never left. When he and I started seeing each other, I was just out of a long and emotionally exhausting relationship so I wasn’t looking for anything more than a little fun. He also made me break my two steadfast (or so I thought) dating rules: No musicians (he’s a drummer) and no one with kids (he has two awesome, amazing, wonderful kids that I love like my own).

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    Daisy January 21, 2012, 1:15 pm

    My moment was during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, which I spent on a study program in Israel. At some point during that summer I just fell in love with the country and the culture and the food and the Hebrew language and knew that I wanted to spend more time there. I doubt that at 17 I really comprehended leaving my family and moving to the other side of the world, but the seeds had been planted. It took about 4 years for me to get back to Israel and then a bunch of trips back and forth to decide it was really what I wanted, but I’ve been officially living here now for almost 5.5 years, and it’s all thanks to that summer study program!

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    phoenix28 January 21, 2012, 1:38 pm

    My aha moment was last year around this time when I found myself begging another person yet again to “make me a priority/the exception” when I had never put myself first to start with. It was the last straw that finally forced me to take a long hard look at my life and finally deal with some deep seated self-esteem issues. The moment I put me first, EVERYTHING changed and now I’m living a life more amazing than I could have ever dreamed, simply because I put myself first and treated myself better 🙂

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    AnotherWendy January 21, 2012, 3:18 pm

    I was married for 20 years and had a 6 year old. The last 10 years had been not horrible but a steady realization that we were not compatible for sharing a life together. I told myself I couldn’t hurt him, he was decent guy who would never break a commitment so I needed to work through it. I was at the point of realizing I couldn’t even be the mom I wanted to be without it causing conflict with him. I woke up one morning and the voice in my head said “you don’t owe him your life.” And I went to a bookstore that day and read a dozen books on how to best raise a child after divorce. It took a few months to break things off finally, and there were some painful months that followed. But9 years later we are friends who actively co-parent our daughter. I’m living true to me now and my daughter always wonders how two such different people actually stayed married so long! We all spend holidays together with both our partners and their children. My daughter has a huge family now! That voice in my head that morning changed my life.

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    Bethany January 21, 2012, 5:17 pm

    2.28.00 is the day that changed everything in my life. Had that day never happened, I have no idea who or where I’d be today. It was a horrible, awful day, but looking back 12 years later, one I am grateful for.

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      ForeverYoung January 21, 2012, 8:25 pm

      Ah you can’t leave us hanging like that. What happened and how did it change you/your life?

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        Addie Pray January 22, 2012, 9:05 am

        Agreed!

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    Painted_lady January 21, 2012, 8:19 pm

    Getting my heart horribly broken – December 17, 2009 – changed everything for me. I didn’t even like the guy that much – he was a vegan and a hypochondriac and paranoid at that, so he was always marking restaurants off of the tiny list of places he could go because the food had upset his stomach which meant that they weren’t really vegan, plus he had about four other things that he was interested in (Dave Matthews Band, environmentalism, keeping off the information grid, and pot). That was sort of the point initially, though – for one thing, if you date someone you aren’t that into, if it doesn’t work out you’re less hurt, and also, if the person is objectively less attractive, physically and otherwise, then you run a far lower risk of getting dumped, right? Nope. At that point my life was crappy enough and my self-esteem was low enough that I got sucked into this power struggle of thinking he would bend a little to accommodate me. If I stayed enough nights at his place and woke up at 6:00 to get home and let the dog out and shower before work while he slept in till 10, he would compromise and sleep a night or two at my place, I thought. Except in his view, he wanted to sleep in his own bed (and I didn’t?!) and liked being able to walk from his bed to his flaxseed and soymilk (and I enjoyed going without coffee and yogurt, evidently). So I was out of luck. And I was frustrated, and I was unhappy with my life, and while my boyfriend was completely selfish and inconsiderate, it felt at the time like it was better than sitting home alone. And then the self-centered, not-all-that-interesting guy who was unattractive and rarely noticed if he hurt me, much less cared, dumped ME. I got dumped by my better-than-nothing boyfriend. And then I had nothing, it seemed. Which meant I had nothing to lose. I hated my job, so I quit it, and took a job stage managing a show that was an hour’s drive away, but a production that I’d always wanted to work on. And I started applying everywhere to substitute teach, and that show forged a connection that got me an interview which led to a job as an aide in the fine arts department of the school that later hired me for my first full-time teaching job. While I was working as an aide, though, I was called to interview for a job in my hometown, and I called my best friend from high school to see if I could crash with him. And we spent the evening talking and drinking wine and I realized I was inexplicably attracted to him. But I was still healing from my broken heart from a few months previously, and he still hadn’t gotten his shit together. In our conversation, though, I told him how getting dumped had taken the last decent thing that felt like mine away, and it had forced me to take action in my own life to make sure I would never be so miserable as to settle for such an obnoxious guy ever again. And he called me a couple of weeks later to tell me he was going back to school to get another degree because he wanted to own his life the same way. I spent the next few months letting myself heal a little more – getting dumped by someone who didn’t deserve you in the first place leaves some scars – but then I finally called him up on the first three-day weekend I had as a teacher and that he had as a returning student and told him I was in love with him…and that moment my heart was broken changed everything. Now when things are broken in my life, I know it’s my own responsibility to fix them. I won’t ever allow myself to be complacent toward my own misery again.

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    jaybro January 21, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Part of me thinks I haven’t had my real big “moment” yet, but the first thing that comes to mind is a moment of sorts. December 2010, right before my winter break. Long story short, I found out that the ex-who-I-was-trying-to-be-friends-with-but-was-still-totally-pining-after and one of my really good friends (all three of us were in the same friend group) were sleeping with each other and lying to me about it. All my other friends knew. So I ended up finding out and never spoke to either of them again. I learned what a real friend is, and I learned that I was braver than I knew. If it hadn’t happened, I would probably still be friends with that whole group of people, stuck in the not-being-able-to-get-over-him phase, and not know that underneath the shy girl who let people walk all over her was a woman who can stand up for herself and remove shitty people from her life.

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      pho_sho January 21, 2012, 9:58 pm

      I am amazed by the type of female “friends” who are so quick to pull that kind of crap. I was similarly betrayed by a friend, and instead of owning up to it, she pretended we weren’t friends in the first place, which in her mind meant that she didn’t actually do anything wrong. She’s never tried to apologize to me, and she even tried to make small talk with me once, as if nothing had happened. People like that disgust me with their weakness and cowardice.

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        vizslalvr January 22, 2012, 10:16 pm

        I don’t think it’s a female “friend” thing … it’s a shitty “friend” thing and I’ve seen both men and women do it.

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  • Firegirl32

    Firegirl32 January 21, 2012, 9:45 pm

    My moment was August 22, 2007. My brother almost died in a car accident. It was two days before my 30th birthday. That day, sitting in the hospital, holding my brothers ear as the Dr. sewed it back on, and listening to him repeat the same, “Where am I? What happened?” over and over again, for hours on end, I realized I was too young to live such a loveless, miserable life. When I got to the hospital my sister-in-law asked me where my husband was. I told her that I told him to go to work, they’d only let family in anyway. At that point I realized that I didn’t even consider him family anymore. We got married after college – because it was what was expected next. Not because it was what was right. Long story short, after months of sleeping on the couch and crying every night, I moved my son and I back home and got a divorce. I think it’s the best thing that happened to the ex and myself. He finally got help. Afterwards, after I left he finally saw a therapist and was medicated for paranoid schizophrenia. I asked him for years to see someone. He wouldn’t. Today, we co-parent well. Our son is amazing. And I am seeing someone. I would have never met Jon if I didn’t come back home. Work weekends at my mom’s store to make ends meet. My son and I have an amazing life today because my brother almost died. That’s a hard moment to not think about often.

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  • Cara

    Cara January 21, 2012, 9:58 pm

    January 2009. Up until that moment I had everything – a great job in another country coming up, a very promising guy, a group of friends I loved and saw every day. Then I got the call that my father had a stroke. The guy left me. I couldn´t move to another country, but had to come back home. I had to leave my friends behind.

    In that time I began leaning more and more on one guy of that group of friends, eventually ending up with him. We stayed together for 2 years (long-distance) and he was there for me when my father eventually died after 9 months in the hospital, stayed with me when my mother commited suicide 8 months after that and encouraged me to go to college. He was a shy guy, not my type and if I hadn´t been so vulnerable back then, I don´t think we would´ve been together.
    I owe him my life.

    We broke up in summer, but are still friendly. I am now in college (something I never thought I would do), have found great friends and know myself so much better. I don´t waste my time with the wrong people. I do what I want to do.
    And although the journey from that moment on was horrible for a large part, it also gave me hope, because even though I was in so much pain, I still had beauty in my life. It gave me strength, I know I can overcome most anything.
    If nothing of that had happened I wouldn´t be me now.

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  • avatar

    Poicelle January 22, 2012, 12:08 am

    I always lurk but this thread has inspired me to share my own a-ha moment:

    It was November of 2008 and I was on line waiting to get to the ticket machine at my hometown’s train station to get a round-trip ticket to NYC to meet with my master’s thesis advisor. It was FREEZING (I remember, because I was wearing my big winter puffer coat) and it was raining so my hands were really cold. I was about third in line when I realized that the guy at the ticket machine was a boy I went to high school with 5+ years earlier. He was a boy that had always seemed into me, but throughout high school I thought it was annoying the way he seemed to follow me around. I remember looking at the ground and hoping he wouldn’t notice me. As I got to the front of the line he turned around and saw me (much to my frustration) and proceeded to help me use the ticket machine – it was touch screen and my hands were so cold and wet that it wasn’t working properly. I thanked him and intended to go about my business but he kept talking to me. We got in the same train car, sat down, and ended up talking the entire 1 1/2 hour long trip into NYC.

    We officially started dating less than two months later. At the time I was planning on going to law school (once I graduated with my master’s) and had applied to a bunch of schools in the south. He mentioned to me one night that he always thought he wanted to live in Georgia. That night, after our date, I applied to law school in Georgia.

    It’s been over 3 years since we first (re-)met, we’ve been living together in Georgia since I started law school in 2009, we recently adopted a dog, and we just got engaged this past November! Running into him again after so many years, and giving him a chance for a quick conversation, completely changed my life. I am so lucky to have him; I love him so much for all of the experiences I’ve gotten to have just for having met him.

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      Addie Pray January 22, 2012, 9:04 am

      Aww, I love this story! This is one of my favorite weekend threads.

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  • MELH

    MELH January 22, 2012, 12:12 am

    My moment was back in 2006. I had met my now husband but I didn’t want anything serious. We were hanging out one night, and one of his friends want out of his way to call me his “lady friend” or something like that since he had told them we weren’t actually dating. I had been a bit promiscuous to that point in college, and i thout i just wanted my freedom. But I realized that moment that I was being an idiot. I realized I was trying to keep him as not my boyfriend because I was afraid of getting burned, not because I wanted to be free and have fun. So that night, I told my now husband I wanted to be in a relationship. I waited til midnight to make it official though, since it was the 13th and I didn’t want or anniversary to end up on a Friday the 13th someday. Four and a half years later, he proposed and this August we got married. I’m sitting here right now watching him play angry birds on his iPad and I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

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    • MELH

      MELH January 22, 2012, 12:13 am

      Ugh stupid iPad typos! (and maybe the few drinks I’ve had)

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      • MELH

        MELH January 23, 2012, 9:39 am

        Also, because I was dating my now husband my senior year in college, I took a business law course to take up time in my schedule (I really did not want to graduate early), and help out my husband, who was required to take it. I ended up loving it and the teacher helped me decide that law school would be a good path for someone who loves to read and write but was questioning journalism as a path. Now today I’m not quite as confident in my law school attendance decision as I’m still unemployed, but hopefully my next big moment will be accepting a job!

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    Daisy January 22, 2012, 2:12 am

    So many amazing stories! I’m going to bookmark this page to look at whenever I worry that things will never change or get better. The next new phase is just around the corner!

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      lets_be_honest January 23, 2012, 1:54 pm

      Great idea. My moment also was a drastic, terrifying one that in the end was the best thing that ever happened to me, but I’m still scared to death of change. Maybe this will help.

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    MovingAgain January 22, 2012, 2:26 am

    My A-ha moment was yesterday, the day my ex told me his orders across the country were cancelled. I’ve given my 30 day notice on my really cute cottage, cancelled my internets, and given my notice to my job. I realized that this is my life and I needed to take control of it. So, in the last 24 hours, I’ve laughed harder than I have in years, got in touch with friends I’ve said good bye to since I was leaving, and just felt really positive. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m going to greet it head on and with a positive mind, here’s to 2012 and a great year…got a new tattoo today too 🙂

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    AliceInDairyLand January 22, 2012, 10:58 am

    Spring of 2009 was really a turning point in my life, thus far, but I do believe I will have at least one more aha moment before my life is over (I am only 21 after all!). I was a freshman in college and 2 things really changed the way I see the world. One, I started milking cows at the veterinary school’s dairy farm. This taught me the value of hard, physically demanding work, but also let me absolutely fall in love with cows, and appreciate just how wonderful they are and how interesting their upkeep is.

    Second, I took an environmental studies class under one of the most interesting/kooky/amazing professors I have ever met. He went through various aspects of environmental issues, and livestock production/where our food comes from really struck a cord with me. How could I, as a future veterinarian, have been so blind to the way animals are treated and about the food on my plate? I went in and talked to this professor many times throughout the semester and he really did alter my life.

    I finally broke up with my completely unmotivated boyfriend who didn’t share any of my values, after a long “jet lag” of onagainoffagain. I ended up switching my degree from Biology to Dairy Science in order to learn as much as I could about how livestock is being raised in this country. My professor suggested wwoofing to me and I ended up spending a summer milking sheep and goats by hand in the middle of nowhere Northern Italy. I met my current boyfriend who also cares about sustainable agriculture as an organic vegetable farmer, and I am planning on raising grass-fed meat goats on his farm this spring/summer. Finally, I did actually achieve my life goal of getting into veterinary school but I have completely different plans about what I want to do with my DVM once I am finally out of school.

    So. One class. One set of 60 dairy cows. They really changed my life.

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      amber January 22, 2012, 4:27 pm

      congrats on vet school! hope you have fun with your cows 🙂 i took a trip to guelph, canada once and took a tour of the live stock portion of the school at the university of guelph. it was pretty awesome!

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        AliceInDairyLand January 22, 2012, 10:45 pm

        Ahhh, I have always wanted to go to Canada. And being a Wisco girl, it is so ridiculously close I really have no excuse. I hear they have really great agriculture schools and so I am glad to hear it. Also I have to cheer anytime ANYONE does anything involving livestock. So many people are so disconnected from these amazing animals that end up on their plates every day!

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  • LadyinPurpleNotRed

    LadyinPurpleNotRed January 22, 2012, 11:56 am

    My ah-ha moment was December of 2008. I had a kidney infection and I was actually grateful and thankful for it because it meant I was in the hospital and didn’t have to see my boyfriend. I wanted to break up with him in August before I went to college almost 1000 miles away, but my friends and family absolutely LOVED him so I didn’t want to disappoint them. I realized that if I would rather be in massive amounts of pain than see him, I really should break up with him. Since then I’ve started listening to myself more often (not all the time…still working on that!) and it has made things so much better.

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    Kerrycontrary January 22, 2012, 9:02 pm

    I would say my moment was when I got into the college of my choice, not Harvard or anything, just my home state’s large land-grant university. It sounds silly, but college, and that school specifically, changed me. Because it was (and still is) one of the largest state schools in the US, I had to be able to talk to anyone at anytime. Within a couple of months I came out of my shell and was a 100 percent more confident and more comfortable with who I was. Away from my hometown and any reputation or expectations that were associated with me, I was able to be the person I always was and always wanted to be. I excelled in my classes, had a blooming social life, and finally met all the men that miraculously escaped me in high school. I fell in love, got my heart broken, found my future career, lived with my best friends, and got my heart broken a couple of more times. Those 4 years formed who I was more so than any other period of my life. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from college. While I did meet my now significant other there (and that’s another moment in time to describe…), I know that the most important part of me was formed by attending the school I did. I don’t know who or where I would be if I had gone somewhere else. It sounds corny to associate such fondness with a large institution, but it’s where my heart will always lie and I know that the 40,000 students on campus there right this moment will feel the same way once they graduate.

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    Leanne January 22, 2012, 9:42 pm

    April 26 1999. Me: finishing up my 2nd semester sophomore year in college at San Francisco State. Major: undecided. Boyfriend: an older guy I knew made a better friend than boyfriend, but did not know how to break the news to him. Living situation: somehow had scored a 3 bedroom near school and shared it with 3 other girls. Outlook: loving San Francisco and having always lived in California, assumed I would finish college and stay there forever.

    April 26 1999. One of my roommates lights a candle when someone visiting our apartment farts. They leave the apartment. I drive up my street 2 hours later, and I am following a fire truck. I say out loud “fuck I hope that’s not my house.” And then “fuck, that is my house,” when I see it stop in front of my home. I watch firemen shatter my front bay window and begin throwing things out of it as they fight the fire. Couch. TV. Bookshelf.

    May 10 1999. I go straight from my last final exam to the hospital because I have gotten pneumonia from the stress and soot inhalation as I try to recover most of my belongings from the rubble. I stay there for 3 days and drive myself and what is left of my life home from college. I am forever physically ill at the thought of going back to San Francisco.

    Now: I live in Chicago, a city I would never have even imagined I would live. I got the idea when I was finishing college in Fullerton CA, another city I never imagined I would live in. I met my husband, a man from New England, who I never would have met unless I left California. I fell in love with Chicago, and spent the last 7 years here. It is the most magical place. And I would have never even dreamed of leaving California, had it not been for that series of unfortunate events. While devastating to my 19-year-old self, they were a blessing to my 32-year-old self, who has never felt happier than I am at this very moment.

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    *HmC* January 22, 2012, 11:13 pm

    The super early morning of August 16, 1999, just past midnight. I was 18. I had been up all night laying on the floor of my guy friend’s bedroom, talking for hours. We’d just graduated high school. I’d known who he was since middle school, but never really bonded with him until my senior year of high school. We joked around for months, but I kind of thought he disliked me so I kept my distance and kept things sarcastic all the time. I had no idea who I was or how love or relationships worked- I genuinely believed we didn’t like each other in “that way.”

    We joked our way through English class, I even got him a job at the fast food restaurant where I worked, and we needled each other constantly. Everyone around us could see what I was genuinely oblivious to. I was so young, so naive.

    That night, August 16th, he finally came clean with his feelings and asked me to be his girlfriend. Like, “go out out” with him. I remember feeling like time was slowing down, the freckles on his face, as feelings flooded up inside of me and I realized how much I cared about him and how obvious it had been all along.

    We were together and deeply in love for 8 years. He was an amazing person that taught me what it was to truly love someone else and what it meant to be in a healthy, happy relationship. Prior to him, I had been spiraling downwards in my life. He was my knight in shining armor.

    Since life isn’t like a Disney movie, we did break up. And our break up taught me as much if not more than being with him did. I learned that no matter how good a person is, they can’t rescue you from yourself, not forever anyway. I wasn’t as healthy as I should have been before I met him, and I changed so much from 18 – 26 that our relationship didn’t make sense anymore. After I broke up with him, I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

    After being single for over 3 years, I did end up in another great relationship. But he doesn’t complete me, and he didn’t have to save me. We lean on each other. And my ex is in what seems like a good relationship too. I don’t really know, we don’t talk and probably never will again.

    I’ve learned to let go. I’ve learned that not everyone who touches your life, however deeply, is meant to be in it forever. And I learned that timing is just as vital of an element to a successful relationship as personality compatibility.

    I still miss his friendship. But I’m learning to accept that. I’m so grateful for everything our relationship and break up taught me. And I feel so lucky.

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    unwrittenvitta January 23, 2012, 8:48 am

    There are two of them

    1.- January 2005
    I met a guy online who I thought was completely charming and who i felt really sorry for, he was a victim of life and I was a naive girl that couldnt see through people yet. I dont regret how much I did for that relationship because I learned how badass I can be when it has to do with love, however, thats how the next 5 years of abuse and pain started.

    2.- September 21-ish
    My body showed me how wrong that relationship was, I felt sick like never before and for the first time I realized how much he was hurting me. It was like I was out of my body and a stronger woman had taken over the ship o_o I dont know how i pulled it off but I managed to walk out of that abusive SOB forever. That one painful relationship helped me grow up but last year, after therapy and the support of people who truly love me, I can proudly say: I am woman hear me roar 😀 haha

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      lets_be_honest January 23, 2012, 1:57 pm

      Part one made me want to cry for someone very close to me who seems to be in a similar situation. “he was a victim of life and I was a naive girl” so sad.

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    Anna January 23, 2012, 4:40 pm

    I would say my “moment” was in spring of 2002 when I was a senior in high school and applying to college. Some of my closest friends at the time were Canadian, and I really wanted to go to college in Toronto and get away from home. My parents didn’t want me to leave and were trying to convince me to go to the local branch of Kent State and live at home for a couple more years. They basically financially roadblocked me, saying if I went to Kent they would pay for it but if I left home I was on my own. I decided to go to Kent for financial reasons, and ended up getting a job at a nearby Domino’s as a delivery driver after school and on weekends. That job was where I met my boyfriend, and now we’ve been together for 8 1/2 yrs. I still don’t know if it will be forever as I hope, but I know if I had not met him my life would have been completely different.

    I should also add here that my parents are sad ass liars…their support came only after I took out the maximum amount of student loans possible, and they completely cut me off 3 semesters in, leaving me with about half a college degree and a major predicament. Quit or go into a shitload of debt to finish? I chose the shitload of debt, and graduated in 2009 with my BA. It took almost twice as long as planned because I could only get enough financial aid to go part time and had to work full time…and I had to go into debt over $40,000. I still haven’t found a good job in my area.

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