Stream of Conciousness Leading to Turning Points

This past Friday, after going to the gym with my family, we went to our new favorite fast food restaurant – Raising Cane’s Chicken.  On top of the good eats, the atmosphere for this fast food restaurant is fun, too.  They have all kinds of posters and pictures with local flair or famous ones from the last forty years. In our booth that evening, we looked up to see the famous poster of the actors in costume from the movie The Breakfast Club.

The next day, as I drove out to Belle Chasse for drill with the Air National Guard, I thought about the poster.  The Breakfast Club is a movie of which anyone close to my age is well aware.  Why was it so successful?  First, I think it was because, at the time, most of us had experienced the inanity of some aspects of high school life like “detention.” (Did that ever change any of us?)  Second, I think it also worked because most of us either were or knew the characters from our own experiences (the princess, the criminal, the jock, the basket case, and the brain).  Third, I think it worked because it was simply well-acted and well-written.

But thinking of the movie also made me ponder how crazy it is how much judgment is passed upon us when we are are in high school (by administrators, teachers and by students).  Discernment on where people are at that stage is surely appropriate, but who will they will become is far from sure. You would have come close to discerning what only a few people in my high school class would be doing today from knowing them when they graduated from high school. Some people have not solidified on who they are or who they will become by 17 or 18 years of age.

So that made me ask myself, when then was it that those major turning points came in my life? What decisions did I make that made me end up where I am today?  I came up with about ten, and I plan to share them now and again on this blog.  I hope by doing this we can all reflect on our turning points and hopefully be more ready when future ones come along.

I think the first major turning point in my life came when I was about 22.  I had been in college for about two years with little to show for it.  I had tried a variety of majors and was on academic probation.  C’s and D’s weren’t going to cut it in college, and if I didn’t come in with at least a C average in the fall of 1983, I was out of school.  It was at that point that I buckled down, decided studying was my purpose for being at Louisiana Tech, and for the first time, pulled in a 3.5 average.  From there, I gained more and more confidence and completed three years of academic work in two years.  Then I was accepted into graduate school at UNO and signed up with the AFROTC.  All of those experiences shaped me greatly. But it all started with finally deciding that I could do it academically and buckling down and putting first things first.

Other than my parents and friends, few people in the academic arena had shown any confidence in me.  I wonder sometimes if I had turned around earlier what other opportunities might have opened up for me.  But my lack of production was no one’s fault but my own, and if I had gotten on track earlier, I might not be here today, a place where I am quite content.

Successes and failures help define us.  But I hope I have had enough failures for now. I’d rather learn from the successes.

What would you consider your first major turning point as an adult?

Which decisions helped you get where you are today?

How can we help others make better decisions?

How could/should our faith speak to us (something I was not very focused on back in those days)?

Just some food for thought as I ponder on my vacation.

All the best and until next time,

Tom

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3 thoughts on “Stream of Conciousness Leading to Turning Points

  1. It’s hard to pick the first turning point in my adult life, but one comes to mind: I was a sophomore in college, and broke up with the young man I was dating because I recognized that this relationship was not going anywhere. I then prayed, “Lord, I’m tired of playing around. Would you please send the man of your choosing.” I wasn’t all that deeply spiritual then, but that’s what I prayed.

    A very short time later, I went out on a fixed-up date, and as I watched him return to his dorm, I heard in my mind, “This is the one I have chosen for you.” That was 50 years ago, and I can’t thank God enough for the wonderful man I married.

    Elaine Soerens, Gatesville, Texas

  2. Tom, great post. Your posts remind me a little of how Rev Run (MTV “Run’s House”) ends his show each week.

    Keep them coming,

    Lisa

  3. Hi Tom – with 25 years in vocational guidance/career counselling I so agree what what you say.

    Too many young people are categorised at too early a stage. They are not given the confidence or understanding that different lives move and change at different paces and that does not sit well with a ‘conveyor belt’ education system when young people are often making decisions – college/major study etc at at stage when they are not ready. Only when they see the relevance (as in your own example above) does it turn around. For many, they don’t think they can change – they have been labelled for life.
    We need to have a different view of progress that we can teach our children – failure is only failure when you don’t learn from it. Failing (or nearly failing) can teach us so much more than easy success. But we hold up success as the prize every time. There is no permission to fail; to teach that we can learn from our failures and turn around.

    But I learn so much from my mistakes, I think I’ll make another one!

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