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Why Not?

Contributor ,

ike most individuals on this planet, I have spent a good deal of time fantasizing about the life I would have if only I could choose.

I would be more confident. I would be more adventurous. I would get more education and get a better paying job. I would choose satisfying and complimentary relationships. I would feel like I had a valid place in this world.

As much time as I spent fantasizing, however, I probably spent even more time wallowing in the misery of my real life and making excuses about why I couldn't accomplish these things. I began to assume that every day would be the same as the last. I even started to believe that dreams were for kids and for irresponsible people that intended to bounce from one failure to the next.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. At the time, I was a housewife raising three small children. Though I have the amazing ability to stretch a dime into a dollar, money was always extremely tight. My life centered around taking care of my children and finding ways to stretch the budget just to pay for the necessities of life.

I really loved being with my kids. I felt it was an important job and was willing to sacrifice to do what I felt was the right thing for my kids. But I had a good number of aspirations that didn't involve cleaning up messes, rereading stories for the hundredth time, or playing with bugs in the park. I wanted to be able to pay the bills each month. I wanted to become more confident and able to be part of an adult world. I wanted the freedom and ability to drive my children to various places. I wanted to see and learn a little bit about the world. I wanted to go to university and get my archaeology degree. In short, I wanted to be Tami, the person, and not just Mommy or Mrs. Brady.

For several years, I stewed about my quandary. I had always said I was going to go to university but frankly no one believed I actually would. The most vocal members of my family questioned why I would even want to go to university, especially to take archaeology. Archaeology was a job for single men. The only mothers who would dare train for such a job were simply trying to run away from their responsibilities. I had no intention of abandoning my family and so I eventually decided to give up on my dream.

My brother came to visit one day. We were both venting about our lives and talking about our bleak futures. I told him that I had finally given up on my hope of becoming an archaeologist. He asked me why I had to give up on this dream. I remember him saying "why not". Rather irritated at my single brother's grasp of the seemingly obvious, I explained the situation to him: my responsibilities, my lack of finances, my confidence issues, my lack of an adventurous nature, etc.

Over the next few weeks, for some reason, I just kept replaying that conversation in my head. I kept hearing "why not". Yes, I could list a whole book of reasons why I couldn't become an archaeologist. Strangely, however, these reasons seemed more like excuses.

I started wondering what I would tell my children if they were in my place. Surely, I wouldn't tell them to settle and be miserable. I started questioning why I was so willing to run away from a challenge. Finally, I realized that if I didn't at least try to reach my goals, I was going to regret my decision for the rest of my life.

Within six months of that epiphany, I started taking university classes. I researched and found student funding. I volunteered and then got a part time job at the local museum on weekends so that my husband could watch the kids while I was working. I practiced my driving skills and learned how to take public transit. I pushed myself to interact with other students and resisted my natural urge to run away from the large crowded campus. I scheduled my classes around my children's school schedule, even taking a few late night classes, so that my children would not require daycare and would never come home to an empty house.

Seven years later, I had earned an undergraduate honours degree in Archaeology and graduate degrees in Archaeology and Heritage, awarded with distinction. I now run my own archaeological consulting company out of my basement. This allows me the freedom to choose my projects so that I don't have to stay away from my family for long periods of time. It also allows me the option to take on non-archaeological projects such as the writing of this book without the loss of income associated with working part time. Moreover, I found that as I reached towards my goals (sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing in my attempts) that in moving through or around these obstacles and challenges, I became happier in my life and more confident that I could achieve other ambitions that I had. My husband says I also became a lot nicer to be around.

In this way, the phrase "why not" changed my life. Perhaps, you too can change your life simply by asking yourself "why not".

Tami Brady.

Tami Brady is author of The Complete Being: Finding and Loving the Real You and Regaining Control: When Loves Becomes a Prison. She has also penned two books of poetry: Blame and Judgment and From Lost to Found. Her website can be found at http://www.tami-brady.com


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Tami Brady Website
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