Two high school girls came into my last period class on Friday to talk with my 8th graders about the decisions they would soon be facing about their high school classes and clubs. One of my students bravely said to me in front of a small group, “I’m nervous. I mean these are the first decisions that I am going to make that will impact the rest of my life. I’m going to look back on this as a turning point.” The others nodded in agreement.
And in many ways, she’s right. At 14, most of the major decisions impacting her life have been carried out by her parents. Over the next few years, her parents will have less influence on her life and she will begin to take the reins and the responsibility. And it’s a big responsibility.
At 14, she probably still believes that life is linear, that one decision once set in motion, will inevitably lead to the next logical step. She may not yet have learned that life has a way of inserting itself (sometimes rudely) into our plans. And that often those turning points sneak up on us when we’re busy blindly carrying out our life blueprint.
Those critical and conscious decisions we make certainly influence our lives: school, marriage, career, children. But the way that we respond to the setbacks and challenges often carries even more weight. Turning points are not only found in major course corrections; they live in how you approach every moment.
And as long as you keep learning and growing, no turning point is ever wasted.