My senior year in high school was busy. I worked a full-time job and went to school full time. I had responsibilities at home and I didn’t feel young. I was already tired. Life was busy.

I was also waiting to see if I got into the college that I wanted to and I kept it a secret that I had even applied. I wanted to go there so badly because in my head, it was a way out. I had thought that just getting accepted would make all the right things happen and I would have the outcome I so badly wanted.

While everyone around me was making plans and freely talking about their goals, I kept mine locked away. I was too scared to say them out loud. At some point though, I put all my little eggs of future happiness in that one basket.

That letter came and I remember the surprise on my mom’s face when she handed it over, even she didn’t know that I applied there. It was with complete excitement that I opened that letter and read the words that I thought would change my life. I was accepted.

I stood there in complete shock. I remember looking around surprised that the world didn’t stop, the little sister that was jumping on her bed, the sounds of my mom cooking and singing to the radio, the mower outside where little brother was doing chores. They kept going and I was shocked — this was such a big deal, and yet, it didn’t stop the clocks.

I sat on that letter and it was around the dinner table that night that while everyone was digging in, I made my proud announcement. It hung out there over the table as forks and plates clanked.

My dad didn’t speak directly to me often so I knew it was something important when he looked up and caught my eye and said, “you can’t afford to go there, not going to happen.”

That was it. I sat there and tried to eat as the walls closed in around me. I wasn’t going to be able to go, even though I was accepted. I don’t remember getting through the rest of the evening, but I must have cleared the table, did the dishes and then climbed into bed.

I laid there and tried to keep my cries muffled as reality set in. I thought it was just as simple as being accepted. I thought that all my dreams would come true just because I crossed that hurtle. It was right in front of me and I didn’t see it.

How did all go so wrong when it was supposed to go so right? I did my part, I got in and yet it didn’t make everything all better. It didn’t swing things my way. I hurt and I railed at myself but I just wasn’t worldly enough to understand that life was more complicated than that.

I was raised to obey and to let others make decisions for me because they knew better. They had my best in mind, right? I was expected to do what I was told, and I did. I listened to everyone and did exactly as I was instructed, even when I felt like I was dying inside.

That night was the last time I thought about that school. Because I was told that it was not possible. I didn’t know that I could take steps to make my dream possible. I didn’t know that there were scholarships, grants, loans and people out there who could help me to achieve my independence. Back then I didn’t have the courage to buck the system, to realize that I could make big choices on my own.

I went down the path I was meant to. I made a lot of mistakes early on and it was through those mistakes that I gained the courage to do it my way. I stand here over 20 plus years later and I know that I’m exactly where God intended me to be, and that gives me the strength to forgive that girl I was that just didn’t know much at all.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.