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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ogg

When your path doesn't take you where you thought you were going.

If I have learned anything over the past few years, it’s that life will surprise you and change course when you least expect it, but also when you need it most.

I have a quote tattooed on my ribs, and it reads, “there is no set path; always follow your heart.” I was 19 when I had it permanently inked on me. I didn’t know then how much that quote would resonate with me in the future.

I got married when I was 23 and at the age of 27 I realized that my current path was not leading me in a direction that I wanted to go anymore and I needed to follow my heart, no matter how hard it was or who it would hurt. And boy, did it hurt. I hurt myself, I hurt my husband, I hurt my family, and I hurt my friends. We were hurting because I decided that I didn’t want to be with my husband anymore. I ended our relationship, our marriage and broke up the family that we had built together with our cat, Mittens.

As hard as this breakup was for us, our families and our friends, this was the best thing that happened for both of us. We were both scared to take on life by ourselves. And while it took some time for my ex-husband to see this, we have both grown into much better people than we were when we were together. Being apart caused us to work on growing our independence, focusing on our mental health, and growing our friendship.

Yes, I said friendship. More about that. He and I decided very early in our separation that no matter what, we would remain friends. I don’t think either of us knew exactly how that would go, but we promised that to each other. We were together just shy of 8 years. We experienced a lot of happiness, a lot of sadness, growth, loss, living together, living apart, and a lot of other changes. And although we couldn’t make our marriage work, we were not willing to lose each other in our lives. So many times couples breakup, separate, or divorce and they become strangers, act like they never knew each other, and more times than not, hate each other. But that’s not how I roll and that's not how he rolls. And though many people think it’s weird that we are friends (and yes, it is purely that), we decided to break generational norms and grow our friendship, have love for each other, and continue to be in each other’s lives.

Now I understand that every breakup, separation or divorce is not the same and sometimes, even as hard as you try, you CANNOT be civil with the other person. To each their own, in their own situations. I am not here to judge. I will admit that we were not always this way. It was hard to navigate at first, but in the end, we decided to do what we had failed at before we separated, and that was to communicate, put ourselves first and our friendship second.

So to that I will say, no matter the hurt that will be caused, the pain that will be felt, “there is no set path; always follow your heart.” There will be people who support you and there will be some that don’t at first and then come around, and then there will be the people who just never support your decision. And that’s okay. They are allowed to make that decision just as you are allowed to make whatever decision you’re trying to make.

If you are struggling with making a hard decision, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions:

What are you most afraid of? Making the decision or the repercussions of the decision?

Will the outcome of the decision lead you to live a happier, healthier life?

Who are you most afraid of disappointing with the decision, yourself or other people?

If the answer is other people, I want you to remember that YOU are the one who is living YOUR life. You have one job while living this life, and that is to MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY. Do us all a favor and honor that.

These were the three questions that I kept asking myself over and over again, along with “how am I going to live alone?”, “will I be able to afford my life with one income?”, “what are people going to think? or say?”. And I’m sure you will have a million other questions that you will ask yourself. But my point is, again, “there is no set path; always follow your heart.”

If parts of your life are not fulfilling to you, make the change, take the jump, scare the shit out of yourself, PLEASE! I promise you, the other path you take will be full of more adventures, growth, accomplishments, and happiness. With a sprinkle of sadness, regression and unsuccessfulness here and there because, well, balance.

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