A Big Decision

I'm on the precipice of making a big decision. I can stay on my current path or I can follow a road I've not yet traveled.

If I take the new road, my community will probably change. My work will still be in the life story and personal history field, but my everyday activities will change. There's a lot to consider.

I have dozens of questions and what-ifs. The biggest one: What if no one joins me? What if I'm alone and hear crickets?

When I'm faced with decisions like this one, I always look back into my past to find wisdom that can help me work through my fears. It's how I live my legacy of love.

It Felt Like Home

Today, I was thinking about all of my major life transitions—college, apartment, career, marriage, children, second career—and which words of wisdom resonated with me.

In every case, I thought of the same words: It felt like home.

My first significant transition was moving 600+ miles to college, 10-11 hours by car away from my New England home.

Back then, we didn't have the internet. All marketing materials were on paper. I read every brochure, but I only had one chance to see the campus before I accepted and moved to Pittsburgh.

How would I know whether this school was the right place for me?

As soon as my feet hit the quad, I remember thinking this feels like home.

A Golden Opportunity

Just before I graduated from high school, someone from the college's engineering department called and offered me a golden opportunity.

I could go to campus for the summer, receive free room and board, work in a research lab, receive a stipend (a real job!), and meet about a dozen classmates at the same time.

How could I pass it up?

So I broke the news to my friends and family—some who were less than happy that I was leaving so early—and I hopped on a plane by myself for the first time in my life.

I remember being afraid of the unknown, and I remember lots of what-ifs:

What if I don't meet any new friends?

What if I'm miserable?

What if I don't succeed? 

What I remember most
was smiling.

What I Remember Most

But what I remember most was smiling.

Yes, that's what I said . . . I remember smiling.

I've never actually told anyone this before, so you're one of the first. I remember looking out the window of the airplane and smiling ear to ear. I was truly independent for the first time in my life, and I was doing something exciting!

Once I settled into my dorm and met my summer friends, I felt that feeling again . . . home.

What do I mean by it felt like home?

I felt like people understood me. My fellow students and I wanted to work hard and study. In fact, during one of my four years our university was reported as the school with the most homework in the United States. And most of us considered that a badge of honor (because it was the truth.)

We all wanted to be successful. We were all overachievers, and a disproportionate number of my fellow students were introverts, just like me.

The eight guys to one girl ratio made me unique as did my Massachusetts accent, so I was almost always welcomed.

And the best part . . . only one person at the whole school knew me from high school. I could reinvent myself.

I met new friends, and I was happy. Next stop—success!

Failure Sometimes Comes Before Success

My first semester was hard. It was harder than anything I had ever done to that point in my life. In the past, if I put enough effort in, I would succeed. But this time, I just watched my grades fall slowly down to the lowest I'd ever seen on my report card before.

I didn't fail any courses with an F, but in my mind I failed.

Although I was happy with my friends, I was miserable with my work. Something had to change.

I talked to my suitemates, and I heard about a major that no one from the admissions department mentioned to me during the recruiting process. That program was exactly what I told everyone I wanted to do before I accepted.

I immediately switched majors, and my grades soared back up to what I expected of myself. I attended classes with even more of my friends, and I loved what I was doing.

Now that's how I define success.

My Past Informs My Future

So how does my college experience inform my current decision?

I have the same what-if questions now as I did back then.

What if I don't meet any new friends?

What if I'm miserable?

What if I don't succeed? 

But now, I can look back on my own life and remind myself that anything and everything is possible.

People will join me.

I will smile.

I will succeed.

Even if I fail at first, I will adjust and succeed.

And if I'm on the right path, it will feel just like home.


What About You?

Which of your past experiences have helped you make pivotal decisions in your life?

Is there a phrase that serves as your internal compass?

We'd love to hear from you! Please leave us a comment or send us an email.

A Note for My
Faithful Friends

The following is an addendum, a note for my faithful friends

Back in my college years, I didn't have the benefit of the Bible to help guide my decision making. I believed in God, but I didn't study the Bible. In fact, during that season of my life, religion was a confusing story that I'll tell you some other day.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I rely on my faith as well as my past experiences to get me through my fear.

One of my favorite verses that grounds me during pivotal decisions is Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV):

"But the Lord says, 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'"

I feel as if this verse says, look at your options. Ask your faithful elders and God for wisdom. Choose the way that follows God's path for you. Take a step. And if it's the right path, it will feel just like home.

What Bible verse helps you make critical decisions and how does that verse speak to you?

I'd love to hear your answer!

Want to learn more about saving your life story?
Check out my Life Story School!


This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!


© 2020 Michelle Beckman, Sunday Dinner Stories, All rights reserved internationally.
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10 thoughts on “It Felt Like Home”

  1. This is a great message Michelle! It reminds me how we all go through life transitions. Faith can help carry us forward.

    • Very true. Sometimes we cause the life transitions, and sometimes they are forced upon us. These days, faith always carries me forward! Thanks for sharing, Heather.

  2. Oh my goodness! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this whole post!!!!

    I’m making note of this part especially so I can remind myself of this:

    “But now, I can look back on my own life and remind myself that anything and everything is possible.

    People will join me.

    I will smile.

    I will succeed.

    Even if I fail at first, I will adjust and succeed.

    And if I’m on the right path, it will feel just like home.”

    Even though my desire of what ‘home’ FEELS like is probably way different than most…. I can DO this!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    I wish you the very best with your journey!

  3. Hi Michelle, what a great post! I’ve taken many risks during my life, mostly around career decisions. I’ve chosen to be self employed many times and any of you business owners out there understand what that means. I trust my intuition and follow it. I have good instincts and typically land on my feet when I’m considering a big decision. One of my mantras that I currently use is “I am on my right and perfect path.” Good luck on your journey, Michelle and good for you for stepping into your courage.

  4. I love your post. I talk so much to my clients about clearing negative events from the past that is holding them back — I sometimes forget that their current reality is also formed by beautiful, joyful, happy events. Thank you for reminding me to add this piece back into my repertoire for myself and others.

    • You are so welcome, Dawn. Yes, I agree that our current reality is formed by the positive and the negative events from our past and are present. We need to know how to use all of the good and the bad to design the future we want to live. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!

  5. This hit me in a deep way. Like you, all my major life decisions, while not always easy, came with that “home” feeling. I’ve learned to go with my gut and trust my instincts. It may not go exactly as I imagined, but it’ll be what it’s meant to be. Thank you for this! So good.


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