It’s been a wild ride filled with so many wonderful experiences, joys, and beautiful moments, more than you could have ever imagined. And, yes, there have been almost as many heartbreaking, soul wrenching events that if they were piled up in front of you, they may look as high as Everest.
But, everything that you’ve already lived through has given you the heart, the soul, and the backbone to make it through. The things that have torn you apart will keep you strong and, in time, you will use them to your advantage.
Right now, in March 1979, you can’t wait to leave Rutgers. You swear on everything holy that once you get your diploma, you will never step foot on that campus again. You enjoy the freedom that college life provides and treasure the ability to invest yourself into all of that intellectual stimulation. So, as you sit in your dorm room trying to figure out the best way to ride a Magic Carpet out of New Brunswick, you are never going to believe where that colorful remnant will take you.
Right back to teaching at Rutgers in New Brunswick.
Lesson # 1: You never say never. Anything can and will happen, sometimes going against everything you do or say. At times, it feels as if you don’t have control over your own life and you are just a piece of driftwood floating with the currents. You will always have a boss, whether it be at work or in the home, telling you what to do, where to go, how to act, and who to be.
Now, I know you. You’re thinking that the old man you’re going to be lost his fastball along the way and is just giving in. You’re wondering how you/I lost the nerve and started to compromise.
Lesson #2: Everything in life is about compromise! You’ve heard people talking about know when to pick your fights, shook your head, and laughed. That’s because you are fighting everyone and everything all the time. You want the system to change. You want your family situation to change. You want the world to change.
What you will discover is that, in the end, you are the one who is going to change.
You aren’t going to change who you are, what you believe, or the very foundations of everything that makes your world whole. No, what’s going to change is your ability to see the entire picture. You’re going to discover that your perspective is more about you, more ego driven. As time goes on and the cloudy, fuzzy, almost indiscernible vision you have of everything around you gets much clearer and you are going to find greater meaning in what you know, what you do, and who and how you love. It will also mean you are going to love yourself even more.
Right now, you are so young, yet the things you’ve experienced have made you old. Mom has been in and out of mental hospitals and homes for the last fifteen years and, whether you know it or not, her problems engulf your heart and soul. She will live this way until she dies, but one day you will be able to free yourself from her suffering and you will bloom like a springtime flower.
Your workaholic father and you will never see eye to eye until the day he dies. It won’t be until after he passes that you will finally realize you were never going to please him or be the person he wanted you to be. This will be good because you know that you are who you are and who you want to be.
You will find love with a magnificent woman who will help you grow in ways you never know you could. Together, you will have the two most wonderful daughters who light up your life even in the darkest of times. You will have the warmth, affection, and feelings of love that you dream of and write about in your notebook.
And, Steve, that’s the thing. Dreams do come true. It happens when you least expect it or aren’t paying attention. One day you’re worrying about things that seem important at the time, but, in looking back, they were just imaginary bumps on the road of life. Dreams are not a fantasy if you make them realities.
You are going to be alright. You are going to make it. Your life is going to be better than you can imagine and that’s because you gave yourself the chance to live it.
With all the love in my heart,
Steven A. Miller is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Internship Coordinator for the Rutgers University Department of Journalism and Media Studies in New Brunswick, New Jersey. A proud graduate of the university, he has been teaching, advising, and proudly working with his magnificent students for over thirty years. He is also proud to say that one of them was Rachel Papke.
For more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) visit CDC.gov.
If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “CONNECT” to 741741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual.