Remember that song from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog? Tiana’s song “Almost There”? I sure do. I’ve sung it pretty much every day for the last two years.
This song has been my constant companion, lifting me up when I felt overwhelmed. I had a whole playlist specifically for that, but often ended up just repeating this one song.
Let me set the stage:
My parents met in college. I thought I’d have surely found my husband after finishing my bachelor’s degree. I was in my senior year and I was sure I was “almost there”, almost to the rest of my life. Turns out that isn’t how it happened. My last semester, I felt like I was scrambling to know what to do, more especially: what was God’s will for me now? I ended up discerning into a graduate program. I decided since I hadn’t found my spouse yet, I was going to set myself up to enjoy whatever work I’d need to do in the meantime.
And the one that accepted me, truthfully the only one I applied to because I was just that sure, was incredibly far from home.
I’m a Louisiana girl, born and raised (with a little Texas sprinkled in too). Spread across those two states is my family, nearly all my friends. And I was set to leave to graduate school in Illinois. This wasn’t an easy decision by any means. There were a lot of tears shed over it (that still sometimes recur). I left, sure I was nearly there this time.
I was determined to get through it. It didn’t matter how difficult the classwork was, how lonely I got (and boy howdy did it get lonely), or the fact that this decision caused me to not be at my great-grandmother’s bedside when she died. That’s another story that involves another song, one I’ll tell later. Can you see where this is going?
A Louisiana girl faced with what felt like the impossible and maybe an eternity to wait between her and her dreams. My dream of graduating, of going home with honor, of finding the love of my life, of having as much of the life I wanted as I could work for myself. All that still seemed far away when I left for graduate school.
So I played this song. Every time I felt low. Because if Tiana could do it, so could I. Dang, she did it all, even after being turned into a frog. I had my own version of that too: I was so far away from home and my culture that I sometimes felt like a different species than the people around me. I sometimes felt worked to the bone, both from classes and my job. Grad school wasn’t easy for me, for many reasons.
Long story short? I made it. There were a lot of tears, a lot of prayers, and a lot of FaceTime calls to my mom on the way. But I got there.
In my third semester of graduate school, I first spoke to my now-husband. I graduated this August, after taking an extra semester to finish up my thesis properly. And as for home … I was there for a while. I ended up there with my then-fiancé during Quarantine/Lockdown/Whatever-you’d-like-to-call-it (from March until the end of July). And in July I got married.
“Almost There” became my destination. I still play the song, since it reminds me how far I’ve come and how hard I worked to be here. How much struggling and prayer led me to where I’m supposed to be. But I learned a lesson from feeling like two years of my life were spent largely as a journey, not a destination in themselves. I perhaps could have learned a lot more from these years if I’d taken them more day-to-day. On the other hand, this attitude of looking to the future pushed me to make it when things got rough for me. Because it turns out I was right. I was almost there and I eventually made it.
It’s not a bad thing to look to the future to give yourself hope for the present. It’s not a bad thing to live day-to-day to keep yourself happy, sane, and capable of performing your duties (school, work, whatever). The best way is to balance between them.
Appreciate every day. Each one is a destination in itself. There are things to enjoy, things to learn, beauty to appreciate, and yes, sometimes even pain to feel each day. Each day is a gift and we should live each day with that awareness. But looking to the future can give you perspective, hope, and the courage to push through the days more filled with pain. Just don’t let the future consume your present.
I leave you with this final note. My life completely changed in a single year. I was already set to graduate in 2020, but I had no idea what else was going to happen this year in my own life. I met my husband in the spring of 2019 and we were married the summer of the next year, July 2020. I met, fell in love with, and married the man of my dreams in that time. I’m a married woman now and my life is exactly where I hoped it wold be. There was no way I could have predicted how much my life would change in just over twelve months.
God always has a plan for your life. Your dreams may be out there, just waiting for a little prayer and a little work. You’ll get there. Keep dreaming, working, and praying.
Don’t forget: you’re almost there, even if it doesn’t look like you are right now, even if where you are right now is difficult and even ugly. Just don’t forget to live. Daily life can still be beautiful, even if your life in general is hard. So breathe, put in your headphones, and turn on “Almost There” for a little pick-me-up in the meantime.