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Choosing Better

Remember that life is always better when we use our regrets only as reminders of how much we’ve learned.

Each morning she left home with a sweatshirt pulled over the low-cut, tight-fitting shirt underneath. Once at school, the sweatshirt got shoved in her locker and she received what she hoped for—looks of admiration from all the guys who stared. Their approval helped mask her conflicting feelings of shame and regret.

Shelly* couldn’t remember when she’d felt happy. It had to stretch back years—back in grade school when the hardest things she’d faced were gossipy girls. Virginity meant little once she was past having sex with five guys. Her reputation didn’t matter since her friends slept around too.

Even though she didn’t understand why, Shelly admired a girl who was totally different. Cindy* cared about school and didn’t seem to care about sex or at least wasn’t advertising her body. Shelly wondered what it might be like to not take birth control pills and deal with creepy guys wanting sex just for fun and not because they liked her.  Shelly listened to Cindy talk to a teacher about college and studying in Europe. Making plans in Shelly’s life went no further than Friday or Saturday night.

As Shelly looked at her reflection in the school lavatory mirror, she wondered what it would be like to make plans like Cindy—college, traveling. Life beyond high school. As Shelly was getting ready to shove her books back in her locker and grab her sweatshirt for home, she made a decision. School might be the first step towards a better life. She’d never been a good student, but then she’d never really tried either. She grabbed her books and went home.

Over the next few weeks, her teachers noticed the change and it was all the encouragement Shelly needed to begin the next chapter of her life. Who Shelly was no longer mattered to the Shelly she was destined to be.

*names changed for privacy


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