What Have Been The Turning Points In Your Life?

There are times in your life when everything seems to be going one way. Suddenly, things change and end up being completely different. What are those turning points in your life?

One of the more remarkable things about one person’s life is how it unfolds. Often, it doesn’t come about in a linear, straightforward way. Instead, it zigs and zags, sometimes lurching dramatically from one direction to another.

There are several things that might cause these swings.

For instance, particularly early in life, you may just be learning about yourself, what you want and what your dreams and goals are. As you shed the expectations of your parents, your teachers, your friends, and others, you might alter the trajectory of your life, occasionally quite suddenly. You might change your college major, or trade one job for another, as you realize what works for you and what doesn’t.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you show thanks?’

Alternately, some changes are forced upon you. There might be some sort of limitation in what you can afford, or where you can live. While at the time these can be uncomfortable or unwelcome, ultimately they might prove to be very meaningful or impactful, even if they are outside your control.

Or maybe you have just needed a change. You did one thing, and learned from it. But now, in order to continue to grow, you need something else, so you make a change.

Whatever the situation, turning points can be impactful, altering even core concepts of who you are or what you are able to achieve. What are some of yours?

Related questions: How have you changed? What makes change possible? Who was your best teacher? Have you had an ‘Aha!’ moment?

2 thoughts on “What Have Been The Turning Points In Your Life?”

  1. The following are just a sampling of turning points in my life:

    • While I got excellent grades throughout my elementary and high school years, I never thought going to college was financially possible. When I met with my guidance counselor during my junior year to talk about my plans after high school and did not have college as my obvious next step, she demanded — firmly but kindly — that I come back to her later with at least a handful of schools I would apply to. She let me know that my family’s low income and my grades would qualify me for a mix of scholarships and loans to make higher education possible.

    • On my first day in college, I joined an organization that taught students how to organize for systemic change on social and environmental justice issues — I wanted to take on homelessness for a few reasons. A handful of students and I decided to start a task force to begin the work of involving the broader U of M community in our efforts. I stayed with the organization for five years as a student and three years as paid staff. The experience changed my politics from being conservative to becoming a lefty. It also got me recognized by the broader community of nonprofit homeless organizations. Within a few years, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless hired me as its Executive Director, an organization I ran for 11 years.

    • Also back in my college days, Professor Terence Ball introduced me to the modern-day agrarian essayist and poet Wendell Berry. I became obsessed with Berry and how I could change my relationship with food (e.g., growing some of my own vegetables through sustainable gardening methods, getting politically involved in the issue). Professor Ball also encouraged me to go back to my family’s farm for the summer after college (after which I had my job lined up at that social justice group I mentioned in the previous paragraph). He told me that I should grow, forage for, and preserve as much food as possible. And so, for three and a half months, I went back home to do just that. I tilled up and cared for two large garden plots while also picking wild fruits on our farm’s woodland — filling a chest freezer in the process.

    • Because of a deeply personal matter I don’t care to write about, my motivation for working for systemic changes on homelessness and food production issues changed quite abruptly from anger to hope. I now know that the topics I have devoted my life’s work to are solvable problems. People impacted and the community of activists and advocates, to state it plainly, must embark on the work of building the political will to make systemic change possible.

  2. The earliest turning point for me was a day I walked home from middle school and started talking to another girl from the orchestra who was taking a different route that day to avoid a bully. We became lifelong friends and she has changed SO much in my life that I can’t begin to count all the ways. Possibly saved me from extreme depression over the rest of middle school, which was generally as horrible as people always say it is.

    The next biggest one was choosing a college from 3 that had accepted me. I mean… everything changes with your decision what to do after high school.

    So… the same goes with my decision (or lack thereof) of what to do after college. A plan fell through literally at the last minute, and I could have gone home, stayed in my college town, or tried to continue with the path (moving to NYC) on my own, with no resources nor friends. That’s what I chose and the rest of my life unfolded from that.

    But the biggest one was the day I went to a July 4 party with a work friend and met my future husband. It’s just impossible to imagine what my path would have been if I hadn’t chosen to go that day.

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