Not long ago my Mom and I were talking about my brother. Seemingly content to be the perpetual college student and live off of my parents for the rest of his life, doing what he wants, when he wants.

Obviously, my parents are concerned about his obvious lack of motivation and desire to get his life on track. But how do you tell a 23 year old Peter Pan to just grow up?

Being not too far from college myself, I postulated to my mother that he probably doesn’t realize what he’s doing, by purposefully failing classes so he can retake them, changing majors, constant partying, etc.

* * * * * * * *

Just two weeks before the start of my senior year, then boyfriend Hubby, took me on trip to an area mountain. After we reached the peak and looked around, Hubby took me to an overlook and proposed.

Obviously, I said yes.

And so I entered my senior year of college knowing exactly what I would do when I graduated: plan a wedding, get married, move to Virginia permanently, find a job.

My course was set.

It wasn’t until second semester, a month out from graduation that I really realized what this meant.

As my friends talked about what they thought they might do after graduation, grad school, move to Italy, stay in our college town and live with friends, I realized I had closed the door on many of my life’s possibilities. One decision, made in a matter of seconds, meant that I couldn’t move back home and take a job with a magazine I had been offered. It meant I couldn’t go back to Africa as a missionary. It meant I couldn’t stay near the college and room with friends.

I had made the decision months ago, but only just then realized the magnitude of it and the over-arching impact it would have on my life’s course.

And now, I have a baby. And like that earlier decision, it has closed doors on some of the things I could have done. Are Hubby and I taking off on a week long cross-country journey in just our car anytime soon? No. Can I just pick up and take off to visit friends in California, Mississippi and New York? Nope. Instead of taking an Alaskan cruise, we’ll be saving for college. Rather than going out to eat or buying new furniture, we’re buying formula.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say I regret either of these decisions. In fact, I’m very happy with where my life is. I can’t imagine anything I would love more than what I have now.

But I didn’t realize how much these two, seemingly simple, happened in an instant, decisions, would impact the course of my life.

* * * * * * * *

I talked to my brother about this about a month ago, and I’m not sure he got my point.

What I wanted to say to him, but couldn’t say outright was, “be careful what you do now. Be careful what you choose and think about the effect of those choices. Don’t do something without thinking because you’re young and have your whole life in front of you. You won’t always have your whole life in front of you, and what you choose now is shaping the course of your life, whether you realize the impact a night of partying or a failed class has.”

I guess he’ll learn the hard way.