One that opposes, stands in the way of, or holds up progress;
A person or thing that opposes or hinders something;
Something immaterial that stands in the way and must be circumvented or surmounted.
What are the things that have kept you from realizing your dreams? Sometimes I think about the people or things or circumstances in my life, past and present, that have either made it harder or impossible to get where I want to be. I don't mean placing blame upon or harboring bitterness toward other people. Although it can be a person, I think most of the time (for me anyway) the obstacle is something that is largely out of our control.
Last weekend when we were at our college homecoming, we were walking through the student center when two older couples came up to us and asked us to take their picture. As it turned out, they were part of the class of '59 and were being honored for the 50th anniversary of their graduation. We stopped for a few minutes to chat with them, with the usual questions like what was your major, where do you live now, and what do you do. When one of the ladies heard that my husband works at NASA, she shared with us that she had always wanted to be an astronaut ever since she was a little girl. It was her dream to be the first woman in space! 50 years ago, however, when she entered college as a young woman with the desire to major in engineering, she faced an obstacle. She was asked, "Do you want to get married someday?" She hesitantly replied that she wasn't quite sure at that point, and was then told that her only options were to study to become a secretary, a teacher, or a nurse. They wouldn't allow a woman to major in engineering.
I wish I could tell you that the story ended with that nice lady overcoming that obstacle and fulfilling her dream. I wish I could say that she had changed the system and accomplished more than she had ever imagined. But we could tell by the disappointment in her voice that it hadn't turned out that way. Don't get me wrong; she didn't seem miserable or look like a woman who had never accomplished a thing. I want to believe that she found happiness and success in her life in other areas. I wish that we had gotten the rest of her story that day. I have thought about her many times since last weekend. I've found myself wondering what other avenues she might have pursued when that door was closed on her dream.
Sometimes having those obstacles and figuring out ways around them can be a good thing in the long run. Growing up poor, for example, was an obstacle in my life. Additionally, I was from a broken home with a father who didn't pay child support. As a child, I couldn't do anything to change that circumstance. As I got older I knew that I would have to work very hard to overcome it. I needed a way out and I pursued it with education. I wanted to go to college, but there would be no college fund or savings account provided for me. I needed scholarships and I needed grants, so I set out to achieve that. Trust me, there were still obstacles. Huge ones, in fact. People and circumstances got in the way. Some of them seemed impossible to get through at the time, but looking back now I appreciate it so much more because of the struggle and in spite of it. I never want to take for granted where I've been.
At this time in my life, my obstacles are infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. I guess more specifically, the obstacle is my own body. It's terribly frustrating when something gets in the way of your dream. When that something is yourself, it can almost make you crazy. We don't want our big, life-changing decisions made for us! We don't want somebody or something to tell us we can't achieve our dreams. It's infuriating when it is out of our control, when all we want to do is have a baby, but our own bodies keep getting in the way.
Sometimes we can make it around those obstacles, and sometimes I think it's also great when we realize that we can choose another path (in this case, parenting through adoption or living childless and happy).
Right now I'm trying to overcome infertility, knowing that if it works, I'll have to face the possibility of another miscarriage. Those are my obstacles. I've been face-to-face with them before. I'm determined to find a way around, over, or through them.