Hello class of 2019! Congratulations on finishing your education. You might be starting fresh at a university in the fall, a college perhaps, or entering the work world. Whatever the case may be, this message is for you.
My friend, I sat in those chairs. Yes, the ones you sat in almost every day counting down the minutes, the seconds, before class was over. You scribbled the same as I scribbled, doodled notes on the page. A number two pencil eventually upgraded to a mechanical pencil with a retractable eraser (true nerd here). Book reports. Final papers. Calculators, backpacks, gym bags, and tennis shoes. You may be wondering what comes next…and I’m not here to tell you what to do or even what to expect. I’m here to encourage you. I’m sharing with you what I wished someone had told me six years ago before I entered college or after college.
Do what makes you smile and gives you an extra hop in your step. Those moments of victory won’t feel like a sacrifice or suffocation. You will feel exhilarated. Is it worth chasing your dreams and big goals? The ones others say are impossible or silly? Absolutely. Is it practical? Not always. You will have to learn to be uncomfortable for a while. You will have to learn to disappoint others and even yourself. Yes, yourself. You are the one at the end of the day who is living your life and accountable to your actions. You are the one you will have to please and appease.
I’ve worked minimum wage jobs. I’ve mopped floors, cleaned counters and washed dishes. I’ve sat in front of a desk wishing, wanting for the weekend so I could get outside. Anything to be outside. Those were happy moments and confusing times. My heart screamed to chase my passions, but my brain kept building a brick wall. A barrier to keep me “safe” and “responsible.” These are words of warning. I was making excuses. By hearing the constrains of what others thought, I could excuse myself from living my dreams. They could talk me out of my crazy, adventurous spirit. They could convince me to sit another day in my office as my manager peered over my shoulder waiting for my next mistake. They could say “no” when all I wanted to say was “yes.”
But who really gave them the power to push away my dreams? Yup. Me. I own it. So, my friends, you can guess what I did next. I started saying “yes” to my goals and passions. I began even before I quit my job. On my off hours, evenings and weekends, I would interview, photograph and type stories. I couldn’t type fast enough.
And then, I saw the most beautiful sunrise. I believe it wasn’t the exquisite, extravagant array of colors which left me shouting in my car at the top of my lungs, “Wow! What? Wow! Oh my goodness! Wow!” I believe the sunrise illuminated, like a spotlight, the dreams I had crammed at the back of my closet. I knew in that moment I would quit my job. I knew I would chase a sunrise similar to this one as I climbed a mountaintop to photograph it. I knew I wanted to be a published, well-known author. Something in my gut said it was my purpose. (For those who believe in God and the Holy Spirit, I believe this was the Holy Spirit talking to me.)
Sure enough about a month later the time came for me to pick up my plant, books and purse and walk out to my car. My desk life was over. I brushed off the proverbial dust from my shoes and began a new journey.
One I’m living right now. It’s a scary, uncertain adventure. I’ve written hope on my walls. I’ve covered them with my dreams for the future. My goals clearly defined. I’m chasing them with firm footing.
Will life after high school or college be easy? It depends on how you define easy. For me, it has been a discovery of my desires, dreams and strengths. I’ve only just begun. I’m content. I’m happy. I’m ready.
For you, my friend, I hope you find what makes you jump out of bed in the morning. The “thing” bringing a sparkle to your eyes, and a teeth grinning smile on your face. Is it worth chasing your dreams, passions and goals? Yes. Believe me you won’t want to miss a life full of purpose and joy. Chase it. Pursue it. Don’t let your dreams die.
Above all, pursue a place of peace. A resting space. Find what makes your soul come alive and live in it, simmer in it. Resolve to reside there. This is a decision, a choice you won’t regret.