This cartoon is not completley relevant, since this is not a post about New Years resolutions, because I don’t believe in them. However, since this is the first post of the New Year and this post can be seen as inspiration for those of us who make resolutions (and those who don’t) its relevant enough to post. Plus, Calvin and Hobbes rocks!
So anyways, today I want to talk about our dreams. Specifically, what stands between us and the realization of whatever dreams we have…
Back in Jr. High School, when I hated life and felt like it was impossible for me to make friends and be happy, I decided that I needed to adopt a new life philosophy. I didn’t see it as a philosophy at that time, since I was just thirteen, but all the same I started telling myself: “I’d rather regret something I did, than regret something I didn’t do.”
All of a sudden, my life started to change.
“I’d rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven’t .”
Apparently I was quoting Lucille Ball.
The first thing I did, under this new philosophy, was apply to attend a private school in my area. Although I was nervous about leaving my handful of friends behind, I really felt like I needed a fresh start somewhere where no one knew me or knew how much I was teased and isolated normally in school. I got in, and suddenly I had a whole world of opportunity open for re-invention! [That story is told more fully in this post.]
This philosophy took me through High School to College, where I made sure I jumped in from day one – making friends everywhere I could and volunteering for the Women’s Center where I eventually made a TON of friends, and got the most amazing job ever on top of that! I got my internship in the same way – my advisor encouraged me to shoot for some really competitive internships and I figured I had nothing to lose, so I applied.
I’m not saying this philosophy hasn’t brought me bad times. In one particularly poor bit of decision-making I ended up with a splotchy purple/brown/blonde/fuschia mess of hair just two hours before a movie date! On a more serious note, I made some mistakes in high school that I still regret to this day. Some decisions (like where to go to college) caused me many tearful, anxious nights. I got rejected from two internships before I was accepted by the perfect one.
That’s life though, its never going to be fun 100% of the time, there are GOING to be rejections and failures and tears and pain… but if you’re going to fail anyways, wouldn’t you rather have tried your best and failed spectacularly instead of not trying at all? I would. Those failures make for be best stories, after all. (My purple-hair experience eventually became a short-story that earned me an A in a class, for instance.)
It makes me incredibly sad to watch people I care about pass up on their dreams because they’re afraid. I’ve seen talented people with AMAZING dreams just give up because they feel that the odds are stacked against them, or there’s someone better out there, or whatever else they’ve told themselves to justify not trying. This isn’t okay.
When you consider all of the horrible things that can be there standing in our way, like prejudice, poverty, social inequality that leads to a lack of opportunities… why would you ever make it harder for yourself by standing in your own way? There are always going to be more talented people out there and, yes, rejection happens… but sometimes, when you put yourself out there, you get exactly what you wanted. And if you don’t? All you have to do is make a new plan, and try again.
I graduate from college in just three short semesters (fingers crossed that I finish my two majors in time) and, to be honest, I am TERRIFIED. I went from knowing exactly what I was going to do in my life to deciding to chase some stronger passions without as clear of a career path. This was a slightly scary, but exhilarating, decision to make as a first year student… but now that I am a junior I’m not sure whether I want to thank my eighteen year old self or yell at her! The scariest thing of all: I won’t know how to feel about all of this for quite a few years now, after I’ve graduated and have some idea as to where these decisions are going to take me… but that’s okay. Its okay because I know that no matter where life takes me, I am NOT going to give up on my dreams.
I wrote this for myself, because I have a few opportunities floating out there that I am waiting anxiously to hear back about. I don’t even expect acceptance from either of them, to be honest, because they’re such big reaches for me… but there’s no harm in trying! (I’ll be more specific when I get an acceptance/rejection!)
More than that though, I wrote this for everyone else out there because I remember all too clearly what it was like to feel paralyzed and miserable and useless, not wanting to even get out of bed because I just knew that the world was waiting to knock me down.
[ETA: I just want to make it ABUNDANTLY clear that I don’t feel as if depression is something you can just believe yourself out of. Mental illness is on of those totally unfair, difficult to live with, cards that the world deals out to people… but believing in yourself enough to seek out help, whatever kind of help you feel comfortable with and can access, can be an important first step in making the most out of the life you have!]
I know sometimes even simply surviving is MUCH harder than just believing in yourself, because the world is an incredibly unfair place, but at the same time I do truly believe that if you have that faith in yourself you can achieve so much MORE than you would have otherwise, no matter what your circumstances are. So let go of self doubt and just, get out there in 2011… after all, what have you got to lose?
What’s awesome about you? What are your dreams? How are you working towards them? Help me turn the comments of this post into a source of inspiration and community!