Have you heard the quote: If you don’t run after your dreams, then opportunities will stop running after you.—Arunava Das
This is true in a sense, but I’m a firm believer that deep seated dreams never leave you alone. They poke until you can’t stand it anymore and decide to do something about it. As some of you know, Mel and I have decided to hop on the dream train to see where this writing journey takes us.
I always get excited—maybe too excited—when presented with new opportunities. I can’t help it. I love experiencing new things. Which is kind of odd because I wasn’t raised to dream or to walk near the edge of my comfort zone.
Graduate high school. Get a job. Get married. Have kids. Struggle. I wasn’t taught to expect more. In fact, when I announced I was going to college, my mom and step-dad didn’t know how to help me because they’d never gone through the process.
Mom was laid off from the factory. My step-dad—a real estate agent in the 80’s—lost his business. Living on a small farm, we had food, but we were poor. When my high school guidance counselor introduced me to the wonderful world of FAFSA. I saw my first real opportunity to dream bigger than the chicken farm I’d worked at since I was 14.
Looking back, I can see how I unwittingly applied four principles that helped me stay focused on my dream of graduating from college:
- I became an observer of people. I didn’t know how to proceed, so I watched my friends and asked them questions. I went on college visits with them (and their parents). A little awkward and embarrassing, but you do what you gotta do.
- I researched. I gathered information on financial aid and several different colleges then thought through my options. My dream school had been Taylor University in Upland Indiana, but I went to Wright State University Lake Campus thirty minutes from home. A wise decision that didn’t compromise the big picture goal.
- I ignored the naysayers who were convinced I wouldn’t make it in college because they didn’t. Out of frustration, I either surrounded myself with positive people or avoided people all together. I often buried myself in my writing.
- I kept my eyes on the goal. I made plenty of mistakes during my college years. I also married a year before I graduated. I remember sitting on the couch in our living room, arguing over school loans, but no amount of debt would keep me from finishing. Finishing was non-negotiable, and I never gave quitting an ounce of thought … ever.
Because of this focus, I became the first person on both my mom and dad’s side to graduate from college.
Oftentimes, embracing one dream or opportunity brings about the end of another. When I started college, I tucked away my writing dream, married, and allowed life to interfere. Not necessarily the wrong decision, but when I decided to take a career break after my divorce, the dream train stopped at my house. The conductor asked if I wanted to hop aboard. There’d be no stops along the way because time was limited.
Embracing the opportunity, I hopped on board and pulled Mel along with me. Now that we’ve started writing again, the desire to publish our novels has become all consuming. You know it’s real when the dream survives 30+ years.
The other day, Mel and I were talking about what our younger selves would think of us. When you need encouragement, try looking back at who you were at 17. There is no one who wants to see you succeed more than that individual.
I look at the four principles I used when I was 17 and they still apply today.
So, the question is what can you learn from your younger self? Can you go back to a major decision you had to make early in life, remember how you handled it, and apply it to a situation today? We know 17 year-olds have plenty of snarky things to say, but what positive piece of advice do you think your younger self would give you?
Thanks for stopping by.
Have a wonderful day!