I like to think that I know myself. What I like, what I don’t. What I want to do with my life- where I feel my calling is. I think we all strive to find our voice and ‘know’ ourselves; but at the end of the day, does anyone really know themselves? Is such a thing even possible? They say the human mind is complex, multifaceted and ever changing. I tend to over think everything, and in that, I ironically often miss what is glaringly obvious.
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon the High School Quarterback from my Freshman Year’s Facebook page. He was then a senior and always a free spirit. He roamed the halls with a long board, long hair and no shoes. He stuck out like a sore thumb in the middle of my preppy Charlotte High School, yet everyone accepted. The only way I can make sense of this anomaly is that he accepted himself, so it was only natural that everyone else would follow suit. It was well known that he went to California on a scholarship to play college football; It was a significant deal for such a large college to pick a boy from North Carolina. Many talented high school athletes train for years, but are never faced with the same opportunists.
What I found as I mindlessly flipped through his pictures was far from what I expected. He had dropped out of college, got married and became a missionary. He now lives in a third world country with his wife. He is only 19.
I always knew of this boy at school, but now I know of him as a man. One that I don’t even know but respect immensely- not because of his missionary work, but because of his courage. I envy his ability to be different and to follow his heart no matter what anyone else says. To leave behind what many people would call ‘the chance of a lifetime’ so that he could create life he wanted. I strive to have his confidence and his spirit- which is odd considering he is a stranger to me.
Yet, I think we all know him to some extent. I know the fear of chasing your dreams well. I know of the nights spent contemplating the future, imagining how people will react, their possible words ringing in my ears. I can imagine he was scared, and I assume many people scoffed at the 19 year old running off to get married and move to a third world country- ‘throwing away’ a free education and a future of ‘success’.
To loosely quote Robert Frost, I am at a path diverged in a yellow wood and I am staring at two choice and ultimately two outcomes. The one that is expected of me, and my dreams. I have a reliable and easy outcome one way and a chance of great happiness and success- with possible failure on the other.
I only have one life. I only get to be young once. I will be 17 in just a few weeks. I turned 16 a year ago almost to the day with stars in my eyes and enough hope to supply an entire population. I was ready to set free all of my creativity no matter what the people around me thought. Yet, a year later I can say that I have been living for others. Working my fingers to the bone to please those around me, parents, teachers, church leaders, family friends and not myself. I am done.
Since I have started this blog and my YouTube Channel, I have had to work to prove myself to everyone around me. Beg for acceptance and understanding, and yet I still feel misunderstood. I would imagine that’s how the quarterback felt.
I used to think that chasing my dreams made me selfish until I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I could never please everyone. This year I have decided to truly pursue my interests and now I am terrified. A part of me wanted to fail so that I could close that chapter of my life, chock it up to the foolishness of youth and continue towards my goal of being a lawyer, or teacher or whatever profession that would make my family comfortable.
But to be comfortable is to throw your life away. I think when I finally make myself uncomfortable, I will be truly living out to my potential. Maybe I want to go far away to college, maybe I want to study fashion or communications or be a writer. Does it matter that I decide now? All I do know is that I don’t want to look back as an old woman and regret not living my life to the fullest.
I love to write. I love all aspects of video production, being on camera, fashion, makeup, cooking and giving advice. I have found what I am passionate about, and now I need to figure out how to pursue that in a way that makes sense as a career. This is the opposite of anyone I know, my peers are all aspiring doctors, lawyers and engineers. In a way I feel like an outsider in my community, not because I don’t have friends, but because my desires are so different.
Then again, maybe I just need to stop thinking so much. Maybe I need to grow my hair out, kick off my shoes and let life take me where it will. I could learn a few things from that peculiar boy who used to walk the halls of my school- I think most people could.