Recently, a summer intern I've been working with asked me for some advice. She’s on track to graduate next spring from college and asked,
“What would you say to yourself if you were my age?”
“Smart girl,” was my first thought. I followed it with “I’m not old enough to answer it because college was only…hmm…well, crap. It’s been a minute.”
I’m unsure what I said to her that day, but I’ve been thinking about this question ever since. I’m posting an open letter to younger versions of myself with the hopes that others can take something away from it (even if it’s just to remind myself of my advice in a few years.)
Dear Younger Version of Me,
You are ending a chapter in your life and standing on the brink of the unknown. There are lots of choices to make, but none come with a clear answer.
It’s dark on the other side, so can’t see what’s happening down any of the roads you could take. You might not be able to hear any sounds that could give you a clue about which choice to make.
It’s times like this when it’s natural not to want to take the step into the unknown. It's too soon. I’m not ready. Maybe if…
We often don’t have a say in what happens to us in life, but we are in control of how we respond to what happens. Take my father as an example. When he was a senior in college, he received draft cards for Vietnam, which stated that he would be in the US Army immediately upon graduation. The Army could not give him the real-world experience in his major that he needed, nor would he be doing the kind of work he loved.
My father responded by actively contacting all of the armed forces and visiting with their recruiters to ask if they had the work that he wanted to do. He chose to voluntarily enlist into the Air Force so he could answer his country’s call while receiving real-world experience doing what he loved.
When standing at the threshold of a significant life change, you have three ways to respond. You can refuse to make any decisions and continue as if nothing happened. You can follow the path of least resistance and go along with everyone else’s expectations of you. Or, you can actively participate in creating your future by crafting a unique response that turns the situation around to your advantage.
You always have a choice in any situation.
When a path you could take feels as if it could happen easily, bring you a sense of peace, and you have a bit of the childlike joy and excitement about doing it, then life has taught me that the journey on that path will be brighter, happier, and far more magical than you could ever imagine. Don’t settle for anything less.
Now go and embrace your passion. You got this.