You Will Not Change the World

When I was younger, I remember reading the quote, “Those who are crazy enough to change the world are often the ones who do,” and I was instantly inspired. My pre-teen self was convinced that I would change the world because Bill Gates or whoever said that quote told me I could, and who was I to argue? And even as time passed, I held to that idea firmly because anything can happen if you really believe, right? And even though my concept of what it meant to change the world evolved and grew just as I did, the overarching idea of being able to accomplish change remained the same. I was hopeful that with the right mindset and the appropriate goals, I could fulfill this dream.

I’ve come to learn that the biggest problem with being full of hope is not the soul-crushing reality that the world is an unpredictable place and anything can change in the blink of an eye and there’s nothing you or I can do to stop that. No, it’s the way people around you insist fervently that, for means unique to them, your dream will not come true. And believe me, I’ve heard every thought, opinion, and idea, ranging from the well-meaning, “That’s nice, but why don’t you consider (insert alternate “reasonable” goal here) instead?” to the not-so-subtle “You don’t really think you can do that, do you?” And I don’t know about you, but the biggest struggle for keeping my dreams alive is the fight with which I have to maintain in order to not succumb to those who think their ideas are somehow more realistic or reasonable than mine, as if “reasonable” is the force driving me to hope in the first place.

But reasonable does not get you to heights never before seen.

Reasonable does not break records and encourage others to try harder.

Reasonable does not lead to great change.

I know that the doubt that shrouds my mind is not my own; it’s merely reflections of others who were too afraid to follow their own dreams and curiosities that they no longer see the point in others following theirs.

And maybe they’re right. Maybe you or I will never change the world. Maybe it is a lost cause and a dream that large is meant to stay just that: a dream. But the way I see it, the simple act of trying to create change is sometimes enough – and maybe that alone is all it takes to change the world.

So no, maybe you won’t change the world, but you can sure as hell try.

The Things I Cannot Change

My mom used to mutter this prayer a lot when I was growing up: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” There was something about peace and wisdom too, but I never took the time to remember those parts. I’ve been learning a lot about acceptance lately, so this prayer has been on my mind. I’ve been learning about how sometimes the sun doesn’t set in a way that leaves me in awe and sometimes it will only rise to reveal another cloudy day. I’ve been learning about how chasing a dream is a lonely journey because some dreams you can only dream alone. I’ve been learning about fear and love and how they’re two sides of the same coin.

I’ve learned about how all of this is okay. That even though the sunsets and the sunrises don’t look the way you want them to, they’re still signs that the world is moving forward and so are you. That even though you can only dream alone and not everybody will understand, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream at all. That even though fear and love are two sides of the same coin, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel both with a whole heart and let them drive you to make radical decisions. Life is about accepting everything that comes your way and trusting that every pain you feel, love you show, or decision you make is meant for nothing other than good.

Because you are meant for nothing other than good. You are meant to do what you know is right and trust me when I say you know what is right. You will feel it in more than just your heart. You will feel it in your mind and your soul, and it will flow down to your toes and pulse with each step you take forward. And when you feel the pushing and the fighting from your head, you will know that that fighting is nothing other than the world testing your endurance and your understanding of who you are and what you want.

So let it test you. Let it push to the cliff as Fear itself believes it is getting you one step closer to a fall. One step closer to a fail. It will laugh at your struggle and embrace your discomfort. But just as it starts to think that it has you figured out as you stare over the edge into the darkness and your toes curl as they lose ground beneath them, jump. Fear and Doubt did not push you over the edge because you were always meant to take that leap of faith – they simply gave you the courage to do it. And as you find yourself falling and learning to fly, accept that this moment right here is not something you can change (nor is it something you should want to change) because it is exactly what you are meant to be doing and trust that you will land exactly where you are meant to be.  

The Moment My Life Changed

I remember specific moments where my life had changed. The minute I bought that plane ticket to go halfway across the world; the time I chased a dream despite the many obstacles in my way; the moment I kissed that boy knowing the only two possible outcomes were happiness or heartache. I knew. In every moment I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that life would never go according to plan, and no matter how much you try to bribe your way into a better outcome, the dice have already been rolled and there’s nothing you can do but play the cards you have. I knew that they were course-altering moments and if I were in a movie, they would be the scenes that can be identified by a change in music, forcing the audience to feel one way or another. I knew.

I knew that in all the emotions I could have felt in every moment that my life had changed, the only one that pounded its way across my head, knocking into my skull time and time again to make itself known, was fear. It wasn’t the type of fear that held me back – binded at the wrists and ready to succumb to the innevitable outcome that I had no choice but to follow. Nor was it the fear that boiled my blood and left adrenaline coursing through my veins like a drug that couldn’t be stopped. It was a different kind of fear. It was fear that caused my heart to pound just a beat too fast and my mind to quiet like the world around me as it focused only on the moment I was in. It was the feeling you get when you explore a new place on your own – afraid of what could happen but curious and thrilled at the possibilities ahead. It was the moment on the track just before the gun is shot; the intensity of the musician as the conductor lifts their arms; the readiness of the actor as the curtains open in front of them. In every moment there was fear, but it was the fear of the beginning that puts everything else into action. I knew.

I knew that this fear, while not blinding or adrenaline-inducing, was one I would come to know and love because it meant my life was moving forward. While I never knew if that direction was one that would end in a triumphant roar of the audience or a defeated fall on my knees, what I did know is that I would be better off because of it. The victory would inspire me to go even further while the defeat would teach me to hold my head a little higher.

I have learned not to be afraid of being afraid – an irony that took me more time to learn than I’d like to admit. My mind has been trained into understanding that the greatest type of fear is the one you feel just moments before a change; moments before you push past the comfort zone you once set for yourself and fly into a new territory that has been waiting to be explored by you. Because the only two reasons that you can be uncomfortable with where your life is at is because you’re either staying in your comfort zone where you don’t belong, or you’re pushing past it where you’re not used to. And I would rather feel the fear of moving forward than experience the loss of standing still, and this is something I know.

Sonnet

What do you do when you learn you are wrong

When the words you believed

Were lies all along

And now that you know, are you trapped or free

How do you act when your thoughts turn around

And who you are is no longer the same

All you wanted was solid ground

But that’s not what you get when you play this game

You learn to live with what you’re not

But what happens when what you’re not becomes what you are

You learn to deal with what you’ve got

But what if you decide to raise that bar

Time won’t stop and things won’t stay the same

We always have to adjust as fluid beings

What to do With a Dying Dream

It’s natural for people to change as time goes by. Their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so many other things can change. So why does it come as such a shock when our dreams and passions that we have chased for so long start to change as well? And what do we do when we feel these changes start to take place?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to teach second grade. Now I’m going to college with plans to eventually teach at a university.

When I was in eighth grade I refused to do marching band because my heart was set on tennis. When I was a senior in high school I quit tennis so I could be drum major for marching band.

When I was younger I grew up writing nearly every day but refused to let anybody read what I wrote. Now I’ve had writing published and I write on this blog, available for the public to read.

People change, and along with these changes comes a change in dreams.

But what do you do when your dreams change? What do you do when you stop feeling passionate about what you thought was you’re main passion or your “purpose in life,” if you will?

I’ve been experiencing this for a while as I’ve been jumping around with my studies or considering different futures for myself and it’s a strange feeling. To be honest, I almost feel like a fraud. I have been diligently pursuing one future for as long as I can remember, but now that path seems worn and not as exciting and I can feel myself losing interest. I thought I had everything figured out, but now I’m questioning everything. And while sometimes I’m filled with a little bit of dread (because I’m less sure of what lies ahead) and some guilt (because I’ve jumped through too many hoops to turn around now), I have to consciously remind myself that there is nothing wrong with a change in passion or a dying dream.

We can’t fulfill every dream of ours, not because they’re unlikely or too far out of reach, but because we’re simply not meant to. Sometimes the pursuit is more important than the pursuing, and it’s that very journey that is supposed to strengthen and prepare us for the next path we are supposed to head down. I think it’s important for us to look at these changes as natural rather than scary or unexpected – if we can openly accept changes in our personality or who we are, we should also openly accept changes in what we want out of life. We smile and nod our heads encouragingly as children tell us about their dreams of becoming doctors or rock-stars or spacemen while thinking to ourselves “awe, how cute!” while knowing full well they’ll probably change their mind. We not only accept children changing their dreams but we fully expect it, so why does it feel harder to embrace that same mentality for ourselves as we get older? After all, aren’t we still growing and learning and changing?

In the same way that not every star can live forever, neither can every dream. The dying isn’t bad, it just opens up space for something new to shine.