Recently I went digging through some boxes in my attic in an attempt to start a major clean out, and I came across a box of papers from my senior year at Columbia College. The box contained, among other things, numerous cards I received on my graduation day. The one from my parents stood out as particularly poignant and relevant for this current time of my life. On the front was the following quote:
Always believe in YOU. Listen to your heart.
Trust your instincts. Know you CAN.
See your own strengths. Dream it – dare it. DO what you are afraid of.
Keep the faith. Follow your vision.
Remember ANYTHING is possible if only you believe.
Even if we truly love our jobs, our customers, our co-workers and believe in the mission of our company, I think that deep within most of us lies a dream that we never fully realized, a dream that maybe we let go of at some point in life for some reason – family, more job stability, etc. For me, one of those dreams was to become a writer.
Not too long ago, I took a leap of faith and entered a contest sponsored by Lexington Medical Center for the Every Woman Blog, a new Blog they were creating as a resource for women of South Carolina. Their goal was to select eight women from the Midlands to become featured columnists. Although I knew I wanted to enter from the moment I read about it, it took me almost a month to muster the nerve to sit down and write my entry. Finally, I submitted an entry at 11 p.m. the night before the entry deadline, thus beginning the waiting game. After two weeks of waiting, while I was on a road trip to the beach, the email arrived: I had been selected as one of Lexington Medical Center’s Every Woman bloggers. I was humbled, to say the least. It was official! I had finally, in a roundabout way, attained an innermost dream I’d held on to since childhood.
I do love my everyday job, but loving my job doesn’t mean that I ever gave up on my dream of becoming a writer. I don’t know where this dream come true will lead me: nowhere, a Pulitzer Prize, a movie deal or just lots of extracurricular writing, but, in any event, it was a dream come true.
What dreams do you have? Starting or finishing a college education, learning to sew, owning a second home or a 400-acre farm, or do you just dream of a 45-minute peaceful bubble bath where no one is fighting or tattling or asking you something (yes, this would be another, slightly smaller, dream of mine). In the quote above, the words “You Can Do Anything” are bold. This was not accidental: this was copied exactly as it was written on the card. I didn’t catch this nearly twelve years ago when I got the card. Back then, the monetary gift inside was a little more important. However, when I found the card in the box and re-read that message, those four words stood out like a shining star. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. You can do anything.
We are all afraid of failure. A perfectionist by nature, failure of any kind is a difficult concept for my brain to adjust to, much less accept. But at the end of the day, do you let the fear of failure hold you back from fulfilling your dreams? Do you let it color the decisions that you make on a day-to-day basis? In February of 2009, when the reality of a divorce began to loom over my head, I began to feel like a complete and total failure. My marriage had fallen apart. My children were going to be shuffled between two homes. Everything I swore would never happen to my family was happening. Then, before any final decisions were made or court proceedings begun, my then husband volunteered for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. While I kept a happy face on for most of the world, inside, again, I felt like a failure. While most everyone around me smiled and encouraged me and stated how good it would be to have my husband home from overseas, I knew the truth; he was not coming home. Not to the home and family that had been ours. In those long and dark days that did finally culminate in a divorce proceeding in February of 2011, I learned a hard lesson – sometimes failure is not the option you choose, rather, it is the choice handed to you. However, did I opt to let a failure define me and my future, or would I learn from my mistakes and realize that one failure does not a person make? Would I take that failure and rise above whom I was, who I had been, and the events that had taken place and become someone better? Did I choose to crawl under a rock and pretend not to exist, or did I do everything in my power to give myself and my children the life that we all deserved? As my dear friend, Katherine Davis, put it to me, did I make the choice to just survive, or did I choose to thrive?
During that same time frame, as I muddled through my failed marriage, the deployment, working full time, single parenting two little boys, and not having taken a class in higher education in almost 10 years, I decided that I should add one more thing to my already overflowing plate and attempt the fulfillment of another dream, that of furthering my education by working on a Masters degree. Now, a year-and-a-half into my original program of choice, I have decided that I want to do something different, so, I’ve changed my Masters program. I don’t see the non-completion or change as a failure, but rather as a different path and possibly the fulfillment of a different dream. In the end, it makes no difference because I CAN DO ANYTHING!
In my postings you may find some brutal honesty (a characteristic for which I’m either famous or notorious, depending on whom you are), some tears, some joys, some funny anecdotes about my crazy life, and probably words about some wonderfully fantastic people I’ve encountered along my journey. I hope that you will come along and join me and help me show you that even in the darkest days, you can not only survive, you, too, can THRIVE!