I graduated from college 10 years ago today. 10 years!!
It’s amazing to look back on all I’ve experienced since then – missions, travel, friendships, falling in love (to name a few.)
In some ways I feel like I’m still 22, in other ways… not so much (aka it’s no longer fun to stay up all night “just because.”)
I wrote the following essay for one of my writing classes a few weeks before graduation. I love seeing the dreams I’ve fulfilled in the last decade and I’m excited for the ones I have yet to accomplish…
My biggest fear is to settle for a mediocre life. I don’t want to work nine-to-five. I don’t want a husband and 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. I don’t want to retire when I’m 65 and move to Florida. I want more.
I want to travel. I’ve heard Broadway is best in New York, and lobster tastes best in Maine. Montana has good mountains, Arizona has the Grand Canyon, and Portland, Oregon has the best beer (though I don’t drink beer). For years I’ve desired to visit Mark Twain’s house in Connecticut, Norman Rockwell’s museum in Massachusetts, and the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Tennessee. He had a dream, and I do too. I want to sink my feet in the sands of a Fijian beach, taste the cheese in Switzerland, and swim in Italy’s Blue Grotto. I want to gaze upon King Tut’s tomb, walk through the Taj Mahal, and stand by the Great Wall of China.
I want to read. I’m curious to see if Jane Austin is as good as everyone says (maybe she can even teach me how to love). Oscar Wilde is supposed to be funny, so perhaps he is the cure for a crummy day. If I’m ever bored, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle should be stealth enough to keep me guessing, but if he isn’t, there’s always Edgar Allen Poe to make my head hurt. While I’m catching up with the classic writers, I also want to become acquainted with the modern ones. I want to appreciate poetry as much as the people who understand it do. I want to be the woman who is always found reading at the park, or coffee shop, or Taj Mahal.
I want to write. Whatever happens to me, whatever doesn’t happen, I want to put into words. The ordinary days, the odd days, the awful days, they all deserve to be documented. Microsoft Word, journals, napkins, whatever it takes. I want live with the oppressed and bring their stories of injustice to life–the child soldiers in Africa, the sex slaves in Asia, the poverty stricken all over. Being published would be nice (though I don’t want to judge the quality of my writing on such basis). A book is my dream.
I want to teach. If I do it right, my students will learn that there’s more to life than high school. They will have to sit next to someone new every day. If the weather is nice, we will go outside. Field trips will be a regular occurrence. Documentaries will be shown. Short stories, essays, and articles will be read. They will be forced to write. Every day. A five-minute free write to start each class period. A reflection on the covered material at the end of class. Their homework will be to think. Final exams will be flexible—a paper, presentation, art project—whatever they want to do to show all they have learned. Grades will be based on their attempt, not necessarily their ability. I will probably get fired.
I want to love. I want to love my family even though they’ve hurt me. I want to love mean people—the closed minded, the insulting, the ignorant, and the annoying. Perhaps no one has ever loved them before. I want to love a man. I dream of the day when my knees will crumble because of the way he looks at me from across the room after years of being together. I dream of the fights, the fun times, and the make-ups. We won’t have an average wedding—it will be inexpensive and outside. A cookout on the beach with shrimp sishcabobs and a ukulele. No shoes allowed. But then again, maybe we’ll just save ourselves the invitations and elope. I long to be a foster parent, to provide love for the children who’re lacking. I desire to give birth, to create life, to understand the connection between mother and child. I want to love like Jesus did. I want to stop pulling a Peter and actually stand up for my savior (even when I’m doubting, embarrassed, or angry at God).
I want to be happy. No matter the circumstance. People will die, misfortune will come, and life will treat me unfairly. I want to find joy in all of life (and even death). There is always something to be grateful for. Each day is a gift, yet I treat it like a burden. Monday is just as exciting as Friday. It’s a day I get to breathe, laugh, and learn. I want to defeat the routine of everyday life, the stress of to do lists, and the fear of failure. I want to stop comparing myself to others, and stop measuring my worth by success, beauty, and boys.
I want to be uncomfortable. God only knows I’m most alive when I’m being challenged. I need obstacles and setbacks and the strength to overcome them. Life should be lived dangerously enough to get hurt. Contentment is not my goal; I desire to live for more than myself.
I want a lot of things. I want to change, to be a better person than I was yesterday, yet still flawed enough to grow tomorrow. I want to live simply; to detach myself from the materialism that has already consumed me. I want to meet Johnny Depp, win an Oscar, ride in a hot air balloon, donate a kidney and encounter every person in the world. I want to wear Chucks when I’m 40. I want to be remembered.
I’m a twenty-one year old on the verge of college graduation.
I want to stop dreaming and start doing.