Dear Betsy Who Sold Me Jeans at the Store,
I’ve been thinking about our conversation a lot the past few weeks, thinking about your eyes, lit up, when you told me you had credits to burn before you graduate in May and you want to study abroad next semester. When you later leaned over the counter and said in a low tone, “Can I vent?” and told me about your crossroads–that you have been offered an internship with a successful company during the same time and your mom is warning you that you should take it because it is a “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity,” yet there is something within you that wants to travel– I wanted to put my hands on either side of your shoulders, look you deep, deep in the eyes and cry,
Listen to that voice within! It is the voice of your heart, your soul! It is your most important compass in this life!
Run toward your dreams!
I did tell you this. But I feel so strongly about this issue of life after high school/college, I guess I want to drive the point home further for you and any other dreamers, adventurers, and seekers.
Betsy, there is no such thing as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” but life itself. Life is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If we chase every once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity, and deep within we want something else, we are letting our fear drive our life.
Don’t believe the hype–there is nothing certain in life. Nothing. Not today, not tomorrow. You can get that internship, get a great job, buy some furniture and a car, have a nice apartment, settle down, and then get diagnosed with cancer and die at 29.
This happens and did happen to a good friend of mine.
Listen carefully– the only things that are real are love, kindness, and our dreams. Follow them.
If your dream is to travel, then go for it as if your life depends upon it. Because it does. Your life depends on you following your heart.
The picture above was a picture I saw in college in 1995. It is called “The Great Leap of Faith.” Seeing it was a powerful and catalyzing moment for me. It read:
It’s yours, take it
Leap like a lunatic
over the chasm below
erupting as you go
your true self awaits you
now you will know
There are moments in life we are ignited, inspired, and we damn near levitate. This was that moment for me.
I decided, despite my own fears and questions and uncertainties, despite the fact that I could not answer all of the questions of my doubters, (How will you do that? How are you going to pay for it? What are you going to do with your stuff? Are you sure this is a good idea? How are you going to pay off your students loans?) I knew I had to do it. Why? Simply because I wanted to. I wanted to see if I could.
So with 500 bucks in the back pocket of my Levi jeans, I got on an airplane and headed to Australia to surf. My intention was to travel for three months. I stayed for a year. And I went on to travel throughout my 20′s by piecing together money, selling my stuff, and living lightly and with great curiosity.
I am now almost 42 years old, married to my best friend, the man I wrote about in my journals long before I met him. I have two children and a home in a neighborhood of Minneapolis that I love.
And I have absolutely no regrets, even though my friends were more established in their careers, and had nicer furniture and cars than I did. None. In fact, I am eternally grateful to that brave 20-something self that believed enough her dreams to make possible what seemed impossible.
Betsy, this world is yours for the exploring, and it’s a big world. Go see places you never dreamed you’d see, meet people you never dreamed you’d meet, and find that strength within you never thought you had.
This life is so big, so wide-open and possible. Spread your wings and fly into it, swoop and swirl, wild and free. This life, it is yours for the choosing. Take it and fly, up, up, up, into your wildest possibilities and beyond.