What would you do if money wasn’t an object? If judgement didn’t exist? If the perfect opportunity presented itself?
What dreams would you pursue? What fears would you break free of? What risks would you take?
I wrote the piece below before my current job became a reality, leaving room for certain details to be filled in. I wrote it because I wanted to speak this truth over my life, and God delivered above and beyond what I could have imagined. Today I work for a nonprofit doing work that I love and it’s positioning me for a career that is the proverbial glass slipper – made just right for me.
Even though I’m posting this after the fact, I feel led to share because I want to encourage anyone else who is on the cusp of something new. Claim it and go after it. Fear does not get to be in the driver’s seat – courage does.
*Written on September 10, 2017 — Dream deferred until November 6, 2017
“Well, that’s fear. And there’s always going to be a certain level of fear in the unknown. But do you really want that to be the only reason you don’t pursue your dream?”
Megan’s words rang in my ears. I took them and turned them over, examining their accuracy. And I realized that she was right – spot on, 100 percent, absolutely right. And something in me broke.
It’s funny how our excuses can sound so valid in our minds, so logical. But when we speak them out loud, either to ourselves or a loving third-party, the flaws in that logic begin to peek through.
Sitting on the couch with my roommates, chatting about our days and telling them about a potential job opportunity, I felt challenged to make a choice. Was I going to keep making decisions based on what made sense on paper and seemed reasonable to other people, being led down a smooth career track and up the corporate ladder, despite it being an ill-fitting path? Or was I going to take the road less-traveled, the one that looked scary and strange to others but was just for me?
I thought I’d chosen the latter, but over the years I realized at some point I had taken the exit ramp from a pothole-filled scenic route to the steady expressway. I went because it was presented to me. I stayed because it was comfortable – until it wasn’t. And now I found myself at a crossroads, having to decide if I was going to accept this position and continue in that direction, or if it was time to make a U-turn.
As my roommates and I talked and as they asked me questions, my true dreams rose to the surface. Dreams of creativity and storytelling and making an impact. Dreams that were difficult to properly articulate and felt rather ambiguous, but also felt like a proverbial glass slipper, made just right for me. But the unknown was giving me serious pause. I couldn’t see this dream, I couldn’t touch it and guarantee its existence. It didn’t hold a promise of a seamless transition, or a stable career with a 401K and health insurance. But then Megan asked me that question – the question about fear, the question I’m always battling and bouncing around in my head – and it’s like a mirror was put up to my face, yet I didn’t recognize the person staring back at me.
What happened to the fearless girl? The one who quit her job in Arkansas to move to Chicago and take on the world? The one who didn’t care what people thought because she knew that her dreams and her calling were more important than promises of security. Where did she go? And where did this new girl come from? The one who believed that abundance only came in small doses and that being in a safe place was more valuable than taking chances in pursuit of her dreams? This girl was afraid to take risks. This girl was full of excuses. This girl was running from who she was created to be.
I didn’t recognize this girl, and I definitely didn’t like her. I wanted her gone, far away from me. I wanted to banish her, never to be seen from again. So I decided to take steps toward that.
First I did some dream mapping. With the help of those same roommates, I begin to explore what I was created to do and how to pursue it. And then the unknown quickly took shape into something real and tangible. And it was better than I ever could’ve imagined, checking boxes I didn’t even realize I wanted checked. The dream became a reality, but in many ways it’s still a step into the unknown.
As I leave Walker Sands to pursue a new opportunity at *United Way of Metro Chicago it’s scary. But it’s also one of the most comforting things I’ve ever done, because I know it’s the right move for me. I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I know it’s a step in the direction toward the woman God has created me to be.
My roommate’s words still ring in my ears. There is going to be a certain level of fear in anything new. But the difference now is that I’m refusing to let it hold me back from pursuing my dreams.