When you have things go your way, it might not always be what you expect. I am a writer, activist and speaker. And yet I found this as a detour on the way to doing what I first planned- high school English teaching.
I got to my detour from following simple passions without worry of the outcome. I started by talking at the Woodlands Foundation. I put together what teens were looking for in Young Adult Fiction novels. And I realized I wanted to stand for human rights and integrity, no matter what.
My first destination was something I imagined as a thirteen year old. I wanted to impact youth in some manner. But I didn’t know how. Therein lies my first mistake- rather than going with the unknown, I filled in the answer. I wrote “teacher” in the blank. But I wanted to be so much more. I wanted to be freer than that.
Leader. That is what I wanted to be. But how? Why?
That’s where we all need to start. No, not the how. The why. The how will always be unknown and somewhat serendipitous. But the Why is our anchor. It’s how we move our story forward.
My Why was Resilience. I had “not come this far to come this far!” I overcame bipolar disorder, loss, trauma, a math learning disability (dyscalculia).
I found an editor for my book, which will be done in a few years. I spoke. I wrote about issues, first starting at Policy Mic. Realizing I was more a self help writer, I turned to other forms of freelance.
And with that, by age 26, I was “done” with my life plan and only needed to execute it. So I began doing just that. It had been completely revised since I was thirteen, and I learned to embrace the unknown.
I was a camp counselor and one of my teens confessed to me that she had been raped by her first boyfriend. She woke me up in the middle of the night crying while all others slept. I hugged her, told her it wasn’t her fault. And we talked to her parents in the morning. She had the option to go home after that but she looked to me and said she felt like staying. That I had somehow given her the strength.
If I had not been at the camp as a director for leader in training program, I would not have affected that life. I was only there because I thought I was going to become a high school English teacher. So somehow the dots still connected even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I had another Aha! moment at that summer camp. I had brought my laptop and began reading my book to a young teenager during a break one day. She absolutely loved it. I began to realize that this is how I wanted to reach youth.
I knew teaching was the wrong path for me longterm but shorterm, as a season it helped me give others hope. I knew teaching was wrong for me too when I was taking notes on how students reacted to novels in my student teaching classroom. And I began to build a story.
I say build because I had to create a world, characters, plots, subplots, themes, issues, motifs, symbolism and make statements. I knew that it would be right. But it would take years until I met my editor who is currently working and reworking it to be just right.
This path was not the path I originally intended. But my original intentions led me to be at the right places at the right time. It was an idea meant for a season of my life, not my whole story.
Many of you may be able to relate. We all have signs in our struggles that green light us to go a certain path. We all want to mold the idea of who we are meant to be into reality. We think when we are kids, we will have the same ideas about life when we grow up.
But the only thing constant is change. I had to learn that quickly and adapt. I did do some teaching since I had some courses in Education and student teaching in my resume. I taught kids with autism for a season. I taught preschool for a season.
Each season brings us a new lesson. A new love. Or a new life. For me, it was all three. The lesson was to trust the unknown, let my intentions wander when a season changes and love myself no matter what. I am not my circumstances, I am my character. I am who I set out to be, but also who I change into for real during the process.
This process takes might, takes vigor. But I did not come this far to just come this far.
And neither should you.