As I sit here in my room, moved back in with my parents, and having left college a week ago, I have never felt so, as Google definitions says: “open to injury” in my entire life. For most people there is a deep seated fear in the term vulnerability, this type of natural instinct that sets in, like we are zebras grazing the grasslands waiting for danger to approach us. I mean Google did define it was the ability to be open to injury, and the idea of being injured is not palatable to most people. We could all look at vulnerability this way, we could see it as something dangerous, a feeling that should be avoided, a sensation we want to toss out the window and then go sit back down on that large couch of comfortability, but it is this idea of being open, fully open, and the potential to be injured that most people overlook. The more I sit here, my friends many miles away, moved into the guest room of my house, the more I realize I have never felt so happily unsure in my entire life.
As a twenty-two year old, my path was planned for me the past four years of my life, summarized by athletics, classes, and the much needed squeezing in of social activities. I knew exactly what my next day, week, month, and year would look like, and I became comfortable with that. I began to see things before they happened to me, tests that would come, books that would be read, mojito night acquaintances that I would run into. Now don’t get me wrong, this sense of patterns and reliability was nice, and it allowed me to not have to think about what was to come next, because what was to come next is the question every single person asked me my last month of college, and to have a plan was easier than saying “I don’t know” and getting practiced responses from people who did have a plan. But now, looking ahead and knowing that nothing is mapped out, that plans are not set in stone, that there are no more mojito nights (not too sad about this actually), and that I don’t even know what tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year will bring, I for once feel the power of choice.
So often in life we are drawn to the idea of stability- financial, marital, etc- but with this idea of stability, we fall into a pattern, a comfortability, a pre-conceived idea of someone else. I have watched friend after friend apply and receive jobs for things that I know they will not wake up for every morning excited to jump out of bed for. Most of you may think this is unrealistic, the ability to be excited to go to work every morning, but it is, and maybe then it is not longer considered work. Now I did not say you won’t be tired, that my friends would be a lie, but to be passionate, to be excited, to be driven, that is within reach. I have seen it everyday with my parents, and because of that, I am a believer. We are all guilty of at least one time in our lives doing something because someone else wanted us to, because of fear of disappointment, fear of failure, or just plain fear. But why? Is fear that bad? Is failure really the end of it all? The answer, I can honestly tell you, because I have failed many times and I have faced fears, is NO. Fear in itself when met, opens our eyes to what we have not seen before, the perspective we have not viewed the world in, or as Robin Williams showed us, the desk we have not stood on. To jump out of that plane, to ask that person out, to tell someone you love them, to tell your parents you don’t want to do what you have been doing, and to even touch a spider, these are all fears, and if face, WHEN faced, show you things about yourself you didn’t know before. And to be honest, failure is inevitable, so why were we taught it was something to be looked down upon? We will fail, we will fail a lot, and maybe after failing a lot we will fail some more, but at least we tried. At least we learned something about ourselves. At least we put ourselves out there.
At this age, the world is open to us, fully open, and it will be our choice of what we want to do with this open space. Do we want to follow the path that we have seen, that we know every step to, that we often times think about and question, OR do we want to walk and follow what we all have inside us, that yearning to make a change, to play that music, to write that book, to ask that person out, to take that class, to try out for that team, to start over. I say, take the road less traveled. I have often times noticed that when you come to that time in your life where you are stuck with that internal and external pull, the pull between choosing what others want and think you should do and the pull to do what you must do, the universe will help you do what you must do. This may sound cheesy, and many of you may stop reading after this or roll or eyes or believe me to want to convert you to something, but in reality, this is true. When you step outside your comfort zone, when you put yourself out there, when you follow whatever it is- the passion to paint that picture, write that letter, quit that job, change your major- you will meet people, you will talk to people, you will read about ideas, you will think of ideas, you will do new things, you will fail, you will succeed, and in about a month you will look back and wonder why you were ever comfortable with being comfortable.
As I said before, we are so young, and we must stay hungry. The world is ours to take and we all have the potential to make a change, be someone, and do something, but it is our decision to follow that. As we choose day by day to do what we love, we are in turn inspiring others to do the same. It is a large network of connections we are making, actions that are inspiring, words that are encouraging, and possibly writing that is making a difference. The world is open, now its up to you.