I loved being an English teacher. I got a rush from teaching writing and literature and a complete high when I saw that lightbulb glow brightly over my students’ heads. The only reason I stopped teaching is that I wanted to be home with my kids. Yes, a teacher typically has the summers off, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be the one to teach them, be with them, create memories with them. The funny thing is that as I stayed home with them, I started thinking about the dreams I have had my entire life. Some of my dreams came true, while others just kind of disappeared. I used to want to be an astronaut. Seriously. I dreamed about it all the time. Floating in outer space among the stars was the only place I wanted to be. I wanted to be a photographer. I loved taking pictures and seeing things differently than everyone else. I dreamed of working with models and going to beautiful locations. Where did these dreams go? Why didn’t I push myself to achieve them when I was younger?
It dawned on me that as I got older, I stopped taking risks. Instead of following my heart, I followed the safest path. But, something inside of me woke up within the past few years and I started following my dreams again. I wasn’t going to let my lifelong love of photography be just a hobby anymore. (I’ll let the astronaut dream go to the wayside because honestly, I stink at math and science!). I decided that with training and discipline I could be exactly what I wanted to be. I’m still learning, I’m still pushing myself. But I don’t compare myself to anyone else anymore. I only compare myself to the me that I was yesterday. I see the growth daily and get a rush when I have challenged myself and succeeded.
It’s okay to dream big and it’s okay to take risks. If the safest path isn’t the one that is going to make you smile from ear to ear on a daily basis then it’s not necessarily the path worth taking. Why not immerse yourself into being the best you can be at what makes you radiate with joy and happiness? I only wish that I would have realized this when I was younger. But I’m glad I realize it now. It’s never too late to follow your dreams and as long as you keep learning, keep pushing yourself, and keep an open mind, you’ll shine. Sometimes we stop dreaming because we are worried what others will think of us. As cliche as it sounds, remember that what anyone else thinks of you is none of your business! Someone has to live the life of your dreams. . .why not you?
I want to give this advice to the Class of 2013. They were the first class I taught. Little do they know, they taught me a whole lot, too.