I always look back to the time in my life right before my college graduation, because one moment in particular will stick with me forever. I was attending a seminar where groups of graduates listened to professionals discuss what future employers will be looking for, as well as absorbed advice on how to succeed in the work force. One of the men on the panel told the students, “After graduation, you have two choices. You can either go to grad school, or you can go directly into your profession.” He then proceeded to pick students to share their plans upon achieving a degree, and most of them had the usual answers- law firm, marketing consultant, public relations specialist, etc.
I remember thinking how absolutely wrong this was. This is what students and young adults have been told they are supposed to do, and this is the life that has inadvertently been taught as the “correct” one. For some it is, but every one person is different. There is so much pressure to stay within these boundaries that are considered safe and normal, that we begin to feel our true passions and talents are not worth pursuing. What if I wanted to be a painter, a musician, or drop everything and travel the world? I know what I want, so why is everyone else telling me what to do with a life that only I have to live?
“If a man does not keep pace with his companion, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”
– Henry David Thoreau
I am not anyone too important, not really. However, I do have heaps of experience in going for what I want. If you feel like something is holding you back from pursuing the things you desire, please read on – I have a short story for you.
If you told me five years ago I would be living, playing music, and working as a journalist in Australia, I would not have believed you. I know the whole, “If you told me five years ago…” bit is a little cliche, but why do you think cliches exist? They exist because for the most part, they are authentic. Even just three years ago I was living in Texas, struggling in school with absolutely no hope of graduating, and dealing with a magnitude of personal issues that were holding me back from any type of progress. I felt I was being forced to get a degree, even though I really just wanted to play music. I felt the time I was giving to school was taking away from the time I could be progressing as an artist, so I dropped out.
Dropping out of school did not help, but in fact made things worse. Due to the stigma of being a “college drop out”, I spent my time out of school depressed and unable to work on my music. I was not being encouraged for my art, but instead was constantly being told by the people around me to go back to school because it was the responsible thing to do. There was no “light at the end of the tunnel” for me.
I remember the day that I reached my breaking point very vividly. I literally looked at myself in the mirror for an hour, assessing every little part of my face down to the smallest wrinkle under my eye. This was the day that I realized that I am a living, breathing, capable human being. I have one life. One life to be and do what I want. One life to enjoy, experience, and discover with. How lucky am I to have been given such an amazing opportunity, and more importantly, why did it take me so long to understand that? I know what you’re thinking, “Here she goes again with the cliches…”
Just hear me out.
I woke up the next day ready to change. I don’t mean I made the type of commitment to myself that people on New Years make just to drop the next month (like a gym membership), but a real commitment. Since I had already started school, I was going to finish. I was also going to get a good job, create a ton of music, and save money to move to Australia upon graduation.
By the next month I had two jobs, I was re-enlisted in University, and was sporting a brand new attitude that one-hundred percent contributed to me acquiring these things. Life was flying by and I had become a totally new person, and most importantly, all the productivity made me incredibly happy. Next thing I know, I am a college graduate with a one way ticket to Australia, and four studio albums under my belt. I am not kidding, it was that easy.
I am not writing all this down in order to shamelessly talk about myself, rather I am writing this to relay one important message to whoever may be reading this.
I trusted myself to finish school, and I knew I could trust myself to work hard at my two jobs. I trusted myself enough to know that a “normal” life was not for me, and that it was okay to want something a little different than most people. I trusted that if I started to get lost on the road less traveled, that I would have the strength to find my way back on track, or even better- pave a new way. I trusted myself to get over any speed bumps and handle setbacks with grace. I trusted myself to acquire the things I wanted no matter what it would take.
Now that I am living in a foreign country a million miles away from everyone I love and rely on, I trust myself to stand on my own. I know that if things get tough, they will never be so tough that I will shatter into a million pieces. Even if I do shatter into a million pieces, I know I can glue myself back together.
No one has control over the life I am living except for me, and you can take control of your life too. You know what you want, and you know what you need to do to get there. And if you don’t, trust yourself to find a way.
We have all been given a short and inconceivable time on this earth, so let’s make the most of it.
Bateau is a Melbourne, Australia based Trip-Hop/RnB/Hip-Hop artist as well as a DOPE writer and friend of DCWS. You can follow her on Instagram at #bateauofficial or at bateauofficial.wordpress.com