Each season leads us through different hallways, with doors opening and shutting left and right. Opportunities arise, leading you one way, while others shut, bringing you to a place of confusion, wondering if you ever went through the right door in the first place. This summer was an open door for me. A door I walked through, that only led to many others. Other people, other opportunities, other lessons, waiting to be approached. Some doors stayed open, some closed, each of them teaching me something new. Today I want to share with you all some of the important lessons I learned this summer. They challenged me, grew me, and motivated me to move forward in life, ready to take on the world. I hope they do the same for you.
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1. Nine to Five: Work Becomes Your Life: I’m sure most of you have been around work-a-holics. Maybe it’s your parents, maybe it’s your spouse, or maybe its you. I’ve always been a person that valued balance, but the reality is, before this summer, I had never known balance in the context of a full time job. Working as a social media & communications intern this summer gave me a glance into that nine-to-five world. During the day, I would pour myself into my work & the people around me. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was lounge around & not think. Anyone else get in that same boat? I began to realize that finding the motivation to do anything after work is hard. Not to mention, by the time you get there, the sun is almost down, & your day is pretty much over. When I wasn’t working, it was common for me to be thinking of ways to make the company better, different approaches to take in our social media, etc. It was clear to me that work didn’t end at 5.
This summer, I learned that very easily, work seemingly becomes ‘your life’. Now, what you do with that truth changes everything. The key to embracing this truth is purpose & passion. Now, if I hated what I did, hated who I worked for, and hated the people I worked with, I would inevitably be very dissatisfied with my life. But, if my career was backed with purpose beyond myself, and passion for what I was doing, working 40-70 hours a week would be out of joy, contributing to my life’s purpose, instead of obligation. My biggest take-away from this nine-to-five truth is that ‘work becoming your life’ doesn’t have to be a big, scary thing you spend all your time trying to avoid. It is something to look forward to and strive toward. I would hope that my career is something covered in purpose, and fueled by a passion specific to me, my talents, and my giftings. And from this point on, one of my biggest goals is to never settle for a career I cant find purpose and passion in.
2. Embrace Failure: Failure can be scary. Starting something, knowing you have a 50/50 chance of succeeding or failing, is scary. Disappointing yourself and those around you is scary. Putting yourself out there only to potentially risk rejection is scary. Do you know what’s even scarier? Never starting something that would have been a huge success, never walking in your full potential, and being 10 years down the road, wondering what could have happened if you had just done that thing that was burning in your heart to do.
We as people spend so much time avoiding failure. It’s a natural, positive, sharpening part of life integral to growth, maturity, and learning. But for some reason, it’s like a mirror you’d rather shatter than see your own reflection in. For me personally, my struggle with embracing failure and small beginnings is directly attached to comparison. “But I wont be as successful as them,” “But I don’t have the equipment or resources they have,” “But I don’t have the skills they do”. These thoughts cause the biggest battle within me to pursue the things I love.
What I learned this summer, specifically with this blog, is that if I avoid failure, I’ll never see progress. If I don’t put myself, my skills, my passions, on the table, I will spend the rest of my life wondering what would happen if I did. Dreams are like that. They require faith, vulnerability, and the risk of rejection & failure. But when they are put to the flame, they are refined and ignited. So, I challenge you: to step out in what you’ve always dreamed of doing, rebel against fear with vulnerability, and just start. We need failure. It shapes our success.
3. Go Places You Shouldn’t Be: Networking. This summer, I learned a lot about what that even means. Being in LA was a dream, because most of the bloggers, artists, designers that I’ve followed for years live & host events in the area. Most of the time, these events are an open invitation. Being only 40 minutes from downtown LA, I went to all the ones that I could. Usually, on my own. Every time there was an event promoted via instagram or facebook, I would contemplate going, decide to go, and try to find someone to go with me. Sometimes, I went to events with friends, but there were a handful of times it was a go-alone-or-don’t -go-at-all situation. At the end of it, I had to battle my own insecurities, and just GO. Every time I went to an event like this on my own, I was blown away at the people I met, the doors that opened, and the opportunities that arose just from being present.
4. Invest In the Person You Want to Become: This summer, we were challenged to listen to a Ted Talk called “Why 30 is Not the New 20” by Meg Jay. I highly recommend it. One thing that really stuck out to me in this talk is a thing called Identity Capital. She went on to challenge us twenty-somethings to “invest in something that will add to the person you are, as well as the person you want to be.” I feel like I’ve always been intentional about investing in my present self, but investing in my future self was always something I left for the future to figure out. Hearing this talk challenged me to find ways to invest in the person I hope to become. It’s like investing in your own dreams, knowing that there will be a return in the end! Meg Jay challenged me to start my adulthood. To “not be defined by what I didn’t know or didn’t do,” but rather, “be defined by what you do right now”. For me, the most practical way for me to invest in my future self was to invest in that camera I’ve been eyeing. Sure, I wont exactly be able to see the monetary return right away, but over time, I know I’ll be glad I decided to spend a little savings and start doing things to shape who I desire to become. So, gain some Identity Capital. Invest in the person you want to become.
5. Better Than My Best Dream: The process that led up to my internship in Southern California was really & truly such a season of learning for me. Learning that God believes in me, learning that he opens doors no one can shut, learning that he desires me to dream with Him. It was a beautiful, humbling, faith building process. And even though, as I sat on pier 52, I knew this summer was completely a product of his goodness, there was still something missing. I was in my favorite place, doing something fueled with love, purpose, waking up each day knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be, but still, there was a void. Why? As I asked myself this question, I understood the truth that nothing can satisfy completely outside of being fully in his glory after this life. Even being in the very center of his will, his love, his heart, there will always be a lack due to the fact that we belong to a place outside of this world. This really put into perspective my dreams, my life, the course I was running…it measured up the weight I put on what I do here in this life versus the God I know. Nothing compares to knowing Jesus. No matter how big and extravagant a dream I think up, even while he brings that dream to fruition, He is infinitely better.