A Decade in the Future

I’ve always hated the question, “Where do you see yourself in ___ years?”

I understand the purpose of the question. It’s an attempt to see if people are long-term goal setters, if they are willing to commit to a future. It’s a test, and I’ve never liked tests very much.

So, where do I seem myself in a decade?

Honestly? I have no idea. Every time I’ve tried to predict the direction of my life, I’m so far off that I’d need a map to get back on track.

There are things I know about my life, about myself and the way my mind works. There are things about me that will not change. I will probably always love tacos. I’ll always think of both Texas and Arkansas as home. I’ll keep on cheering for the Yankees, even if they never win another World Series.

But 10 years is a long time, and for all of the things about me that will stay the same, there are so many other things that will change.

I can only start working towards a goal and hope I achieve it. I can only think of what I want to change about my life right now and see what path that decision leads me down. Ten years could be the difference between who I am now and who I’ve never even dared to imagine I could be; or it could mean that I’m just 10 years older and most of that wiser.

So, as for the question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”, the answer is:

“Who knows? Look me up in 10 years and find out.”

A Decade of Dreaming

I’ve been considering the idea of a decade. In many ways, 10 years seems like a long time. After all, in the past 10 years, I have gotten married, worked for four different employers, lived in three towns, and finished two degrees. Yet, it seems like those 10 years have passed very quickly.

You know how, when you’re a kid and someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, your answer has no limitations? Because, when you’re a kid, you can’t imagine a world in which everything isn’t possible. When I was little, I wanted to be everything. A teacher, a Broadway star, a famous musician, a novelist, a poet, a princess, a dancer, a preacher, and anything else I could imagine.

I’m only one of those things. And only part-time.

Does everyone feel this way? Does everyone look back at the dreams of their youth and long for that feeling of hope? Do we all think of how silly it was to think all of those things were possible? Do we all pretend that we don’t still have a secret wish in our hearts to do all of the things we’ve always wanted?

I do.

There’s a commercial about a little girl who is constantly told that she can’t do this or can’t do that. The last image is of the girl looking at some academic challenge, before she puts on lipstick and walks away. I wasn’t that little girl. I was told and truly believed that I could become anything I wanted to become. My parents have always been very supportive of my dreams and goals.

It’s the rest of the world that put me in a box. It’s the people I know, and those I don’t, who have unintentionally aided in crushing my dreams.

When you tell someone you are writing a novel and they make fun of you, you stop talking about writing novels. Eventually, you stop trying to write them because you feel so discouraged.

So, stop it, world. Stop telling me that I am limited. Stop telling me that I can’t fulfill my dreams. Stop telling me that:

I could never be a Broadway star. I’m too old to start now.
I could never be a full-time musician. My voice isn’t perfect enough.
I could never be a novelist or poet. My stories are too plot-driven.
I could never be a princess. They don’t just hand those crowns out to everyone.
I could never be a dancer. I don’t have the right body type.
I could never be a preacher. No one would listen to me.

You’re wrong.

I may not be a Broadway star, but I am always on the stage.
I may not be a full-time musician, but you can’t stop me from singing.
I may not be a novelist or poet, but I’ve got a great story to tell.
I may not be a princess, but my Father is the King of Kings.
I may not be a dancer, but I still move to the beat.
I may not be a preacher, but you won’t stop me from sharing the Truth.

I am a dreamer, and I’ll keep dreaming and hoping that the next 10 years will be even better than the last.

You should, too. Don’t let your circumstances limit your imagination. Hope for something bigger. Dream the impossible. Believe in miracles. Share your story. Today could be the beginning of the best decade of your life.

A Decade of Learning

For the past decade, I have been a college student.

As I wrote that sentence, I had to stop and calculate to make sure that it was correct. It was. Mostly. I’ve taken a couple of single semester breaks along the way. Aside from that, I have been in college for 10 years.

I feel a sense of “wow” knowing that for the past decade, I’ve been focused on school. On one hand, I’m amazed that I survived. At times, it was frustrating, difficult, discouraging and I wanted to quit. Yet, I was somehow able to persevere (with a lot of assistance from others). On the other hand, I feel like there were some wasted semesters which, if I had handled things a bit differently, could have been used to get finished faster. It probably shouldn’t have taken me 10 years to finish my two degrees. But that was my journey, and I took it knowing it would take time. To think of it in terms of a decade makes it seem like an enormously long time. Now that it is over, I feel a sense of accomplishment that I never imagined, and 10 years seems like barely any time at all.

Surprisingly, I am already starting to feel like something is missing from my life. I don’t have any classes for which to study. There is no longer a pending comprehensive exam to cause me stress. I am not searching bookstores and buying new notebooks for the fall semester of classes. (Though, there may be some of that, since I will be teaching a few hours.)

Yet, there is something, a feeling, maybe even a longing, to continue. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but when I am sitting in a classroom as a learner, I am content. There, surrounded by others who love literature as much as myself, I can speak as I wish, without fear of being mocked.

I don’t know what the next decade holds for me. But, I hope there is more learning. I hope there are classes to take and new books to discover. I hope there is rhetoric and poetry and prose. As long as I can be taught, I will always be searching for something new to learn.

So, what about you? What do you want to learn today?