An Open Letter To All College Students

A couple of weeks ago I watched my baby brother walk down the aisle at his high school graduation. While I’m not sure how mature I am (seriously are we ever really grown ups?)  watching the speeches at my brother’s graduation gave me a new perspective.

While I know many of the challenges they are going to face in college and beyond (as I’m encountering many of them myself), there’s something awe-inspiring about their can-do attitudes and youthful optimism. And also a bit depressing when some of these kids have already done more than I will ever do. Seriously, one of my brother’s friends already runs a successful nonprofit at 18. At 18, I barely knew how to turn on the oven. Sadly.

Anywhoo. As I get older and more engrained in the real world work culture, I see more and more friends and colleagues giving up on their dreams. Be it for a significant other, their kids, or just because they think they are too old. That’s nothing short of disheartening.

We need to channel and preserve our imagination, scrappiness and can-do attitude that we had in high school and college.

Some may disagree. Others may call it naive. But I feel this is what will separate the dreamers from the doers.

Anyone can dream big. But unless you act on it and take a few risks, dreams mean nothing. You will be just another grown up, who has settled for a comfortable life where you are simply going through the motions on autopilot.

Once you get on autopilot mode, your blinders get larger and your willingness to take risks gets smaller. You get used to being comfortable. Then months turn to years, years to decades. Suddenly you are middle aged with kids who need to go to college, a mortgage, debt and some new health conditions. You realize that all your dreams and ambitions have gone by the wayside. It’s going to be much harder to achieve them -if not nearly impossible- as you get older.

I’m not sure about you but this absolutely terrifies me. I don’t want to settle for just an okay life because it’s safe and comfortable.

It’s seeing kids that in all due respect are only seven and eight years younger than me that have reminded me about that.

The only thing scarier than following your big, scary dreams from high school and college is choosing to abandon them for the safe and comfortable route.  As my favorite high school science teacher and mentor would say, life is meant to be lived outside of your comfort zone. 

What’s your big scary dream? And how are you going to pursue it? Please share in the comments below or email me directly.