An article circulating on Facebook caught my attention recently because it trumpeted a message I think today’s young graduates need to hear as they struggle in today’s tough job market – the courage to live a life true to yourself.
“Five Top Regrets People Have at the End of their Lives” ran on AlterNet and told the story of how an Australian palliative care nurse was inspired to write a book about the top regrets of her dying patients (http://www.alternet.org/5-top-regrets-people-have-end-their-lives).
The #1 regret she reported was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” How many of us have had that challenge early in our lives? How many others could still correct their course if they had the courage later in life? I know that my loving father tried so hard to keep me on the path he thought safest for me, as a teacher, against my dream of exploring issues as a young journalist and freelance writer and later finding a different satisfaction in launching new ideas through public relations. I truly admire those friends or relatives who pursued careers in education when it was their dream, yet I’ve never regretted following my heart in another direction. And I’m still exploring, as I was recently certified in laughter meditation to counter all the stress in today’s non-stop news cycles, thanks to the internet. I’m now also enjoying teaching others the joy of taking time each day to laugh and meditate and credit a gifted trailblazer in that field, Pragito Dove (www.discovermeditation).
In fact, one of the reasons I fought so hard to find my own path was that I never wanted to be one of the adults I heard saying “if only” when they talked about their life. I listened to that phrase many times in my youth. I also have to thank the college friends who supported me in my early quest, especially my life-long colleagues Peggy and Alan Fisk, who continue to inspire me by forging new paths in journalism and who now encourage their amazing daughters to follow their own passions. I’m also excited that I can watch the next generation in my family find their dreams.
In this economy, the message of courage becomes even stronger, because it may be harder than ever to carve out the career that follows your heart – especially if it is as entrepreneurial as my path turned out to be. A lot of young graduates are struggling to find any work, so the temptation is not the same one I faced of the secure job or the risky one. It’s refusing to give up, searching for new paths, getting creative in getting to the ultimate goal. We need trailblazers more than ever with the challenges ahead for this planet. So find a way to follow your dreams, however circuitous the path, and enjoy the bumpy ride! And guess what, chances are any skeptics in your life, like my late father, will become your biggest cheerleaders in the end.