Hi, I’m Jessica.
Some of you may know me, and some of you may have never heard of me. I live in the shadows, sporadically appearing out of nowhere to share brilliant, witty words, and amazing National Geographic-worthy photographs of cats.
Even though I’m hiding, I’ve always been here. I was part of this community from the very beginning – from the machete beginning!
During the first few months I went through a few different goals. My first goal was to lose weight; I remember it, because I failed. Then I was going to write a book, but I don’t know if I ever put pen to paper.
Eventually, I realized I was what I’d always been: an expert at failure.
A few vocations I’ve considered in the last thirty-or-so years: forest ranger, baker, veterinarian, architect, figure skater, ballet dancer, actress, famous author, truck driver, marine biologist (yes, I had, in fact, just watched Free Willy), farmer, archaeologist, librarian, zoologist, and the list goes on and on..
There are so many people who know EXACTLY what they want to do with their lives. Many of those people are you. Some of you know exactly what your dream is, exactly how you want to spend your life.
I envy you!
I’ve wandered around, lost and confused, for my entire life. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know my purpose.
Sometimes, while hidden in this amazing group of people, I feel like an impostor. Maybe I’m not supposed to be here. I don’t have a GRAND DREAM.
And, perhaps, you feel the same way.
Maybe your dream is unknown or undeclared. Maybe it’s buried so far inside of you, that you don’t even know what it is… YET!
Maybe you feel like an impostor, a fake, or a hypocrite. In the back of your head, a little voice is lying to you, saying, “You don’t belong here!”
Wait! Hang on. Don’t give up.
I want to give you some pieces of hope.
You may be meandering along in your life. You might feel like a leaf, floating along a river, going wherever the current takes you. As you float along, your answer may hit you in the face.
I don’t have all the answers. (In fact, I probably don’t have ANY answers.) I can’t tell you which way to go. But I can give you some suggestions. Some things that have helped me…
Keep your hands and your head busy. Keep your eyes open. If you have a handful of interests, spend time on them. Invest in quiet time with yourself. Think about your future and your desires. Go out and DO things. Go and experience new things. Live outside your comfort zone. (This is one I’ve been working on lately, and it’s been fantastic every time!)
Talk to people. You never know what’s out there until you GO OUT THERE.
Reach out for help and guidance from someone who has experienced your struggles. If you fight self-doubt, talk to your friends. They can offer unbiased, honest opinions about what you’re doing, and you might be surprised by the ideas that come to the surface in your conversations.
For those of you with experience, please share your knowledge. You affect others through us. You change the world through our lives too.
If you doubt your writing, write more. Even if you think it’s garbage, write.
If you doubt your art, create more.
If you have doubts about what you’re doing, do more of it! You will prove to yourself whether or not you are truly committed.
All dreams are not a straight line from A to B. There will be massive amounts of trials and errors.
Life isn’t even a straight line. Life is squiggly and ugly and messy and crazy.
I don’t have a clear picture of my dream; it’s not laid out for me in perfect calligraphy in a beautiful gold-gilded leather-bound book.
My dream looks more like a coloring book with pages ripped out, pages smudged and erased; and my crayons are most definitely broken! One or two pages are perfectly filled out, but most are incomplete, sadly, reminding me of all the places where I’ve given up way too soon. Many of the pages are completely blank. I can’t see them yet because I’m still stumbling around, wandering in the wilderness.
Your dream will always take you on a crazy ride. So it doesn’t matter if you aren’t “there” yet, or that maybe you don’t know quite exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.
What matters is that you are here, and you are working towards discovery. Don’t stop because you don’t know the end result.
It will be messy and confusing and heartbreaking. But, I promise you, you’re going to be amazing.
If you need encouragement and support, you’ll know where to find me.
*Jessica walks offstage amid thunderous applause*
*These words are part of a speech I wrote for the 2015 Launch Out Conference in Nashville, TN.*