College/Making Decisions/My Life/Teen Life/Transitions Dreaming Like God by Nayeli Alvarez One of my favorite things about telenovelas (Spanish-language soap operas) is that through all kinds of turmoils, drama, and plot twists one thing is always consistent: each character has a purpose and is the hero of his or her own story. This is easily seen for the protagonist because the story is told from their point of view; but each side character is also the hero of their own story, even if their story doesn’t get as much screen time. Our own life is like that. We are all the protagonists of our own stories and each of our lives have a specific plan and purpose: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope, and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). We are all carefully designed by God, but sometimes we stray from the path He has dreamed for (and placed before) us and make decisions based on the desires and dreams of others. As a child of immigrants, this is something I constantly struggle with — and maybe you struggle with, too: I knew the sacrifices my parents made when they came to the United States so my siblings and I could have a better future, and when the time came for me to decide what career path to take, I was torn. I was afraid I would come off as ungrateful for their sacrifices and efforts. They had risked so much to come to this country in hopes that my life would be different from theirs, more “successful” than they had been. My mom would tell me, “Why don’t you study medicine? You can become a pediatrician! You work so well with kids.” “Or a lawyer since you’re so good at arguing,” my dad would say. They both wanted me to pursue low risk careers with a stable income, but my heart was guiding me elsewhere. Praying it out I knew very well that I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars and countless hours working to obtain a degree for a job I wouldn’t love, so I turned to prayer. I continually asked God what it was that he was calling me to do, but I did not get an instant answer. It took a lot of prayer and discernment to see how God revealed His plans. I had to do a lot of soul searching; I had to hear how God was calling me based on my deepest and most innate desires. I had to identify what drove and motivated me. I had to find what I was truly passionate about and ask God if that was what He was calling me to. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with stories. I knew that deep down my dream was to entertain others through storytelling, whether it was written or visual. Through lots of prayer and discernment, God slowly guided me toward a Catholic university that focuses on film, particularly inspired by St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists.” At first, my friends thought I was crazy due to the cost of a private school and my parent’s not being able to afford it. Although I knew it would be expensive, I also knew there would be a way if it was part of God’s plan. I decided to apply and anxiously waited to hear if I was accepted. During that time, I prayed that God would open the door for me if it was truly part of His plan for my life. I also prayed that if it wasn’t part of His plan, that He close the door and guide me where He wanted me. A few weeks later, I received my acceptance letter… I couldn’t believe it! I knew deep in my heart that this was an important moment in my life and I was confident that it was part of God’s plan. The fact that it was an absolute dream come true made it that much better. To my amazement, I was also notified that I had received a scholarship that would help cover a large portion of my tuition. God is good! Breaking it to mamá and papá Although I was extremely happy to be studying for the career of my dreams, I was also scared of disappointing my parents. I hadn’t even told them I applied to a private Catholic university, much less that my heart was guiding me to study art! I was afraid that if I didn’t follow the path I knew my parents wanted me to take, they might think I was ungrateful for all of their sacrifices. I was terrified that my parents would be disappointed in my for pursuing my dream to study film. But I also knew that if it was truly part of God’s plan for my life to evangelize through storytelling, I had to listen to the call He placed in my heart. I once again turned to prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help guide my words. When I finally built up the courage to tell them, I was completely taken aback by their reaction — it was the total opposite of what I was expecting. They weren’t disappointed or hurt by my choice; they were happy for me. All this time I was so afraid of letting them down, but the truth is, all they wanted was for me to be happy. Living out your God-given dreams Fear can often blind us from truth, and the truth is, decisions made out of fear are rarely the right ones. At the end of the day, most of our parents just want us to be happy. Yes, they want us to be successful, too — but not the kind of success that is only measured by how much money you have. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about desiring financial stability, but if you have a true passion and choose a career based on potential income instead of the joy it will bring you, your faith in God may be lacking. Trust in God. The passions and desires in your heart, especially if they come from a good place, are there because He placed them in your heart to guide you. God doesn’t measure our success by titles, money, or material possessions; He measures it in love. Believe in yourself and your dreams. God gave you the ability to dream, but He also gave you the necessary capabilities to make those dreams come true. Trust in Him and ask Him to reveal His plans for your life, step by step. Don’t be afraid of what that path may look like, He who created you knows what’s best for you. As for me, I’m still figuring out His plan for my life, but I am continually walking in the steps He lays out before me.