College/Making Decisions/My Life/Transitions Seeking God’s Will and Following Your Dreams by Emily Clare Burt “She be Trippin'” It was senior night at Mass and all of the teens in their caps and gowns came up to the altar. I was finally one of them, able to go up and state my name, school, where I would be attending college, and share some words of wisdom. Just a few years before, when I was a freshman, I knew I would announce my acceptance into a marvelous college and speak words of wisdom beyond my years. However, this night was quite different. One graduate after another announced the well-known school they would be attending in the fall, followed by some extravagant, fancy major I don’t even know how to pronounce. When it was my turn, I walked up to the microphone — in my high top converse — and said a little something like this: “Hi! My name is Emily Burt. I will be graduating with a homeschool diploma and to be completely honest, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life so I don’t know what my plans are after graduation. My words of wisdom are: ‘It’s OK to not know what you are doing for the rest of your life at 18 years old.’” I was quite proud of myself. Not so much when I tripped and fell off of the stage moments later. “Don’t Let Your Dreams Be Dreams” Our generation seems to be changing the norm of graduating high school, earning a college degree, and working at job for the next 30 years in order to pay off student loans. So many of us want a career that is sustainable and fulfilling. But as we find ourselves balancing all of our classes, major changes, and student loans, and are confronted by a lack of jobs that equally excite and support us, we start to feel suffocated and hopeless. We start to question everything and re-evaluate what we want. Here are a few things we can do when feel like hope is lost: 1. Your dreams do not always have to be your career. As amazing as it is to pursue a career you absolutely love, God also calls us to be responsible and wise with our money and talents. A career is not an end in and of itself; It’s a means to an end, meant to help us support and sustain ourselves and potential families. Sometimes our dreams and careers align with one another and that truly is a beautiful gift. However, if that’s not the case, hope isn’t lost. 2. Your dreams might not require a degree. Maybe your dream is to be a world renowned puppet master. However, just because the University of Connecticut offers a degree in puppetry (yes, this is a real thing), doesn’t mean you NEED this degree to achieve your dream. If your dream is unconventional and doesn’t fit into the “normal” college path, this shouldn’t hinder you from exploring different ways to achieve what God has placed on your heart. God has given you amazing gifts and talents and He calls you to grow them! It’s important to identify responsible and practical ways to reach for what you desire, even if they’re a bit unconventional. 3. Pursue what you want with what you have. Maybe you are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Maybe you’ve seen how expensive your hobby, passion, or dream might be. Maybe it feels like you shouldn’t even try because the obstacles laid out in front of you make it seem impossible. Nevertheless, God instills a desire within us to grow more into the person He created us to be. Though we need to be responsible with how we pursue our dreams, we cannot let it hinder us from deepening what makes us unique. Try to get creative with how you can learn, grow, and do the things you want to do. We live in a world full of opportunities for growth! Take advantage of them! 5. It takes time! Sometimes you don’t know what you want, and that is 100% OK! Discerning what God is calling to you in life takes time. Gap years are a great option to explore what you like and don’t like, your passions, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. Taking some time off of school before diving head first into a career-oriented degree program is a great way to give your mind a mental break from school but also get experience in the real world. Don’t rush and try to decide what career path you should take or try to pull a 5-year plan together if you haven’t quite figured out how you want to focus your time and energy. Give yourself time to work through your desires, goals, and dreams, and then make your career decisions. 6. Prayer, prayer, prayer. God wants what is best for you and , but it is our responsibility to take time in prayer to listen to Him. It is crucial to be quiet and empty our minds so we can hear Him in the silence. God uses those peaceful moments of prayer, when we are meditating on His word or simply listening to the movements of His Spirit, to reveal His plans. Sometimes He takes His sweet time to reveal His plan in order to grow us in patience and trust. Regardless of how long it takes, He will lead if we are willing to listen and follow. In this day in age, it is so easy to be overtaken by the stress and anxieties of the life laid before us. In those times when you feel overwhelmed, remember that Christ has laid down His life so that we may have an abundant and beautiful one ourselves. His strongest desire for us is to be unified with Him and His plan so that we may grow in holiness. Have peace knowing that He has a whole life of goodness planned for you, even if that plan doesn’t look exactly like everyone else’s, all you have to do is listen.