Hello there, youngster! It's a fine stage of life, the one you're in now. You have your head in the clouds. You march about with a confidence that borders on arrogance; with your thoughts plastered on your forehead for anyone to read: I will defeat the odds. Your is mind set on a road everyone tells you is impossible, and you couldn't care less. They are wrong, you say. There has never been a youngster quite like me. I am special.
I know this because I was you not so very long ago.
I have some bad news.
All those people saying you will fail? They just might be right. They were right about me, in any case. With all the confidence of a 19 year old romantic, I thought I was living a love story for the ages. What a silly little fool.
I can hear you, you know. You think I'm cynical. You think I'm bitter. Just because it didn't work out for you doesn't mean it won't for me, you're thinking. And perhaps you're right. Maybe you are one in a million, like you believe.
But before you flip on past this post, let me tell you one more thing: Even if they're right, even if you're doomed to fail, chase your dream anyway. Marry your sweetheart. Take that year away from school. Start your garage band. Be an entrepreneur. Be bold. Be fearless. Be a dreamer.
Follow your gut. Forget the naysayers. Take the leap of faith.
And if, when you leap, you fall flat on your face, know these things:
1.) You are in excellent company. The world is full of people who threw caution to the wind, only to find themselves in a sour pickle. We have fantastic stories to tell.
2.) You have accomplished more in failure than some people do in a lifetime of success. Following your heart takes courage, and the things you'll learn along the way are worth their weight in gold. You do a lot of growing up when you're swimming against the current.
3.) You have no reason to be ashamed. Discovering that you aren't, in fact, invincible, is rough. For me, it was downright humiliating. But it is far better to have failed than never to have tried at all. You did your best. You will not lie in your bed at the end of your days and wonder the most wretched question of all: "What if...?"
4.) Do not give up. There are a thousand, million, billion things left to discover. There are still yet adventures awaiting you. Mourn if you must, but pick yourself when your tears have dried. The world is big enough to allow at least one more attempt at defying the odds.
Having my heart broken was wretched. I won't say that it wasn't. But the things I learned from loving so fiercely and falling so hard made it worth while. I can truly say to you: Given the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a single thing. I'd run away again and again, because it has made me so much stronger, so much less afraid.
That doesn't mean that, even nearly three years later, I don't still feel pangs of grief for what I lost. Or that I don't face challenges now that I wouldn't have otherwise. Of course it still hurts. Of course my path is altered. It wasn't easy, rising from the ashes of my marriage. But every morning I wake knowing that I have faced the worst possible outcome of my choices, and survived. This gives me the courage to dream again.
I know in my heart I will be a dreamer until the bitter end. I hope you will be, too.
(PS - Did you miss me?)