Dear Readers, please welcome Laura to our blog. She’s a friend, a Bennie, and all-around awesome. We’re pretty positive you’ll agree, and we’re happy to have her here. Enjoy~
When Tierney and Aly first asked me to write something for Say Entirely, I was both honored and panicked (I believe the words “Oh shit” went through my head at least once.) Don’t get me wrong – I was excited, but as someone who has spent the last two years sitting in a cubicle every weekday from 8-5, I didn’t know how many thrilling anecdotes I really had to choose from.
And that’s when it hit me. The same stuck feeling I had as I tried to think of topics to write about was the same feeling that welled up inside of me when I thought too hard about my life at this moment. That “I know my life is overall pretty great, but I wish I was completely enamored with it” feeling that I believe most people go through in their years after college.
And then I asked myself this very scary question: “Even though I am generally happy, why am I not fully satisfied?” So I decided to make a list of the times where I had that “my heart is welling over with emotion” feeling that I think we all are constantly striving for:
- San Francisco – Picture this: a small group of college students brought to San Francisco’s Tenderloin district to serve and learn more about the large homeless community there. We stood in line to get our oatmeal in the morning, and helped with anything from painting the walls of the charity we were working with to participating in creative writing groups with members of the homeless community. We experienced a demonstration of true love when a guy in our group literally took the shirt off his back and gave it to a woman asking for money on the street, and were reminded of the complexity of their situation when we found needles in our shower at the charity. This trip is the reason why I can’t just pass homeless people on the street, and will always respond and have a conversation with them. I learned that those who have next to nothing are oftentimes more compassionate and understanding than those who have the world at their feet.
- Breaking Free – My senior year spring break I decided that I wanted another experience like the one I had in San Francisco. So I signed up for another service “trip,” this time right here in St. Paul and focused on sex trafficking. Much of the time was spent trying to hold back tears while learning the victim’s harrowing stories of the abuse they endured from a young age, and how they ultimately ended up being trafficked. The overall tone of the trip, though, was how strong and resilient women are. I was constantly amazed by the victims’ tenacity through acts of unspeakable violence. This trip is why I participated in the women’s march, and why I will never tolerate demeaning remarks towards women (or anyone, for that matter). It changed my outlook on my favorite city forever, and taught me to always look out for the women around me.
- London: I’ll keep this one short and sweet: I studied abroad for 4 months in one of the greatest cities in the world and made new friends that quickly became family, pretended to be a grown up working through my first internship, and didn’t think twice about finding my way to new cities where I didn’t know the language. I grew up a lot, both in courage and in perspective, and I think my heart broke a little when I left.
- Quitting: I know what you’re thinking: How can quitting something give you that feeling? Sometimes you have to let go of things when they aren’t making you happy, and that is exactly what I did with my first love: running. I will never regret being a competitive runner for 11 years, as it brought me some of my best friends, favorite memories and reduced anxiety (not to mention the ability to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted). Quitting helped me realize that life was about more than my time in the 5k, and that there were other things that I was good at.
- Tinder Date: You’re probably laughing at me, but here’s the gist: I broke my promise to myself to never go on a date with a boy from Tinder, and I’m sure happy I did because the only boy I decided to meet up with has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible.
You’re probably wondering why I dragged you through all of these examples when you may not even know me. So here’s why. While writing this, I realized one thing: The most uncomfortable times in my life have brought me some of my greatest epiphanies. Being out on the streets making sense of what victims of homelessness and trafficking were going through was incredibly difficult at times, but it changed the way I think about these people forever. Opening myself up to new opportunities by quitting running, going to London and even going on a Tinder date were honestly pretty scary, but helped me change the way I think about myself and figure out who I truly am.
So while I sit here, stuck in a rut, unsure of where my next steps will lead me, here are the things I do know:
- Being too complacent is a true crime in this life. Stepping out of our comfort zones and continuing to move forward are what is going to lead us to a life filled with passion.
- I may not know what I want to do for the rest of my life, but all I know is that I hope it terrifies me, excites me and fills me up all at once.
My name is Laura. I’m 24 and I don’t know what the hell I want to be when I grow up, which sometimes causes me great frustration and other times liberates and excites me. Cheers to our 20’s, where we can either take risks and make the most of this crazy life, or play it safe and just try to hang on for the ride. I may not have detailed, well thought out goals now, but what I do know is I am always going to aim for the path of growth, the path of new perspective, and the path of compassion. And I trust that that will lead me to more eye-opening, perspective-shifting experiences, and ultimately, exactly where I was meant to be.