Operation College Exploration, Feature by Brandie Freely
This was the scenario:
I was graduating with a job as an executive recruiter at one of the top firms in Houston. My earning potential was tremendous. I was engaged and planning a huge wedding to an engineer with an amazing salary and the know-how when it came to saving for an early retirement. We had already purchased a house sitting on an acre of land. And as soon as we said “I do,” we’d move in and begin making it a home. We had both applied for our passports and were prepared to become world class travelers one summer at a time.
I thought I had it all together. Thought I had the perfect plan. I felt extremely accomplished.
And everyone agreed: It was the makings of a storybook life.
It would become evident later, though, that I wasn’t the storybook type. As it would turn out, I preferred to write my own story infused with plot twists and epic triumphs in love and life; not the typical textbook storyline.
But as the saying goes, ignorance is bliss…
And I sincerely did not know enough about myself at that time to realize the mistake I was making. I thought I was happy and ready to sign my life over, because I hadn’t considered the possibilities. Ever. I just wasn’t aware that I could consider something different for myself. Unknowingly, I’d placed limitations on my life by only imagining it one way.
I’m not sure why there was a mental block there. Maybe because I was particularly focused on relationships for as far back as I can remember. I can honestly say, even now, that I have taken little time in my life to truly explore myself outside of a committed relationship.
Within relationships, we tend to take on some of our significant other’s views and ways of life. There’s not much room left for self-evaluation. Clearly, you’re more concerned with the well-being of the relationship as a whole; not necessarily your own.
So, I really didn’t give myself time to figure out much about myself. If I could get time back, I would definitely dedicate it solely to myself. I would learn so much about me that I’d become obsessed with the possibilities of my life.
And. If I could… I would demand back the time that I put more energy into anyone other than myself. Every relationship that took more from me than it added. I want that time back.
Timing is Everything.
And it’s of the essence. And each moment you don’t carpe diem, you’ll have to work twice as hard to reinvent.
The four years I spent in college would be the ideal time to get back. There are some things you can only appreciate in retrospect, but I wish someone had sat me down, shook me, and made me understand how significant this time was. I wish I’d dedicated the entire experience to discovering who I wanted to become.
I could’ve spent summers in other countries, and maybe I’d be a citizen of one of them today, or speak another language fluently. I could’ve done internships in various fields, and maybe I’d be waking up to a job that felt less like work on a daily basis.
Instead, I’m squeezing my passions in where I can after work hours, and I’m screen-shooting images of Tuscany to post to my Instagram.
I’m exploring who I am 8 years after walking across that stage and just now considering the possibilities. Possibilities that are at least a decade old.
I’m discovering the dreamer in me and falling in love with the way the world looks from my new set of eyes. Everything is much more beautiful.
And maybe it’s not a new set of eyes, but eyes that are finally open.
Take advantage of every ounce of time you’re given. You can do that by spending enough time with yourself to have a grasp of what is best for you in any given moment. Of course, there will be moments when you’re unsure about what you really want. But when that happens, (again I say) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TIME! Slow down! Take it easy…
What I’ve realized in retrospect is how I rushed valuable time. I didn’t bask in every phase of my life. I didn’t take advantage of moments I could have used to discover who I wanted to become, so that I would be aware of the possibilities and know which ones I want to explore…
Don’t wait a decade after graduation to launch Operation Exploration. Consider and reconsider all the possibilities. Research and ask questions about things you don’t know.
And spend the most time with yourself. Invest the most energy into yourself.
Finally, remove any limitations from your psyche.
You’re free to be exactly who you want to be.
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