Back in Richmond a few weeks ago for a wedding, I stopped at the office building of my first “big girl” job. I remember looking out across the urban landscape from the balcony fresh out of college, recognizing the opportunities that flourished in the city below and being energized to take on the world. But there were a lot of lessons that naïve and worry-free, wide-eyed 22-year-old would learn along the way. Some were difficult but all were critical in getting me to where I am today – a place I know would make that young girl proud.
1. Don’t let the opinions of others dictate your destiny. You and you alone possess the power to unlock your full potential; the unwarranted words and doubts of others hold no merit. Don’t look at the naysayers, and those who try to put you down, as hurdles but rather as propellers pushing you forward to your greatest achievements.
2. Don’t spend so much time looking forward that you forget to live in the moment. If you’re always on the go, planning your next adventure, you might miss whatever is right in front of your eyes. Each moment we have on this earth is a gift – feel it, embrace it – and don’t let it slip through your fingertips.
3. You need to let go – of people, of things, of circumstances dragging you down. It can be hard to separate from certain possessions, memories or relationships because they seem so engrained into who you are as a person but letting go of the old makes room for the new – and that might just be better than anything you’ve imaged before.
4. Listen. In a world full of noise, drown out the chatter. We’ve each taken different roads to get to where we are but there may be others who took similar steps in the days and years before you, and those individuals may have a takeaway that will help you on your journey. Lend an ear and you could learn a valuable lesson. Take a walk to the beach and listen to the water crashing on the shore. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and listen to their life story. Listen to your friends. Listen to your preacher. Listen to your body. And most importantly, listen to your heart.
5. Radiate kindness. It’s contagious and it will always come back around. Be the source of a smile on someone else’s face. This one applies not just to people you know, but those you don’t as well, as they have the potential to pass it on to others you may never touch.
The world is big, but so are your ambitions. Let no one, including yourself, stand in the way of your dreams.