You can go to college, study hard, and be absolutely focused on what makes you happy. That is more than okay; focus is one of the most important parts of the hustle. But know this: do not confine yourself to that dream. You cannot grow in this kind of echo chamber.
When I graduated from college, I knew in my heart that I would be back in my native Chicago, writing and getting my MFA in poetry. Nothing could sever me from what I thought as fact. I started working in a factory, people were getting choked and fired around me, but I keep the blaze going. I clung to my home own and MFA, tattooed them on my heart. I shut out everything else during this time; nothing phased me.
This is where I went wrong. When it came time to marry the man of my dreams, move to the Gulf Coast, land my first salaried job, and buy my first car, I was numb. These things were great, but not the MFA, not Chicago. I turned inward in a way that froze me in time. My former classmates progressed through life, moving, loving, publishing—I was stuck in my heart, in Chicago. Every poignant moment or precious trinket could not compare to what I could have should I return to my hometown. My favorite foods turned to mush in my mouth, and new sensations barely registered. The love of freedom and fun dried within me and with them my ability to create suffered. No matter how much I longed to write poetry and build my portfolio, the thought that I had not already done these things pressed the air from my lungs, paralyzed my fingers.
I trapped myself in the cage of “what if,” and it bled into every area of my life. I sucked it up at work, I couldn’t keep friends, I second-guessed my decisions—everything I tried withered away because all I could think about was going back to school. I daydreamed more than I did the work. I resented bright sunny days, and rainy ones alike. To me, it was worthless if it wasn’t that damn city or degree. To be honest, I’m still struggling. I have moments of brilliant clarity, but I was effective with my indoctrination. Some days, I still cannot see the good, and it is mostly my fault.
You need to see the goal, but you also need to realize there are so many paths to take. The possibilities in this world are truly endless should you believe it so. I failed at this and fell into a low period of unproductivity and vicious self-deprecation. Don’t do this. Explore your neighborhood if you just moved there. Learn your limits by stretching them thin. Keep that dream close to your heart, but allow others to take root there. Be selective with your thoughts. You will change and evolve over time no matter what you do, but you can shape and manipulate your tastes to maturity instead of letting them leave you hollow.