did college set us up for failure?

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song: sun by sleeping at last

an old college friend asked me tonight if i thought college set us up for failure — we were told we would be great, we were told that we’d be world changers, we were told that we’d conquer the impossible. but for many of us, when we left college — we got slammed with reality and life led us down paths we didn’t expect. not everyone wanted to believe in us, not everyone wanted to take a chance on us, not everyone wanted to give us an opportunity.

i have a couple thoughts and they starts with this:

an instructor can teach you how to swim. he can train you, build up your confidence with his words, and teach you how to be good. but, at the end of the day, when you dive into the water — you’re the person who has to swim. no one can do it for you. when the ocean waves come, one after another, you’re the one who has to dive under the wave and hold your breath. and you’re the one who has to find the surface, where water meets the sky, and take a deep breath and keep on swimming.

in these moments, its up to you to take the training, wisdom, and words of confidence and use them to keep swimming.

the same goes for life.

we can be taught, trained, and built up — but it’s up to us to create our lives.

too often, we wait for others to believe in us, to take a chance on us, to fight for us — when, gosh darn it! we need to be believing in ourselves first and foremost. we ought to be taking a chance on ourselves before anyone else does. we ought to be fighting for our dreaming harder than anyone around us.

the fact is, life doesn’t always move according to our timeline. but just because life isn’t moving at the pace that we want it to, doesn’t mean that our dreams aren’t going to come true. it means, we’re still being shaped. we’re still being strengthened. we’re still being developed. we’re still building character so that we’re strong enough to hold our big, wild, extravagant dream when it comes. 

but, too often— we quit. we give up. we stop— right before life can ever hand us our dream. we get tired of waiting, of being faithful, of being diligent, of being patient, of seeing others experienced fulfilled dream — so we give up. and decide that life isn’t fair and God must have forgotten us— all because life isn’t listening to the timeline we made.

but, being honest — i think it’s less about a college / parent / job setting us up for failure, life being unfair, or God failing us — and more about us just not being patient enough.

years ago, my mother gave me some of the most “mom, i don’t want to hear this — but yeh, you’re right!” advice. she told me, “throw out your timelines and be okay with God’s timeline.”

our dreams don’t have an expiration date. but, too often, we throw them way before we can ever have a beautiful collision with them.

it’s time we own our actions. it’s time we throw out our timelines. it’s time we man up, dig our feet deep into the earth — and say “i’m here! and i’m not leaving or giving up!” it’s time to start fighting for our dreams despite the obstacles, challenges, and circumstances we face.

the only thing that separates those who are living extravagantly full lives from those who are living with a mourning of unfilled dreams is that the first never gave up — they stayed faithful to the dream against all odds.

so, no — i don’t think that college failed us.

i think college gave us the tools and it was up to each of us to go out into the world with courage + determination to make a mark on the world. we were all kids when we left college — of course, we walked into the world with rose colored glasses thinking that making a difference in the world was going to be some form of “easy”. it takes more than passion. passion is emotional— it’s fleeting. it takes grit. valor. determination. while life may throw us a few curve balls, it’s our responsibility to guard our hearts and to not allow our souls to become jaded. it’s our duty to hold on to hope and believe against all odds. 

the beautiful thing — it’s never too late. grace is always there cheering us on. waiting for us to take our place in the world.

whoever you are, wherever you are — don’t buy into the lie that life has failed you, that God has forgotten you, or that life is unfair.

you were created for a purpose. your dream was not given to you to tease you. it’s something that you were meant to live out. don’t give up on yourself, your dream, or your ideas. don’t stop fighting for what you want. life will be good to you, God will be faithful to you— but you have to stay faithful to the dream, too.