The Advice that Changed Everything

I had one class to go in my MA degree and the question of what I would do with it left me utterly lost. The simple advice given by a friend reset my perspective and showed me the path forward…

Photograph of a crystal sphere sitting on a rock by the seaside. The sunrise is captured in the heart of the sphere as a bridge extends off into the distance.
Photograph of a crystal sphere sitting on a rock by the seaside. The sunrise is captured in the heart of the sphere as a bridge extends off into the distance.
Photograph by MartyNZ on Pixabay

In October 2017, I was getting ready to wrap up my master’s program in English and was wondering what I was going to do with the bit of paper I would be earning in the not-so-distant future. I’d always loved to write and a degree in the discipline was certainly going to come in handy, but a clear idea of where this would take me had yet to manifest itself.

A list of professions followed me around in my purse, clogged with frantic scribbles and defaced by irate cross-outs.

I was mired in a dark hole of uncertainty. Perhaps I was even a little panicked at the thought of the big, bad world lurking just beyond the finish line I was hurtling toward. In the grand scheme of things this was really just a small bump in the road of the rest of my life. In the moment, though, it was a major existential crisis!

Then I sat down with a friend at work and asked for his advice. It was really an act of desperation to pull him aside, but it turned out to be the best thing I could have done.

(Props to him, by the way, for keeping it cool in the face of the frazzled creature sitting across from him, begging for some hint as to how to face The Future.)

Not only did he not use the typical throw-away line most liberal arts majors get beaned with — “Well, you could teach, I guess” — but he gave me the one idea that altered my perspective on what life could hold for me…

“Do something creative.”

Yeah, I know. That really is it. But man, those words made my whole perspective clear as crystal.

I’d thought of freelance writing off-and-on for years, finding the freedom and creativity an exciting prospect, but cowed by the thought of living without the support and benefits of a traditional job. I have responsibilities, bills, and what the heck will I do about insurance?! The “reasonable” voice in my head always quashed the notion handily.

My friend’s words put a strip of duct tape over the mouth of the mental nay-sayer and, for the first time, I saw the path set right before me that led to a brave, new life.

Suddenly, the world of cubicles didn’t seem so necessary — a requirement of success. I really could leave my reliable, well-paying job to take the leap and chase a dream … if I wanted it badly enough. True, it would all be on me, but the reward would be as well.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Vincent Van Gogh

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