By the time I was 18 years old, I had gone through a few phases of mistaken "dream jobs." At one point I had even imagined myself as a librarian...
But when I started college, I was confident that my future was in political journalism. I loved watching the news and I desperately wanted to help raise awareness about what was going on in the world.
One of the coolest things about attending High Point University was how many different speakers they brought to campus. I mean, I was shaking hands with Condoleezza Rice and learning from innovative minds like Steve Wozniak.
Unfortunately, one of the innovative minds also burst my latest dream bubble. He was a correspondent at FOX News who came to speak to our journalism students.
"If you really want to be a journalist, you have to have that fire in your belly. You have to be willing to wake up at 3 AM, or in the middle of a hurricane, to go chase that story!"
I remember thinking, "Uhhhh... I don't have that fire in my belly. I have no desire to wake up at 3 AM or go chase the story. What am I even doing here?!" Now I was stuck with no dream career and no idea what I was going to do after graduation. But then I got an email...
Earlier that year, I had received an alumni scholarship. Since many of the people who contributed to this scholarship fund would be on campus for Alumni Weekend, the school thought it would be a nice touch to have recipients talk about how the scholarship helped them.
I decided not to just talk about how the scholarship helped me financially (I was working on campus and over the summer), but about how it helped me personally. This was the first time I really told my story.
I talked about losing my brother unexpectedly as a freshman and how, at one point, I wanted to leave High Point to be closer to my family. I was honest about the hard days and how I didn't know what I wanted to do after college anymore. I told them that this scholarship reminded me that someone else had faith in my education - faith that I would graduate! - even on the days I didn't believe in myself.
Shortly after, I was asked to speak at a another event. Next thing I knew, I was invited to tell my story to over 1,000 staff and faculty members.
I'll never forget the moment I got back to my car after that speech and turned my phone back on... emails were pouring in with support.
"It was truly an honor to hear you speak today at our staff meeting. I am so proud to work with students daily just like you. Your story brought tears to my eyes..."
"Thank you so much for sharing your story! You make me so proud to work at HPU!"
"You made me cry like a baby, but they were all tears of joy."
I couldn't believe my life was inspiring to people! To me, it was just "normal" and I didn't realize how moving my "normal" might be to others.
Then I got asked to be the commencement speaker at a school graduation, then to come to a college campus, then another campus and another. My inbox kept overflowing with kind messages after every single one.
I realize now that it was never about the industry that I wanted to work in. It wasn't about being a librarian or a journalist like Rory Gilmore. I wanted to help people; I wanted to do something that would make an impact and change lives.
And even though I didn't start this journey wanting to be a speaker, I'm so grateful I accidentally stumbled into a passion that lets me help others in so many ways.
Maybe you're still in your librarian phase or you're *positive* that journalism is for you. Regardless of what you think you want to do, get to the root of your why. After all, it's not about the job, it's not about the industry, it's about the feeling it gives you.