MiaIn talking to many of my friends, who have recently graduated from college as I have, it seems like life has become vastly different than it was a year or two ago. Some of us are sitting behind computer screens, working 9-5 (or, more realistically, 8-8). Some of us are running from field work to class to the library, chasing another degree. All of us are on different sides of the country, and sometimes world. But we all have one thing in common: the scary question…what the heck are we even doing?

Our big dreams and passions, the things that made our faces light up and our laughs the loudest, have somehow been covered with the smog of being a “grown up” in the “real world.” After carefully crafting and planning our magical futures since we were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” at the age of four, the day finally came when we had to put on our big kid pants. We walked into the real world only to find that world can sometimes actually be that fun-sucking, soul-crushing version of reality we were warned about and fervently attempted to ignore.

shineSo you’ve arrived. Hello, there. You are right on time. “On time for what?” you might ask. On time for today, for this moment. Look around. Welcome to where you are…you are not alone. Millions of 20-somethings have been here before you and millions more will arrive here after you. While it seems a little disheartening that this is the real world, just remember that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and you are still on the path to achieving your dreams, even if it seems like it is taking longer than you expected. Perhaps you have taken a detour or maybe life just isn’t as spectacular as you imagined it to be; that’s okay. Remember that it is just for now – unless you give up. Don’t let the rut consume you; don’t give up. Keep digging deeper. Continue to follow your heart and chase your passions.

Here’s the thing: Just as much as you don’t have the answers, neither does the girl next to you. But what we do have is the ability to share with one another words of advice, wisdom, and things that helped us through.

So I have a little gift for you. I pooled some of the greatest girls I know, all walking different paths of life, following different dreams, chasing different callings, and asked them the same question. Let their words resonate with you, and keep digging deeper, keep working harder, and keep chasing your dreams!

“If you could give a small piece of advice to another girl about following your dreams, finding your calling, and pursuing your passion, what would you say?”

“Finding your passion is letting go of the ideas you have in your head that keep you trapped, and listening to your heart instead. Follow what your heart wants and trust where it leads. Do whatever makes it impossible to sit still during the day, what makes your heart jump out of your chest with excitement and believe in whatever makes your life happy.” – Mia (Me!)

“Following my passion has never been a choice. When I talk about my calling, that’s what it is — a little voice that keeps on calling, nudging, prodding. The day I finally gave in and listened, it was like I’d been set free.” – Meg

“Finding your purpose or what you feel is “your reason” for being here is not easy. Self-doubt creeps in and life gets in the way at times, but you will keep coming back to your center. Doing “what you do” and positively affecting the people around you because you are where you should be, doing what you should be doing.” – Laura (My Mom!)

“Anyone who ever may have told you no – you owe nothing to them. You owe it to yourself to become the fullest, most authentic, and most amazing version of yourself that there ever will be. There is only one of you and you are imperfectly perfect exactly the way you are.” – Shawn (Get Smart GUY!)

“Finding your passion can be kind of intimidating, but in order to be successful you have to fear forward, not panic backward. Follow your heart and find a career that supports your passion and you will find happiness.” – Brianna

“Finding your passion is like finding a home, a place where your heart, mind, and spirit all feel at peace. It’s a place that compels you to be your best self.” – Stephanie

“When you find something that you are passionate about, it becomes part of your core identity, defines how you see the world, and directs your thought processes and actions. It may start as one thing and evolve into something greater. Trust this process and know that it will lead to many wonderful and eye-opening opportunities that will allow you to appreciate all aspects of your individual passion.”  Amy

“Be confident! Be brave! Be true! Be you!” – Alex

“Start with yourself, be okay with who you are, and love everything about yourself. That’s where you can discover what you authentically love.” – Alexis

“Make your own definition of success and find a way to be successful in your own eyes.” – Mallory

“Listen to your soul, for it’s always louder than your doubts.” – Dayna

“The hardest thing to do is to put yourself out there when there is so much fear of being rejected (in the job market, in the dating world, wherever). It doesn’t matter what your dream is or what you think your purpose may be, you HAVE to put yourself out there to make it happen. I’m an unemployed teacher, and the job market in Vermont is VERY competitive. I couldn’t even tell you how many applications I’ve sent, and how many came back with “your talents are commendable, but we chose someone else.” Damn. Ok. Now I have to try again. When you finally succeed (even if it’s only a part-time, tiny step toward what you eventually want) be sure to burn that feeling of success into your soul, because who knows when you’ll be able to feel it again. Let it be exciting, go out for drinks, make it a big deal. You deserve it simply because you put yourself out there, and that was hard. Dream big, but you have to start small, unfortunately. Every step counts.” – Emily

“It’s like running–just when you think you can’t run one more step, you push through that negative thought. Before you know it, you’re sweaty, tired, and sore. But you did it.”  Arianna

“You will end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. My mom would always tell me that. You can stress as much as you want about the garbage, and minute details in between but at the end of the day, you will end up exactly where you are supposed to be.”  Kristina

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