This week I was asked to speak at our local community college to a writing class. A friend of mine from college works there and she asked me to come in and speak. I was very excited, I love public speaking even though so many people do not. I also love speaking to students, although this was my first time speaking to college-aged students. Usually I speak to upper level elementary students or to middle school students.
I was asked to speak to them about how writing has influenced my career, but the prompt really got me thinking. There was so much more I wanted to tell these students before they leave their college life behind and go out into the “real world.” There was so much that I wanted to share, things I had already learned that I felt important to tell them.
My speech was about 20 minutes long, maybe a half hour. I had a power point presentation to go along with it, and I brought lots of samples of my writing with me as well, some hands-on things for them to look through.
I talked all about my decision making process in college, trying to decide where I wanted to go in life, what I wanted to “do.” I told them about my days as a teacher and my desire to be home with my children once we started our family 12 years ago. I talked about running a home-based business for eleven years and about how I happened upon my job as a reporter and photographer at a school event three years ago next week. I talked about winning my journalism awards and how fantastic that was, about writing books and being an author and how fantastic that is as well.
However, I what I tried to emphasize the most and what I hope they took away with them was this:
Don’t think you have to do just one thing in your lifetime.
Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself over and over again, should the need or desire to try something new arise.
Doing what you love is so important.
In this day and age, with the economic times as they are, think out of the box. See what else you can do with your skills and your hobbies, even if it’s not exactly what you went to school for or what you thought you wanted to do for a career.
Don’t be afraid to say yes to something new, and to see where that takes you. Opportunities are around every corner.
Don’t be afraid to put your family first, if that is something that is a priority for you (as it was and still is, for me.)
And most importantly, writing is so important. If you can write and write well, even if you don’t love it the way I do, you can do anything.
I hope my message got through to them and I hope my presentation makes a difference for at least one of those students.
It makes me wonder though, if you were speaking to them, if this was your one chance to inspire this next generation, what would your message be?