As a teacher, I have a number of daily responsibilities: to ensure my students have the fundamentals of reading, writing, analysis, and critical thinking; to guarantee their mental, emotional, and physical safety at all times; and to broaden their horizons. While these are essential aspects of my job, they are not at the core; they are not the most important responsibilities, and they are not the rationale behind why I get up and do what I do every single day. No. Motivating, inspiring, and empowering my kids to believe in themselves and to help them find and follow their passions—to be eager—that’s what drives me.
I recently had a conversation with one of my seniors who could not decide between two colleges. She felt torn between not only two schools, but also between her own dreams and those of her parents—a difficult decision at any age. After she expressed her concerns and her pro/con list for each school, I attempted to encourage her and remind her of the importance of listening to her gut and following her dreams and aspirations…the importance of trusting her eagerness. “What drives you,” I asked. “Do that.”
Just a few days ago, my students and colleagues were graced with a similar message…a great reminder at any age. On Wednesday, April 2nd, musician, artist, activist, and entrepreneur, Derrick Ashong, graced our chapel’s stage and inspired each and every one of us to be dragons, not princesses; to be our own heroes, and not sit idly by and wait for someone else to rescue us. And the reality is that we’re all facing challenges every day that make it difficult to be heroes: physical challenges that hinder us from moving and emotional and mental challenges that make it difficult to express ourselves. Sometimes these challenges make it almost impossible to even take a single step toward turning our dreams into realities because they paralyze us.
How can you be your own hero if fear or stress or disappointment or discouragement distract you and drive you? How can you be your own savior if you’re too afraid to take that leap and fly? How can you believe in yourself when the world around you fills your head with doubt? When the world is filled with naysayers and critics, how can you rise above? How can you follow your passion when there are so many people who say “you can’t” or “you won’t”? Well I say, you can and you will.
There was something placed on the inside of you: a dream, a thought, a word, a mission, a goal, a business venture, a skill, a belief, an idea, a spirit, a song, a dance, a talent, a destiny. Regardless of what anyone says, let the voice on the inside speak louder than those outside voices. Be passionate, be excited, be enthusiastic about life, about learning, and anything else that inspires or ignites a fire within you, and like your radiance, don’t let that fire burn out. Be dragons. Inhale that fire. Embrace it. Become it. Let it carry you from day to day. Don’t be afraid to be electrified by books, by numbers, by planes, by music, by writing, by law, by sports, by a particular school that may or may not be what your parents want, by anything. What’s burning on the inside of you, that passion, let it move you. Let it pull you to the place you are meant to be. Listen to it. Trust it. Believe in it. Be a dragon and soar high, save yourself, and most importantly save the world.