Confession: I’ve been called an overachiever, an idealist, and ambitious.
When I was a kid, like all other kids, I dreamed of being all sorts of things: A spy, a superhero, a farmer (not entirely sure why I aspired for that one, but I did), a Jedi, and other relatively normal things. But by the time I was a teenager, I was dreaming of being a politician who would become President of the United States and bring peace to the chaotic world. I actually practiced my acceptance speech and campaign speech in my spare time. My first year of college (I was 18) my club t shirt number was 2028 – the first year I could run for president.
Well, long story short, I am not currently on track to become president. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies and I am three semesters away from finishing my Master’s degree in Theology. While I suppose I could still run for president in 11 years, I also got married to a wife who very passionately rejects the idea of me being a politician. And just in case you were wondering, my wife’s input is extremely important to me, so her veto to politics means no politics for me – and that’s ok!
So is it ok for people to shoot high and hang on to slogans like “the sky’s the limit”? Or should they abandon such ridiculous ideas? Is it ok for someone else to be content as a retail worker their whole life? Are people bums for living without ambition?
I have certainly had a lot of life changing experiences in the last three years – graduated college, got engaged, got married, moved 12 hours from family, stopped working at a job I had worked at for 6 years, and the list goes on. And all those experiences have taught me something very important: Enjoy your present life, look forward to your future, but don’t spend your present life only dreaming of a future that may or may not be a reality.
There is a lot to be said for enjoying the moment- enjoy that cheap cup of coffee, enjoy your favorite song coming on the radio on your commute to work, enjoy the bird chirping in the morning, enjoy the old games you have and the old movies you love. I have a 1999 Camry that treats me well, and my wife has a 1993 Cutlass Supreme that has no A/C – but guess what, they serve their purposes and I can go on enjoying life. I don’t need a new car or even to fix up all the old problems in my car. I am content with what I have.
I was a straight A student for 6 years – this past year of grad school concluded that journey as I got 3 B’s and 2 A’s in my last two semesters. I am on scholarship that requires a certain GPA and I fretted about it my first year here. But now, I know my capabilities and the upcoming classes and I can focus on bringing up the GPA when the time comes, but worrying about it all summer does no good. So what if I am not the perfect student or top of the class? While that was important to 17 year old Caleb, 23 year old Caleb knows better: I would rather have Chipotle with my wife, watch three episodes of The Office, study for two hours and sleep for eight hours and get a B than forfeit that for an A. At least for the time being, that’s where I stand.
So if you are a parent who is pushing your child to their limit so that they can “achieve their potential” – I beg you to let them enjoy the movies with their friends and stay out late sometimes. If you are a student who is soon graduating or looking for a new job or new school to go to, and you are convinced your resume must look perfect – please grab Taco Bell with a friend and talk about good times and relax. If you are a perfectionist – well, this blog won’t change anything for you, so just keep in the back of your head that there are people who love you and accept you for who you are and not who you think you have to be.
So shoot for the sky if you feel you must, but enjoy the land as often as you can. And if you are tired of shooting for the sky, then cast your gaze earthward and smile that the rest of the world is here too.
May the dragons you face this week be friendly, and may you conquer the fearsome dragons that fly too high in the sky. Peace to you until next time.