Approaching my final semester of college, I can say I've made a step forward in recognizing a glimpse of my life calling. But despite this realization, my life calling didn't arrive in my mailbox during move-in day. During the first two weeks of my freshman year, I was a Biology major walking up and down Music Row, handing out portfolio packets door-to-door. (This popular alibi is familiar among Nashvillians, but funny enough I am not a musician.) Clearly I was over-zealous about succeeding the potential of the average 18-year-old, and since then I've changed my major to match my ambitions.
Upon declaring a Mass Communications degree, I also filled my schedule with a vast amount of campus involvement. Sadly, I never registered for Stress Management 101, (although I would highly encourage this if you consider yourself an overachiever) but I quickly learned how to do well in few areas rather than performing "ok" with several responsibilities. Looking back, each decision led me to another friend, mentor, internship and opportunity. Like any other college student, I've taken different paths of learning that shed light on my passion of telling stories. One of my most recent opportunities was a phone interview with country superstar, Wynonna Judd. She told me about her career story and why a strict formula for success does not exist.
"I always considered myself a product of blazing my own trail," says Judd, who recalls carrying her guitar around like it was a part of her own body. And to those who didn't understand a dreamer's perspective, Wynonna responded, "God has given me the gift. I know I have it. When you see me on the Opry, you'll be sorry."
Right up front, Judd declares she does not give advice, but loves to tell people about how she overcame her fears and reached beyond her aspirations. "People have to figure it out for themselves. Follow in front of you what leads you to do the right things," she says. "It could be calling someone and apologizing, writing a letter or asking your manager questions."
"Very few people truly understand what it means to be creative," Judd explains. "There is no dreamer closet in high school." Creative minds do not prefer intense structure, taking risks to overcome societal norms and assumptions.
But if reaching for your dreams simply means "following your heart", how do we become proactive in bringing meaning to our heart's desires? In light of her book Coming Home to Myself, Wynonna says discovering a passion true to your originality involves surrounding yourself with "like-kind" people who are loyal and trustworthy. "It's just like building a house. You'll need a carpenter, an electrician," she explains.
But choosing your "like-kind" is a risky process to make sure you've made the right match. "You know about all these sites like EHarmony and relationship.com? I wish they had 'musicbusiness.com'," Judd laughs and says meeting with the right people takes a lot of prayer. Calling them "spokes in the wheel of music," Judd defines each long-lasting relationship as a support system that challenges you to flourish.
If you are unfamiliar with living and breathing creativity, just know it demands a lot of energy. Judd says artistic dreamers need to take time out in order to lessen overwhelming feelings. "When I'm home, I live simple. I take a walk, listen to my family," she says. "Sometimes it's best to just stop amidst the chaos and just be." Judd's words present a daily reminder that we can't and were not born to do everything.
Even if you aren't a creative thinker, I am sure many of you are aiming for something bigger than yourself. The comforting part is you don't have to be someone else. While my undergraduate career is ticking, my role as a student is boundless. Wynonna Judd is a legendary dreamer to whom I can be encouraged. Each step we take matters, but what you do with the time in between is crucial to forming meaningful relationships. Until my final steps, I'll be writing and documenting stories to share with those around me.