"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde
As I'm sitting here perched by the window on the sixth floor in my third-year dormitory, I'm reflecting on all that has happened during my time here at the George Washington University. And quite frankly, within this past year alone - it's been a lot; this engagement with the Huffington Post, attending this incredible university, the creation of my app, Shortly, my brush with the television show - Shark Tank - just to name a few. But I can't seem to justify this spontaneous reflection that's occurring within me at the moment. Perhaps because next month I'll be turning twenty and - with that - comes an immense appreciation for all that life has became.
But here I write, gazing onto the cobblestoned street below with this immaculate understanding that along with the millions of twenty-something undergrads - this is the literal crossroads of my life where dreams become reality. I mean, the thought that everything that I've dreamed of becoming since I knew what the word meant has essentially arrived. And although the ambiguity might be quite scary, I've learned from this past year that once you allow your intentions to rule your action, everything will be alright. It's the golden rule for the lost and downtrodden.
And even more so, this is the new frontier.
What college has taught me is that the real world may be intense. It can be scary with a couple of metaphorical dark alleys here or there, but you never have to walk down them. If you always continue to shoot for the sky and hold onto that unbridled optimism, your intention will be validated. And nowhere better than my future alma mater in the George Washington University have I learned to rise above the winds of change that surround you, as difficult as it may be.
This morning, I actually grabbed an iced coffee at the coffee shop beside my university's newly renovated library after going on my daily sunrise run along the Tidal Basin -- and I just couldn't help but marvel at how much the campus has transformed since my arrival. Buildings that were once vacated are now majorly renovated with a freshly new design. It's just simply astounding. And much like my university, a clear transformation of who I was two years ago has occurred as well. I may not know everything, but what I know for sure about this lifetime is that our dreams define the end goal of each era in our lives.
As a freshman, I didn't have the greatest roommate in the world and the parabolic neon lights from rush events never enticed me. But my intention was never to be popular, it was to fulfill my calling. And while I've long departed the trappings of the antiquated Midwestern lifestyle, I've been able to sustain the unbridled, green-behind-the-ears Ohio optimism that I was always raised with. Maybe I've just been brainwashed by the youthful inspiration featured in all those '90s teen movies that my parents would frequently watch well beyond my bedtime. Or maybe I've always innately believed that it was better to be an individual. No matter the source, what I know is that there really is no greater shortcut to fulfilling your dreams than being yourself.
Don't believe me quite yet? Well here's a short story of the past year that still seems like a dream in itself:
Amongst what seemed to be the worst social freshman year ever, my roommate and I didn't talk much, but when we did talk we discussed weather. So to eliminate this unwanted dialogue, I began looking through the App Store for a weather app that would tell me what to wear. I couldn't find one. I then reached out to a hundred college professors to create it for me. They told me that it couldn't be done. I then reached out to programmers so that I could create it. They also told me that it couldn't be done. Tired of being denied, I decided to teach myself. I did so in three days. A month later, my app was downloaded in over 100 countries around the world. The story gets picked up on a small media circuit. The story then reaches the desk of Ariana Huffington, who sees it and emails me to write for the Huffington Post. This then leads to greater media attention in the tech world. And on a quiet evening on this very campus in Washington, DC, I receive a phone call from ABC Studios in Burbank, California.
Did you get all that? If not, the lesson is quite simple: When you begin to be yourself and become all you were meant to be (even if you are the underdog), dreams that you could have never imagined become a reality. You really never know what life has to offer you.
None of us do.
Befittingly as I'm finally putting the final touches on this article, I notice that the streetlights are in full effect and dusk has arrived. And as my eyes sweep their gaze towards the night sky, I know confidentially that my stars are coming closer to aligning in a perfect array. The anxiety and confused emotions that I once had are all oblivious to my destiny - to any of ours. Because that moment where we take final walk across that graduation stage is closer than ever. I can see it now.
Tywan Wade is a junior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Read more about his time at the university in The George Washington University, The Best University in the Country.