One year ago today, I decided to follow two of my life-long dreams: going to graduate school and living in Paris. It was a long time coming.
I first had the idea to go to grad school in Paris when I was finishing up my undergrad. But it had taken me seven years to get my Bachelor’s degree and at 25, I was quite a bit older than most new graduates. I had some ambitious career goals and felt spending another two years in school wouldn’t give me enough time to get where I wanted. Marriage and kids would mean taking a break from the workforce in my early 30s for sure. And besides, I didn’t need a graduate degree to work in advertising. If anything, it would make landing an entry-level position more difficult.
So I put it off.
Ten years later, I was still single, didn’t have any kids and had accomplished everything I’d wanted in my career. The thrill of my work gave way to routine. I was bored and longed for new challenges. I again thought of my dream of grad school in Paris. This time, I got as far as finding the school and the program I wanted. But tuition alone was unbelievably expensive. I couldn’t imagine ever being able to afford it.
So I abandoned my dream altogether.
Another ten years go by. I knew I still wanted to go to grad school. Teaching at the university-level has always been part of my long-term plan. But I could do it in Austin. And while I may never live in Paris, an extended visit would be almost as good. So I made a plan to spend a summer in the City of Lights.
Then on this exact day last year, I found myself both extremely sick with the flu and having to work on a major client project with an urgent deadline. Frankly, I was pissed. I should have been enjoying my holiday, or at the very least in bed nursing my illness. I had started having some serious, stress-related health problems months earlier and having to work while sick was not what I needed to be doing to myself.
Angry, I started day-dreaming about my upcoming trip to Paris that summer. Anger turned to sadness as my dream of grad school in Paris crept back in. Suddenly, my summer trip seemed like such a waste. To be in Paris for three months, a quarter of the time it would take to complete the Master’s program I’d wanted, and right next to the school I wanted to go to…it felt tragic.
And then I heard the little voice: “What’s stopping you? Why don’t you just do it? It’s not too late.”
That was the moment I decided to make it happen.
I started the application process that very moment, lined up my references the following day, and took the GRE three days after that. Within two weeks, I had updated my résumé, written my statement of purpose, requested my undergrad transcripts and submitted the application.
I did everything so fast there wasn’t time to talk myself out of it. I didn’t let myself think about it too much. I didn’t want the fear, uncertainty and doubt to creep back in. I had no idea if I’d get in, and no idea how I’d pay for it if I did. But I decided to worry about all that later. I would just take it one step at a time, and trust if it was meant to be, the Universe would make it happen.
Today, I am living in Paris, working on my Master’s degree, and living a life-long dream I thought impossible.
Life should be challenging and exhilarating. But it shouldn’t be a constant struggle. Borrowing from an old Irish blessing, I have always believed when you’re on the right path, the road will rise up to meet you.
For me, it has. Which is why I know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
It’s never too late to follow your dreams. May you find your path, and may the road rise up to meet you.
What are the life-long dreams you’ve yet to realize? What’s standing in your way? Have you found your path already? How did you find it and how did you make it happen? Share your thoughts and let’s inspire each other. I’d love to hear from you!