Step Up to the Plate

 baseball

As a kid, I remember my Sunday afternoons being dedicated to baseball. It’s my dad’s favorite sport. If you want to make my dad smile, just mention anything baseball related and he will talk your ear off for a good hour. My best friend is also an avid baseball lover. We both agree that she will more than likely marry a baseball player. In high school, I was even friends with the entire softball team. Even with all these baseball ties, I am not a baseball fan.

There is one cool thing that baseball has taught me though: the importance of stepping up to the plate, i.e. having courage in the face of fear. The twenties is such a period of newness. You could be in college, where you meet new people, study new subjects and travel new places. You could be a college graduate in a new city or at a new job. Small fish, big pond, anyone? Maybe you’re single and looking to start a new relationship. The twenties are extremely fluid and full of new things.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“You can’t hit a home run, unless you step up to the plate.”

With all the newness that the twenties presents, there is an opportunity for me to respond with either courage or fear. But here’s the thing: If I never choose to step up, to take that new job or introduce myself to a potential new friend, the opportunity will fall by the wayside. I have to be willing to step up to the plate. I may miss or strike out, but hey, I’ll never know until I am willing to try.

There’s a really big world out there, full of new opportunities and chances for you to take. Don’t be afraid of failure. Guaranteed you will mess up at times, but practice makes perfect. Put yourself out there and be willing to take risks, even if it means failing big. Because the only way to win big is to take the chance of losing. You’ll never know until you go. You are only in your twenties once. So take a few risks, make mistakes, learn from them and keep going in the direction of your dreams.

– Stephkt

A Time for Everything

One of my best friends moved to California this week. She will be going to grad school at California State University, Long Beach. I couldn’t be happier for her! She is such a go-getter and a hard working person. She is AMAZING, to say the least, and has inspired me since our college days of leading a nonprofit together and working on a magazine. She is going after her dreams. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

But (there always is a but)…….there is a bittersweet part of watching my friend move off to California: The fact that I am not with her. You see, I too, have had the dream of moving to California for a long time. Not for the glitz and the glam or the “Hollywood” scene, but because the profession I aspire to work in, film and magazines, is a thriving industry there. I have been told that if you want to get in the game, then you must go where the game is played. For me, the game is being played in California. My desire to be there only grows stronger and stronger with time. Something in my gut tells me that is where I am supposed to be.

IMG_8155My friend Erica’s first photo after arriving in Cali

Like attracts like. Just like my friend is a go-getter, so am I. I don’t believe in sitting on my butt and waiting for my dreams to come my way. I believe in working my tail off and earning them. So why didn’t I move to California then? Well, I had every intention to pack up my bags and move with my friend come fall of this year, but every time I would try to take a step forward, there was something stopping me. Something was missing.

You may think, “Maybe you were just afraid?” Fear? Yeah, I have definitely felt fear before, but I have learned to feel fear and go after my dreams anyway. I may feel fear but I do not allow it to stop me. I felt fear when I moved to New York City the summer before my senior  year of college. I felt fear when I moved to Minneapolis the year after I graduated. So fear was not my problem. Yet, there was something missing that I needed to have before I could make the move to California. Peace. I did not have peace. I could not put my finger on it, but I just knew that it wasn’t the right time.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Be patient: Take a lesson from chess. Sometimes when you are young everything seems so immediate and emergent. It’s usually not. It’s one thing to see a move you want to take. It’s another to be able to wait until the right time to take it.”

Sarah Hall, CEO of Harley & Co.

I know what I want to do. Write. I love to tell stories, other people’s stories, my story. I want to use media, specifically magazines and film, to bring hope to people. I am a storyteller. Writing is my gift. I want to use it to help someone else. The place I know I want to be in to pursue that dream is California, but what I realized is that California isn’t the only place where I can pursue my dreams. While I am waiting for my time to come to move west, I can pursue my dream wherever I am at in the meantime. I can work hard and make the most out of the opportunities in this season of my life and work diligently and persistently to get to that next season.

The truth is, you can have a dream on your heart, but sometimes, the timing isn’t always right. That doesn’t mean give up on the dream. It simply means to keep working and honing your skills until your time comes. So when your window of opportunity does finally come, you will be ready to take it.

I still plan to move to California. But until then, I will be content. I will work hard and keep writing and honing my craft. I will keep taking magazine opportunities as they come and see them as practice under my belt. I will be rooting on my friends with the loudest voice, as they pursue their dreams. When my time to move to California comes, I will be ready and guaranteed I will be better for having waited. There is wisdom in not only knowing the right move to take but in knowing the right time to take it.

As a twenty something, I hope you are encouraged today to relentlessly pursue your passions. Work hard. When you get knocked down, take from it the lessons you can and keep going. Do not feel pressured to rush into a career or to take a position just because it seems like the adult thing to do. Be honest with yourself and figure out what is best for you. Have the courage to get up and go after your dreams, stepping out into unchartered territory. But also have the courage to wait. Be brave enough to stay when something doesn’t feel right. Have the courage to be still until you know what’s best for you. Have the courage to wait until it’s your time. And when your time finally does come, take it.

“Genuinely brave people not only have the courage to take action, they also have the courage to wait when they need to.” Joyce Meyer

Here’s a song to keep you encouraged while you wait: Daley- Those Who Wait

IMG_20131124_135517Erica and I reunited after a long time apart!

MeandEricaSome of my favorite memories with Erica

-Stephkt

Success and Friendship

Isn’t going after your dreams the drive that keeps most of us going? Actually achieving those dreams is just the cherry on top of the sundae! What if you got to see your dreams come true alongside your best friend? I got to interview the duet known as Alaska and Maddie from The Voice earlier this week. Alaska, who will be turning 20 in three months, and Madi, who recently turned 19, are at the beginning of their music careers. They have the potential for a long, successful career ahead of them, but what I found most interesting about them was their friendship.

In it’s most pure, simplistic form, friendship is what makes life sweet. It adds to every moment, even the hard ones. Having someone to share things with is the greatest gift, and these two girls definitely have that. Throughout most of my time with them, there was nothing but laughter. These two have a sisterhood that shows in their witty banter, the unplanned moments when they spoke in unison and the warm embraces they shared.

Alaska and Madi hail from the great state of O-o-o-oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. The two have been friends since middle school age and have grown close through their love of music. They first started singing together during their time in Oklahoma Kids, an entertainment organization for children. The two were not always as fond of each other as they are now. They actually did not get along at first because of a BOY! Fortunately, the two were able to overcome their differences. The boy didn’t stick around very long, but the two have remained the best of friends.

SAMSUNG

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”  Charles R. Swindoll

 What I loved about my time with Alaska and Madi is their genuineness. As twenty somethings, it is so easy to get caught in the rat race of chasing success. It can be easy to forget the important things. Though these girls are early in their career, they seem to have a strong grasp on the important things. One of which, is their friendship. Success is a great thing, but it is even sweeter when you have someone to share it with.

Keep chasing those dreams, twenty somethings! My hope for you is that you have people to share with you in your success. People to laugh with. People to make fun of you when you take yourself to seriously. People who remember how far you’ve come. People who want to see you go further. People to push you to grow. People to encourage you when you meet setbacks. These people are the best of friends. These are the people you want to share the ride with. After all, life and career success are so much sweeter when you have someone riding shot gun!

-Stephkt

Go with Your Gut

“Follow your gut. ” How many times have we heard this saying? I know I have seen it on more fortune cookies and bumper stickers than I can remember. Funny thing about cliches and overused sayings is that there is often much truth to them.

I recently had an experience where this saying proved its weight in gold. I am 23 years old and have not dated in 3 years. Saying all that to say, it was a big deal when I recently had a crush on a guy after what seemed like the longest, dry spell of dating. My friends even got excited for me! Actually, I think they may have been more excited than I was! Just the idea that my heart had healed from a past relationship and grown strong enough to hold feelings for someone else, seemed miraculous.

crush

Let me tell you, this was E-X-C-I-T-I-N-G! I think I was walking on cloud 9 for literally weeks straight. And I was okay with that. Sort of. I felt uneasy about having feelings for a guy just because that’s my personality. I am strange. I do not like not having control over my emotions, and when I saw this guy and kept getting that butterfly feeling, it made me feel nervous. I felt like a middle school girl who gets excited every time she sees a boy she likes. A harmless, juvenile crush. It was sweet (in a cheesy kind of way).

Hit the brakes! The more I saw this guy and got to know him, my instincts started kicking up a notch, until they were screaming, “Be still!” Be still? What does that even mean?, I asked. I barely know the guy, I thought. It’s just a silly crush, I said. He seems really nice, I reassured myself. So I tried to ignore that feeling. It might go away eventually. But it didn’t. It just got louder. Then, I thought, Okay, well maybe I can just be friends with him. “Be still,” my gut told me once again. So short. So plain. So simple. No explanation of why.

I decided to listen to my instincts. A few months later, while at a work related meeting, my crush was brought up in conversation (by people who knew nothing about the butterfly affect this guy had on me). While they didn’t know about my crush on this guy, they did know something about him that I did not know. HE IS DATING SOMEONE!!!!! (Stop. Reread that last line for impact.)

Twenty Something Advice (for Anyone):

“A woman knows by instinct what is best for herself.” Marilyn Monroe

Yep, my crush, the first guy I have had more than platonic feelings toward in more than three years, is dating someone else! I cannot lie and say that I wasn’t disappointed at the news. Just the idea of this guy sounded like perfection. But the reality was far from it. He is with another lady. So this is where I gracefully bow out and take my exit, stage right. Although I was disappointed, I can also honestly say that I was relieved too. My instincts told me something wasn’t right months ago. Now that I am older and slightly wiser, I have gotten better at listening to my inner voice, my instincts, that check on the inside of me that tells me when something isn’t right. It has saved me time and time again, and in this case, it spared me from getting too attached to a guy and having to get hurt.

As a twenty something, your gut is probably one of the most valuable things you have. There are constant choices we are bombarded with in the 20s. Where to live. What job to take. Whom to date or marry. While you are in the process, in the waiting game, in the place between here and there, I would encourage you to always follow your instincts. Not your fears. Your pride. Your feelings. But your gut. That inner knowing within you. That voice of discernment that whispers to you. The one that sometimes gets clouded out by your immediate desires that say things like date that really cute guy over there because he is cute and he is breathing!

Hone that inner voice inside of you. I know when I was younger, I would often squelch my instincts, only to regret it later. Don’t make that mistake. Trust yourself. When faced with a choice, a decision, a crossroads, always go with your gut. I guarantee that it’ll never lead you astray.

“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” Albert Einstein

Stephkt