Fan Mail

I’m sure the title has you assuming all sorts of things, foremost being that I’m egotistical.

Which is probably true. But in all honesty, the only reason I’m publishing a particular letter I received is because it highlights a common dilemma facing millennials now. In the past year, I’ve crafted a number of responses to similar questions posed in the letter below. For my own clarity, I’ve consolidated my answers into a single post for the interest of anyone seeking life advice from an equally clueless (but well-meaning) 20something.

03/14/2012

Hey Lynne,

I don’t know if you remember me, but I feel like I have been following your life for a couple of years through your various blogs (creepy, maybe?) ever since I met you so long ago. I guess I just wanted to tell you that your writing and your life have amazed me as I’ve been following, the travels in Asia, and Europe, and now the adventures in New York. I have loved every single one of your blogs. 

I have a few questions if you don’t mind! How did you develop the courage and confidence in yourself to pursue your goals? Being a freshman, I feel as though the future is so daunting and I really have no idea what I’m doing with myself and what direction I’m trying to head in and I’m scared that I’m wasting precious time by not knowing. Also, how are you able to design concrete projects and goals from your passions and loves? 

I’d also love to collaborate with you on something one day, if you ever have a space in one of your projects for me in the future. 🙂 And one day I hope we can perhaps meet up for a great conversation over coffee, when I feel less like a child and whenever we may be able to cross paths one day.

But most of all, I’m just sending in some love and fanmail.

(SN: I think this blog could die happy knowing that in its short life, at least one person didn’t dismiss its babbles as useless. Thanks!)

My response:

03/15/2012

What a lovely surprise to read your message. It is my first piece of “fan mail”, though I would hardly say I constitute it. However, I do often wonder if I am writing for an audience greater than one (that being myself), so your letter is reassurance that I’m at least writing for two 🙂 Thanks for reading!
 
I’ll try my best to answer your questions but keep in mind that finding confidence and bliss is a never-ending process.  I graduated from college last year and was pretty all-over-the-place with what I wanted to do, though to many my future must have seemed a sure thing. I was a broadcast journalism major from start to finish and really involved w/internships, working at television stations, etc. Now I’m working on digital strategy for entrepreneurs in NYC. Some may say I’ve veered far from my college path. True – I’m not on the news. But people change, as well as the circumstances we’re called to. In reality, I don’t think I’ve veered terribly far. The skills I learned from college journalism are applied often in my job –  just not in the exact way I initially envisioned  – and that’s okay. You may or may not have heard, but your undergraduate major does not matter a whole lot after you graduate. What matters much more is your skill set.
 
Here’s my general advice:
Experiment. There is no other time in your life when you aren’t bound to bills, serious relationships, family, jobs, or illness than now. Now is the time for you to try everything under the sun that suits your fancy (though don’t get too crazy with the drugs and alcohol ). Tinker with shit. Talk to strangers – that’s one way to really develop confidence.
Most importantly, don’t think you’re wasting time.  Believe me, life works in funny ways. In some way or another, every random, seemingly useless thing you learn will be of use down the road. Even if not in a vocational sense, there’s no harm in learning something for the pure sake of edifying your mind. It just makes you a more interesting person which is actually a lot more important than having a practical use for every single thing.
 
As for developing concrete projects, think about what you want to improve in. Writing? Public speaking? Juggling? Drawing? Your answers should somewhat align with what you’re scared of. Design your projects in that line. The scarier, the better, and the more you’ll grow.
I’d also add that the best way to boost your confidence and pursue your goals is to break your gods. A friend once told me that the greatest advantage Ivy League students receive is not their education, but their elevated sense of worth (whether false or deserved). Being exposed to so many high-profile “smart” people from the time you enter school gates builds confidence. At first, seeing ‘celebrities’ makes you starry-eyed and useless. However, with increased exposure, you have no choice but to become acclimated and STOP GAWKING. You start seeing “gods” as real people. The ability to interact with another person as a human, not as a god, is a gift; it makes interactions more meaningful.  Ivy or not, learn to break your gods and spend time finding ways you can add value, apart from the hype. Confidence will then come naturally.
Finally, I’d add one more thing:
Never take anyone’s advice too seriously.
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