20something profile: Cheryl
You might say I did everything the wrong way.
I went to university, racked up credit card debt I couldn’t pay off, took out student loans and then, without any guarantees on the horizon, I left university.
I went in fall 2005, majoring first in History before switching to major in Sociology.
Sitting on the top floors of the library at Brock University, I was overcome with anxiety and dread because I couldn’t run from the idea of leaving anymore. I wrote myself a letter on the blank back pages of lecture slides from the statistics class I was skipping (I still have it).
When I finished, there were tears streaming down my face and I realized, I can’t do this, because I was doing it for someone else. The thought of leaving felt crushing because I thought I would be letting everyone down, least of all the teachers who helped me and the scholarship donor who hand wrote me a letter about the promising future I had ahead of me.
The pressure I put on myself was immense.
I spent the next 7 years learning what I really wanted. Despite leaving school, I never thought my dreams possible. I referred to them in past tense on a regular basis and had to overcome my greatest obstacle to success — me. I wanted to be a photographer, having been co-editor of the yearbook in high school, and above all else, I wanted and needed to write. I held aspirations too, to be a motivational speaker, using my life experiences to inspire people to reach for more love.
The turn saw me work at a bookstore and get involved in LGBT activism, being the Chairperson for Peel Pride, just outside of Toronto. The twist was the fact that the activism was something I did because I enjoyed it and it gave me every single opportunity that’s propelled my career forward: confidence to write with a stronger voice on my blog The Loving Instant; appearing on TV as an expert about bullying, giving a keynote speech at a WorldPride event, writing for a magazine in Toronto, making it into local newspapers and newscasts; being a photographer for a 20th anniversary photo project with the Peel/HIV Aids Network and next, renting gallery space with a fellow artist to sell my photography.
The coolest part?
I’m just getting started.
We think we should have it all figured out yesterday, but I can assure you that the best experiences are the ones you didn’t see coming. They look the least like the plans you’ve made and the ones that follow doing something you really love. Be willing to work hard for what you want and know that your goals will eventually be realized.
I realize now that I thought it was luck, but speaking from experience, I can say that if you work at something consistently, success will find you. You don’t even have to work ridiculously hard, just consistently, which often looks like hard work to outside eyes. Your success may seem long overdue, but the person you’re becoming while waiting is going to make the dream seem like the next logical step. Remember to enjoy the sights along the way.
Fortune favors those brave enough to ask, “Why not me?” so remember to ask and then give it your all. Know where you want to go and be prepared to take all the twists and turns along the way because the ride is going to be amazing.
Buckle up, buttercup.
On The Wings of Miracles,