Going with the flow

I never totally knew what I was doing.

When my mother told me all those years ago that I had received a decent scholarship to attend Oakland University, I shrugged my shoulders indifferently and said, “Okay, I’ll go there.” The only other place I had considered until then was Macomb Community College.

I fell into Oakland’s lap without a clue about what I wanted to study or where I was going in life.

Now, soon to graduate with a major in English, I still don’t exactly know where I’m heading.

But I’m not worried.

I can’t pinpoint any particular dream job I want to work toward when I graduate, but I do have dream criteria for my life. These include traveling the world freely, publishing my writing, getting to know many people and being of service to humanity. Oh, and taking on as many adventures as I can.

These are the humble sails that steer my ship.

In college, I discovered that opportunities present themselves when you are open to them. Among many other things, I came to be an officer in the Grizzdance Film Festival organization, made connections at the WXOU radio station and talked philosophy in a Bible study group.

I shyly approached the weekly open mic event on campus and began doing readings of things that I wrote. The crowd loved it. I kept going, and I became very popular.

I credit that experience with strengthening both my speaking and writing skills.

After my third year of school, my mother suggested I take some time off to explore and hopefully decide on a career option. Not really caring either way, I agreed.

While I didn’t necessarily make a decision, I did end up applying to the Americorps volunteer program and was accepted. I took a road trip across the country to work on a Native American reservation in northern California, where I met fascinating people and had eye-opening experiences. I had fun.

In addition, the scholarship I got from the program wiped away many of my student loans. I am now set to graduate debt-free.

When I returned to Oakland, I heard someone say that working for The Oakland Post was a great way to “go on to do great things afterward.” I went to the office, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do for the paper. But something inside told me that I had to somehow get involved.

I was instantly made an intern, which led to becoming a reporter, which then led to me becoming an editor. And my writing, the words you’re reading now, is published for all to see.

All of this came from just doing what felt right at the time.

I’m not climbing a ladder toward a specific goal. Rather, I see myself swinging from one opportunistic branch to another, with the faith that I’ll eventually end up where I need to be.

I don’t suggest that everyone adopt such a loose approach to their lives (even though I’d like to). But if there is any advice I have for my peers still in school, I suppose it would be the following.

First, be open and nonjudgmental to opportunities, however random they appear. If something even slightly strikes your fancy and you can do it, do it. The least it can do is add more color to your life.

Second, try to get to know as many people as you can. Where others stress to invest one’s time in studies or work, I always say to invest your time in people. Simply having a genuine curiosity about who folks are and why they do what they do will get you very far in life.

With that, I wish everyone luck and prosperity. I look forward to the next step, whatever it may be.