I’m Gonna Be a Cash Register

This week as the Olympics begin a lot of athletes are talking about dreams coming true and prayers answered. It’s always easy to notice dreams and prayers that came to fruition on a big scale like the Olympic Games. We can imagine little kids across the globe running, swimming or fencing their way onto the largest stage in sports, finally hearing their name called and holding the medal they’ve dreamed about for an odd number of years. One of the big stories this week was from sprinter Morolake Akinosun, who tweeted this last week:

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The tweet quickly went viral for its heartwarming confirmation that dreams do come true and affirmation is tremendously powerful. What a lot of us don’t realize is how many of our own prayers and dreams have been answered. Sometimes it takes a little bit of reflection to see how far we’ve come and how truly blessed we are.

cash

When I was young I wanted to be a cashier more than anything! I was about 4-6 at the time and constantly got things confused in my head, so I thought a cashier was the machine and a cash register was the person. Every time we left our neighborhood grocery store I would confidently declare “I’m gonna be a cash register!” To my parents’ amusement they would correct my use of words and encourage me that I could be anything I wanted. I credit a lot of this dream to two women who worked at the store and were the nicest people I’ve ever met. They would always smile and talk to us as we went through the line, and complimented me on anything from my shirt to how much I’d grown since they last saw me; one even dubbed me “pretty girl” and gave me big hugs before we left the store. They were my small town heroes, and I wanted to work the fancy register and make people smile just like they did.

Over the years, my career goals and aspirations shifted quite a bit, but I always held a soft spot in my heart for the cashier role, and a few years ago I had the opportunity to do that in my college bookstore. It was after almost a year of working there that I looked up one day and thought, “I always wanted to be a ‘cash register’ and look: here I am doing what I always wanted.” My childhood dream came true. It may not have been my biggest goal anymore, it may not have been at the same place I imagined, and it wasn’t for a very long period of time, but it did come true. Something as simple as “I’m gonna be a cash register!” came full circle.

journal

This year marks 10 years that I’ve been in NC and to commemorate it, I’ve been reading my diary from 2006, which was a daily journal my mom gave me for Christmas. Each day I read the corresponding entry to see what my life was like a decade ago. It’s amazing to see what kind of things I hoped and prayed for that have come to pass since then. At 13, I wanted a lot of things in life, some were big and some were small: to play golf without stressing over it or losing my swing, having healthy friendships, a stable home (as in not moving a lot), a college degree, to be a published writer. I think about it and now I can step onto a golf course without anxiety shaking in my boots, I’m a college graduate, I live in a house my family has been in for 7 years, and I’m a published writer with friends that are practically family. These are all small aspects of my life that I don’t blink at today, but there was once a time these seemed like unlikely realities-the prime subject of tears, prayers and nights spent awake fantasizing a better life.

IMG_9370No matter how small the dream is or trivial the prayer, if it’s important to you it’s worth working towards it. I also learned that it takes patience, as none of these happened the day after I first desired them, but I kept them in my heart and they came true. Whatever you’re praying for or dreaming about today CAN and WILL come true someday, and it will happen when you need it the most. One day you’ll look up and forget how difficult life was before your dreams came true. It’s really easy to fall into a rut and focus on what you don’t have now and what you want. But take a moment of gratitude to appreciate all the things in your life that have gone the right way. You’ll be surprised to see how much of your past desires are now a part of your daily life, and rest assured, you’ll be more at ease knowing your current dreams are your future reality. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t forsake your prayers and dreams. They are coming true every single day.

Making It

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By the time you see this I would have accomplished something very special. I would have met my blog goal for the first week of 2016! Now I just have to do that 51 more times, but let’s not worry about the details.

While many things have taken place that I can’t wait to tell you about there is one thought I hope you take into the weekend. Don’t be afraid to do something that feels really hard, impossible even. I know, I know you’ve heard this before and it’s just old news. What I mean is your ideas are important and they mean something. They are worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears that it takes to make them tangible. They are worth your full attention.

So don’t be afraid to move on your ideas and desires and dreams. Reach out and touch that thing you’re hoping for. Create something that doesn’t exist. You will have a healthy soul because of it. We aren’t here long, so do all the things that seem extraordinary, because YOU my friend, are incredible.

Get to Know Candace

writings

“Allow me to reintroduce myself…*

So I decided to give you all a bit of insight into my chapbook Letters About Losing You (LALY) and my creative process, as well as some fun facts about me. Since it felt weird to just ramble about things with no direction (hey that’s called blogging, right? lol) I pasted together a bunch of helpful, quirky and entertaining questions via Google. Enjoy!

What inspired me to write LALY

I discovered during undergrad that I really like writing about people and relationships, specifically. A lot of my work was inspired by my own experiences and things I’d read, overheard on a bus or lunchroom or made up in my crazy, complex head. What’s more interesting to me is the idea of loss and all the forms that it takes over the course of life. Most people see the title and assume it’s about death or lost love. But loss is happy and it’s sad depending on how we make sense of it. I tackled this exploration in three parts, from concrete to abstract. It just skims the ocean of possibility: a person dying, betrayal, freeing yourself from a bad situation, realizing you’ve changed. I think once you’ve read through it a few times you’ll reflect on all these phases we go through as humans and think about the state of yourself and your relationships. It’s contemplative in a spiritual sense.

My favorite poem in LALY

Old Age

Which one best describes me

Probably Shakeable Earth

Most personal piece

I wrote them and spent a lot of time with them, so they all are in some way 🙂 But I’d have to say Black Banana. It’s socially conscious and thus very important I think.

Least favorite

The ones that didn’t make the book haha

How I write

Many ways, it’s a burst of inspiration, as one would expect. Most take a bit more time though. I often free write and pluck, as I call it; take the promising bits out and turn it into something. Other times I know what topic I’m tackling and brainstorm from an image or thought. Editing is most of it, I have no less than about 6 drafts of anything and much more on others, I’ve gotten to 20 before. Everything from stanza changes to a word swap or punctuation changes.

Favorite poets

Li-Young Lee, David Ferry, Rudy Francisco, Andrea Gibson, Ross Gay, Nikki Giovanni. I’m sure Lhumpa Lahiri too if she wrote poetry. The list goes on, but they influence me most.

Last book I read

The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe. Helped me understand myself so much.

Last book I didn’t finish

Lonesome Dove–it’s so long! One day I will though

Who’s on my playlist

Dan Bremmes, Daniel D, Trevor Wesley, Trip Lee, Adele, Parson James and Tori Kelly. I like a lot of different sounds as you can tell, but mainly authentic, soulful sounds that keep you thinking right.

How I break writer’s block

Read. Read everything I can get my hands on. Then I force myself to write something, even if it’s really bad.

Dream Vacation

If it’s continental US then  I’d say San Diego. If we’re talking just domestically in general then the Virgin Islands. International? Greece. Sorry, I need options, I’m too adventurous for one-answer questions haha

Pet Peeve

People who stand really close to me in line!

Something I want to learn how to do

Swim! And play Stevie Wonder’s harmonica solo in “Doing It Wrong”

Don’t know about me

This is a weird question because every time you answer it, it has to change so I’m gonna pass.

 

Leave a comment below with your thoughts on any of these and don’t forget to hashtag “LALY” on social media and keep the conversation about change, love, life, and loss going.

 

 

5 Facts About People With Big Dreams

previously published on Puckermob

 

1. You often find yourself daydreaming

You daydream in the middle of the day about your goals and ambitions, doodling on notes of paper, or laying wide awake at night thinking about what you want to become. Your mind is often controlled by your heart, because with dreams so big and exciting it’s hard not to fantasize, plan out, and play through every moment you want to happen.

2. You’re often unsatisfied with your current state

Patience is key, but try telling that to someone who dreams of being a star, curing cancer, or traveling the world. With dreams so vivid, it’s hard to be comfortable where you are because it’s never what you ultimately want to be. You know deep down that you’re destined to do amazing things, and all you can think about is “getting there,” which means the current state of affairs, just leaves you in continuous anxiety.

3. You are an extremely focused person

Big dreams don’t just pop into your head out of nowhere, they are cultivated and built from passionate ideas. Big dreamers won’t let anything stand in the way of achieving their goals, and thus are very focused on steps that lead to their success. Whether you’re a careful planner or like to wing it with luck, every decision you make has your dreams in mind.

4. You are protective of your dreams

Negativity is everywhere and you’re sure not to let anyone squash your giant ideas. You have a vision, and only those who share your vision are allowed to see it. If you have really big dreams, you probably haven’t shared them with more than a few people, and even they may not have heard the whole story. Only you see the whole dream, and it’s much too dangerous to throw it out there to get trampled on.

5. You are easily inspired

This may not seem like a big deal, but often it takes a lot to rev up someone’s engine. Not you! Your dreams are very real and alive to you; hearing about someone else’s amazing story gets you motivated and fills you with hope. Inspiration is all around you, and you thrive off of it, knowing you’ll be the next success story in no time! While your friends are on the couch consenting the big stage to everyone on TV, you’re working hard in your field of expertise, following your role models and staying encouraged.

It’s Our Time To Go

grad pic

Last week I graduated from college, one of the first big accomplishments many of us make in our lifetimes. When I first went away to school everyone told me how fast four years was going to go by and how I should enjoy every moment. Now, looking back at what once seemed like a very far off milestone, it’s easy to say “they were right.” There are certainly early memories, like moving in, or taking my first exam, that feel like a long time ago, but overall this four years was the busiest and fastest four years of my life. Why are they so fast? Because we’re busy. Because we’re having fun. Because when you really think about four years you realize how little of it you actually remember—how many mornings, dinners, classes, nights spent in the library you just can’t recall.

11143434_1122971397716724_4742250236336702333_nOn Sunday, our commencement speaker Jason Kilar, the founder of Hulu, spoke about his own experience graduating from UNC 22 years ago. He talked about his obstacles and about how “life is an exercise of living with the certainty of the uncertainty.” He said not to let the absence of answers stop you from pursuing your dreams—just the kind of thing you would expect to hear at a college graduation speech, in the midst of a sea of almost 3,900 graduates eager and anxious about their next step in life. In a time when the odds may seem against you and nothing is working he told us to be strong, that “there is no adversity capable of stopping you once the choice to persevere is made.” Great stuff, right? I know, you should read the rest of the speech.

When I first stepped foot on campus during a tour in 2011 Carolina was just a dream, college some real yet mysteriously mystical place where people gain friends and get smart. A few months later I was nervously following my tour guide around orientation, registering for classes, gawking at upperclassmen, and trying not to be too much of a first year. And just several weeks after that, I was immersing myself into a culture of blue that would soon become my second family. I was such a different person then, but those changes happened slowly versus all at once. Over time, I became more observant, more confident, less trusting, more professional and far more comfortable sharing my ideas. College exposed me to more kinds of people than I had ever been around and I found myself making the decision to improve different parts of my personality and take advantage of the opportunity to acquaint myself with, well, myself. Most importantly, college required me to be responsible, and through all the times I was and I wasn’t, I found myself capable of rising to the responsibilities on my plate.

One of the things that makes university (as my British friends would say) so special is the encouragement to openly discuss, question and explore ideas or just life in general. Often, once we’ve become grown adults and handled life’s curveballs we gain certain philosophies that remain unchanged. We rely on our experience and less on discovery. We make certain judgments on the world instead of propositions, declarations instead of wondering. That’s what I tell people I’ll miss most. Of course I’ll miss the classes, the athletics, $10 Broadway shows and being a five minute walk from my friends. But I’ll miss the eagerness to discover and question life the most. I won’t miss dorm laundry rooms, grading systems, or trying to walk from one side of campus to the other in ten minutes.

DTH

Carolina was a special place for all of us, but like all schools, she makes you leave. Although I know we’ll come back one day, reminiscing about our time walking these bricks and sharing success stories, it’s hard to leave initially. Graduation sneaks up on you in the swarm of moving, eating with friends, finals, pictures and senior shenanigans. You drive off and realize it really is over, the days flourishing in the Pit, throwing Frisbee in the quad and camping out all night in the UL are for a new class of students. It feels like someone is tearing your heart from your chest, waving it in your face and telling you it’s no longer yours. Campus morphs into a vastly dead silence, lying in wait for first years to start swarming campus as wide-eyed as we once were, and it all feels so unfair.

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But wasn’t this the goal? We certainly didn’t enroll to be eternal college students. We talked about this day, how we couldn’t wait for it, how we dreaded it, how we thought we weren’t going to make it. We wanted to graduate. No, we didn’t expect it to rain for an hour and 45 minutes of the two hour ceremony, but we imagined it. We wanted to wear alumni shirts and become famous with degrees, fancy cars and have kids who could wear baby Tar Heel clothes. This was the whole point and we made it. We did it. Not everyone who started with us ended with us, but they are still a part of our experience and that’s life in all its irony. Some of us stuck together to the end and we have a lifetime of memories to share for it. Some of us went through some really, really hard times. But we persevered, like Jason said. So graduation is not sad, because it means we accomplished an admirable thing, we achieved one dream, and we can accomplish more.

Those four long years ago I wrote a post that to this day is my most popular, Last Full Week, where I reflected on my last week at home before college and I ended with this paragraph:

 I am not scared or sad. I am happy, I am content, I am thankful, and I am blessed. I sometimes want more than I need, but I have all I need because I have Him, and my family and my Tarheel Fam. What more could a girl like me ask for? I have been given more things in this world than I could ever repay. My prayers have been answered and I am completely happy. Life could not be greater than it is today. The sky is not the limit, it’s just the beginning of the dream. I’m going, for the top of the moon.“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.” – Frederick Buechner

capI can’t say that tonight, after being home a week after finishing college that my sentiments are any different. Perhaps we don’t have a list of requirements in front of us telling us what to do anymore as we’ve had our whole lives, but that’s okay. Some of us are going to serve our country, take time abroad, continue more education, look for jobs, start companies/invent ideas, begin a family or just relax and collect our thoughts. But we should all go after our dreams, after our careers. I know this was the best four years of my life as it should have been, enjoying the brink of adulthood and low responsibility. But I’m not completely sad or stuck on this chapter ending, because I know there’s chapters ahead, and I know the road gets better from here. If I stayed depressed that college was over it would mean I didn’t believe there will be anything else as good ahead. So I keep believing. I thank God that I have something to cherish, something so hard to part with. I have the ability to carve my own path now and I have the critical skills to do so wisely. I’m ready to dive into new adventures, new responsibilities, and new stories. I’m ready to take on something big that demands me to become better, to climb a steep learning curve and succeed. Because when you’re thrown a huge ball you either catch it or drop it—both will help you become a better person, and the more it happens the better you’ll get at catching. Just keep your head up, your hopes high, your feet running, and never ever doubt your dreams.

Doing what you love, pursuing your own path, is often the most unsettling option at the outset. The paths that others have traveled before you, paths that have greater visibility — they appear lower risk. They play better in conversations with the aunts, the uncles, and the neighbors. But don’t fall for it. You’re better than that, and you have the strength to go your own way. – Jason Kilar

Dear Diary

It was so colorful!

It was so colorful!

At seven years old I walked into a local CVS store down the street from my house and fell in love with a 3 x 5 inch Lisa Frank notebook (any 90s kid, girls in particular remember her). There was a bear on the cover and it was shiny, bright and, dare I admit, a bit gaudy. In other words, it was simply beautiful. It also cost about three dollars. So I went home and counted all the change I had until I knew there were enough quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies–so many pennies–to cover it all. Once I went back to the store, dropped my change on the counter, and bought the notebook, I was content. page 1This was the beginning of my journaling experience. I wrote everything across the purple pages in youthful spelling: where I went, people who came over, TV shows I liked, my obsession with Mary-Kate and Ashley, the list goes on. Over the past 14 years (wow I sound old) I filled up 17 journals and notebooks, the last of which I have written in sparingly during my 4 years of college because I was too busy to keep up with daily or weekly accounts (although I do have a good amount of journaling on my computer where it was much easier and faster to write out my day). I know each one by cover, what period of my life it holds, where I bought it, who gave it to me if it was a present, and major things that unfold between the pages. At a time when I couldn’t imagine not feeling the way I felt at the moment, it’s so nice to go back and read through them and see what I thought about life and what I was going through.

Some people name their journals, as Anne Frank so famously named her diary “Kitty.” I often would just write Dear Diary at the start of my entries for the first few years, then I eventually began to simply write the date and begin jotting words. Halfway through high school I named mine Kassi, short for Kassiopeia, a celestial queen whose name in Greek means “she whose words excel.”

The journal I'm currently working on

The journal I’m currently working on

My box of journals

My box of journals

I glued a few pictures and newspaper clippings into some over time, and a couple I decorated with doodles or colorful page numbers. While I have gotten older and the pace of life has vigorously increased, I still find it relaxing and necessary to write out things about my life or events that take place. It’s therapeutic in a way that few things are and extremely intimate, as writing challenges you to be honest with yourself above all else, even if you can’t be with another person. The more you write, the more comfortable I”m sure you will be with sharing your ideas. pages

Although these books contain personal thoughts and muses I’d like to think that if I one day become well-known they can be a clue to help biographers learn a little more about me. And at the very least, they’ll be proof to my children that I was once a young kid too. It’s also nice to see how far you’ve come and where you are today compared to where you thought you would be. It’s amazing what predictions we make about the future without realizing it, and how much of our beliefs and philosophies we share when we are just talking about an event or conversation in our mind.

If you haven’t tried keeping a journal before I would urge you to do so. It’s very helpful and a lot of fun, and especially liberating if you are going through a particularly exciting or rough period of life. You don’t have to keep them by hand like I do, many people keep diaries online or on a word processing program as I have the past few years. It’s much faster for a busy lifestyle, however nothing beats good ol’ pen and paper! Quote

When Privilege Meets Responsibility

“We don’t think about the system failing because our educations were okay. I went to Harvard, you’re at UNC Chapel Hill. Most blacks from NC don’t have that opportunity. People say ‘You’re lucky.’ No you’re not.”  – Hill Harper, January 20, 2014

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Sometimes it takes a few bold, jarring words to make you see the light. I’ve read somewhere before that the biggest human temptation is to settle, and to settle is to give less than a full effort, to never exceed anyone’s expectations.

It may seem like I’ve blogged a lot about mediocrity recently but it’s been my personal enemy for awhile and I intend to tackle it head-on this year. It is a lifelong battle ahead of me, as I have learned that not every obstacle you conquer remains defeated–it will find a way to show up again in another form. Tonight Hill Harper spoke for the Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture at my university and it was everything a lecture should be: riveting, motivating, soul-searching, insightful, witty, funny, and honest. It was both uplifting and convicting at the same time. You could say it was like a sermon.

I wanted to share some highlights that hit home for me in hopes that it will be helpful to you:

  • He said  that FEAR stands for “false evidence appearing real”
  • “We can’t be free if the price of being ourselves is way too high”
  • “Fear is mental; true courage is from the heart.” I was very excited by this discussion on fear, as courage and fearlessness have been my biggest mantras for getting through college.
  • The foundation of his speech was this quote from Bobby Kennedy: “The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to [their] ideals.”
  • Passion without smarts and focus is just scattered energy
  • We must turn our critical thinking toward ourselves and ask ourselves if we are being average, if we are settling, if we are challenging ourselves to do our best.
  • He told a story about meeting Barack Obama while at Harvard Law School and that many people would have told Obama not to go back to school and incur a load of debt at nearly 30 years old, not when he was a black man with a degree from Columbia, already “way ahead of the game.” His point was that we must have courage to take risks. That we should never settle for the idea that “we made it.” Just becausewe  have a great opportunity doesn’t give us the license to stop helping other people, to stop pursuing greater things. We should not stay in the roles society gives us.
  • Affirmations are effective and important – we should use them every day whether they are posted around for the sake of our subconscious or said aloud to ourselves.

Ultimately, we are not simply lucky to receive the privilege of an education; we are endowed with the responsibility to use it and make a positive change. Kind of makes you fired up about life, huh? Tell me what kinds of things you are passionate about or want to do. Drop a comment below and good luck on your next courageous move!

What I Really Think About Turning 21

21

Milestone birthdays don’t happen every year. So naturally, we want them to be special. The first landmark number of adulthood is the big 2-1, which I will be in about a week.

Like most young adults, I have waited excitedly for this special day. However, I started to wonder what was so great about turning 21 other than being blessed with another year and oh yeah, something about being the legal age to drink. Now, as someone who isn’t planning to get wasted (like this very funny yet very bad synopsis of a typical 21st birthday) I started to feel a bit deflated about why this 21 thing meant more than past ages. Not to shrug my cultural rite of passage but it simply didn’t seem so important, especially when you consider that China, Canada and Europe would call us good ol’ Americans late boomers since their drinking ages range from 16-19.

Maybe I’ll just pig out on free food, I thought.

Hungry

Then I started thinking a little harder. Uncle Ben, Peter Parker’s uncle in the famous Spider-Man comic book series, warned his nephew that “With great power comes great responsibility.” If there was one sentence that could sum up turning 21 it’s probably that.

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I did a bit of snooping and it turns out there are quite a few things you can do once you turn 21.

  • Gamble
  • Drink alcoholic beverages
  • Get married in the state of Mississippi without a guardian’s approval (late bloomers too, huh?)
  • Ride in a car with any learning driver
  • Run for mayor
  • Adopt a child

That’s some pretty heavy stuff if you ask me. Certainly not for the faint of heart. I like what author Tim Elmore said in his article about going out to dinner with his son for his 21st: “Rights without responsibility are rarely redemptive. In fact, much of the time, rights minus responsibilities simply create selfish brats. Privileges without price tags don’t really help us grow up.” Beautifully said.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, from pinkchocolatebreak.com

At 21, Steve Jobs had already dropped out of college and was co-founding Apple, the place that makes the shiny iPhone 30% of smartphone users are on right now. I know what you’re thinking – “That’s not fair! We all can’t be Steve Jobs.” True, we can’t. But we can all be excellent versions of ourselves.

Some people say that the first twenty years are the longest of your life. Afterward you have all the privileges-and problems-of any adult, and it goes by fast. I guess my 21st birthday will be a time to celebrate life and the gift of responsibility with those closest to me, joining the ranks of adulthood, namely with my mom whose birthday I was born on. 🙂

me and my mom

me and my mom

So whatever we choose to do for our special 21st , remember that while we may always be young at heart, “the time has come for us. We are no longer the children. We are the ones the children will be watching, and soon enough in fact, our very own children will be the ones watching us. And twenty or thirty years from now, we will be at the graduation of those children, handing them a world that we had a real chance to remake.”

I hope to hand my kids a world in which I had an intensely positive impact. But tonight,

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.
~ Titus Maccius Plautus

toast

A Classy Toast, from collegegloss.com

Now I’ll make a toast to that.

NOTHING WAS THE SAME

nwts

In college we have these things called “hell weeks,” which are basically a period of 7 days where you have more things due than there are hours in a day to finish them all. Over my past two years I have called them everything from hell week to strength tests, to stress week, to busy week, but now I’m convinced it’s just “college.”

Last week and this week have been one of those times. Between papers, quizzes, lab, extracurriculars, work, and an exam I’ve been fortunate enough to find the time to eat. Even now I’m writing this in protest of studying (just kidding, it’s more of a creative study break).  That being said it’s certainly my family, friends, and prayer that get me through such tough times in my life. And music.

So, I wanted to take a moment to dedicate this post to a new album dropping today – Drake’s Nothing Was The Same. I’ve been low-key obsessed with it since it leaked last Sunday but for much different reasons than you might think. Sure there are great beats and quotable lines on the album (you know me, I’m struck by great words) but when I encounter excellence in creativity I am easily inspired to keep improving my own work.

If I could tell you anything about the new album it’s that the production on it is tremendous. Each song is a work of art that was clearly molded over time and infused with emotion, sensitivity, and drama. As an artist, especially lyrically, Drake has improved tenfold. Everything great art should be.

Therefore, I hope this week is a productive one for you. Stay positive, motivated, and inspired. Despite the work, at the end of the day I’m just trying to make my life “a completed checklist.” Deep down we’ve all had experiences that changed us, and we all hope to leave an indelible mark during our life – which is the very essence of the album. One of the most emotional things in life is looking back on a memory and knowing since then nothing was the same.

Doubt

This is my first open mic piece from a few months ago. It was a nervous, exhilarating, and humbling experience. Can’t wait to do more.

 
My family told me to be brave. To know that it’s quite alright o step into the world looking for a beaten path and paving one instead. They told me to explore. Not in the sense of a juvenile scavenger hunt, but more like an aching, craving, “keep asking questions until you know what’s there” kind of way. They told me to go. But it’s not easy to follow your dreams. We are surrounded by drive-by shootings of haters who spit bullets of doubt through the fragile windows of  confidence behind which we hold our dreams. And seeing that our security systems of self-belief disavowed us, we look into the mirror just to ask ourselves, “can we really succeed?” But I do not wait for the girl—who I don’t recognize as myself—to respond from this mirror of self-degradation. I have spent too many days in my room too depressed to get dressed and too tired to wake up so I could get down to business. When I was young it was easy to dream. I called it make believe. I would crawl under the table, past my mother’s feet and my father’s knees, patiently laying out my life for the next 30 years never questioning why I couldn’t be Barbie or wondering where was my Ken—Because in those days a good man was easy to find. I always had a house and a job and confidence because if I wanted it I could do it. Right? Now all I can think is why did I  ever stop playing make believe? What caused me to think that I was wrong, people are unfair, love doesn’t exist, and tell me, when did the world get so big? Bigger than the dining room table I played under. Real. Realer than the fake money I would count from my cash register—which is what I once aspired to be,  back when I was too young to know the difference between a machine and the Machine. One mechanical, one metaphorical. One printing receipts and taking cards, the other signing away life sentences and taking well-oiled dreams, stamping them denied, declined. Voided hope. You see, there is a difference between faith and doubt, and the more I try to separate the opposing sides the more I realize that they are neither enemies nor foes, but sparks. Sparks that cause the other to smolder inside my soul, tearing each half of my heart in different ways, validating my sense of humanity. It is because of doubt that we choose faith. It to rebel against faith that we choose to doubt. The absence of one is the absence of the other, the presence of this is the presence of that. We measure our faith by our friends’ doubts, but in the silence of our rooms we know what we really believe. We may be surrounded on all sides by the voice of doubt, that tireless machine that runs from dream to dream, through the shadows of night and the clouds of the day, letting the air out of the balloon of our hope until we find ourselves no longer high on the prospect of being great, but we can never forget those words that tell us to go. We can never forget that every bullet of doubt can be stopped by the shield of faith. We can never forget that doubt is just a shovel that digs our grave, waiting for the night when our dreams die and fear and time bury our futures goodbye. We can never forget that playing make believe was teaching us to believe in the future we make for ourselves. Sometimes we have to silence our doubt, and just go.