All my life, I’ve always been the one who had to be under control. I live for the feeling of safety in knowing that I’m in the driver’s seat for everything I do, and cannot stand otherwise. My love of control goes down to even the car I drive, which has a manual transmission. The sensation of shifting through the gears and knowing that I am determining what rate the engine rotates at is not only satisfying, but also calming knowing that I have more control than most. I thought that this insatiable need for control would aid me in achieving my dreams, as I believed that I controlled my own destiny and had to make things happen myself. Though this is true in some cases, I’ve realized that there’s far more too achieving one’s dreams than forcing them to happen.
As it turns out, chasing dreams certainly plays a part in bringing them to life, but I have learned that always being in control isn’t the key to success, and actually may inhibit growth. I learned this lesson the hard way-through my own experiences, and tough ones at that.
About a year ago, I’d just ended my first year of collegiate soccer in California. From the time I was 8 years old, I always dreamed of playing college soccer in California, an escape from the rainy days of Seattle. I achieved that goal, and living the dream was nothing short of amazing. However, my dream was short-lived. I misstepped at practice after jumping for a ball, and instantly fell to the ground, writhing in pain. In that single motion, an action I’ve repeated thousands of times in my time playing soccer, I blew out my knee and my career as a collegiate athlete was over.
What followed this injury was several months of misery, and nearly a year without soccer. I was forced to return home to a nearby community college and pick up a near full-time job to pay for my own place and struggled with the depression I felt in relation to my injury just about every day. I reached possibly my lowest point of all time and couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness and uncertainty.
Thankfully, great times were just around the corner, and my injury actually led to a period of growth for myself. By giving up soccer, I found a renewed passion in my studies as I was no longer stressing about due dates and forcing myself to do my schoolwork. With the extra time I had after giving up soccer, I was able to enjoy and actually look forward to school for the first time in years. Also, as my passion for school increased, my GPA increased as well. The improvement in my grades opened many doors for furthering my education, including an acceptance to Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, a top-notch business school in the area.
Through my many trials and tribulations on my journey from failure as a collegiate athlete to success as a student, I had a major epiphany. I realized that my lack of control in the situation I dealt with contributed to my success, and that I truly cannot ever control everything in my life. Though I believe it to be extremely important to control what you can and set proper goals, no individual can ever hope to control the tragedies life hands out.
Although these tragedies are often quite difficult to deal with and seemingly unbearable, the low points in life almost always are pathways to the highest points. There are lessons to be learned in tough situations, which strengthen character and make one more well-equipped to deal with future misfortunes that are bound to occur.
Unfortunately, I spent a great deal of my life living apprehensively and guarding myself from potential deterrents that could possibly get in the way of my goals and dreams, but have finally seen first-hand that doing so is quite naive and limits one’s potential. It is inevitable for there to be unavoidable twists and turns along the road to success-a word that may have a much different definition and form than it did at the beginning of life than it will later, as it now does for me-but that with each twist and turn, a straightaway lies inbetween.
What lies at the end of the of the road, though? Who knows. So, take the risk that few are willing to and let go of the steering wheel. Follow your ambitions and goals with no back-up plans or boundaries and strive for whatever it is you dream of – lose control.