I didn’t plan this.

I didn’t plan to go to UGA. I wanted to go to an out of state school that I couldn’t afford. But God wanted me at the University of Georgia.

When I got there, I didn’t plan to join any groups or organizations. I wanted to lay low and have time to breathe after practically killing myself to stand out in high school. But God had just the group that he wanted me to join.

I didn’t plan to let anyone into my inner self. I didn’t want to trust anyone with my struggles and emotions. I wanted to appear to everyone else as a happy person who had her whole life together and knew exactly what she was doing. But God knew just the people to send into my life to break down walls and teach me how to trust again.

I didn’t plan to give up on my dream of having a packed resume at the end of my freshman year. I wanted to have as many titles and positions as I could so maybe I’d have a chance at impressing a future employer over the summer. But God closed every single door that he didn’t want me to walk through.

I didn’t plan to work on a student government campaign. That was the last place I EVER imagined myself, and in fact, I was hesitant to get involved. But God knew what I would learn from that experience. God knew it would change my life. And God knew exactly who he was placing in my path when he put me on that team.

I didn’t plan to spend this summer taking an online class at home. I wanted to be working a glamorous internship. But God knew I needed to slow down and take time to appreciate the people I have in my life.

I didn’t plan to start going to church while I was home again. What would be the point of that? I’ll only be here sporadically because I live in Athens most of the time now. But God knew exactly what I needed to hear.

I didn’t plan on my heart being reignited with an overwhelming desire to use my Spanish to reach out to native Spanish speakers in our country and abroad. I thought that calling was dead. I didn’t plan on listening to several missionaries speak on how much they needed help in their ministries in Spanish-speaking countries. I didn’t plan on feeling a call to reach out to the Hispanic community of Athens. I didn’t plan on doing anything whatsoever with that skill after I graduated college. But God knew I needed some way to work for the sake of His kingdom.

I didn’t plan to give up the reigns on my life. I wanted to be in control. I fought God, and I planned to be just fine on my own.

But plans change.

And here I am.

In the middle of God’s plan.

A fairly impossible question

If you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I never expected that question, especially not in the context where it arose. And to be honest, I’ve really never thought about it until now.

As I’ve grappled with that question over the past several days, I’ve realized I can’t truly answer it.

During my first year of college, I realized that I have passions and God-given talents that I never knew existed until they were exposed and tested. I had no idea how much I was truly capable of until I was challenged. And half the challenge was trying to go in so many directions at once. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but the past year has taught me that I can’t limit myself to whatever I feel right now or whatever might make the most logical sense.

I’m incredibly blessed to have opportunities and options, and I don’t have to choose only one at the expense of all the others. I have my whole life ahead of me, and I intend to pursue as many opportunities as I can while I have the time and the ability. I don’t think I could contain my life to chasing after only one thing when my heart contains so many dreams and so many passions.

I could give a million answers, but it ultimately comes down to this: For the rest of my life, the one thing I want to do is LIVE.

I want to use every moment to love, to sing, to write, to smile, to dance, to talk, to listen, to cry, to laugh, to celebrate, to bless the lives of others, and through it all, to glorify God.

If YOU could do one thing for the rest of YOUR life, what would it be?

There I stood.

On the edge of a fountain in Nashville, Tennessee, with a 1993 penny between my palms and my eyes squeezed shut.

I won’t say what I wished for, but I will tell you that I know it’s going to come true. And it may not be for the reason you think.

Over my almost 19 years of life, I’ve come to realize that life isn’t going to hand anything to me. Luck may very well be a powerful outlook for some, but for me it’s no more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My dream of moving to Nashville isn’t just something I hope to reach by wishing on stars and pennies and birthday candles. It’s something I know I’ll have to climb to, and I’ve already recognized that fact.

The dream is so huge and so prominent in my heart that I can’t imagine settling for anything less. In the past, maybe I settled for less than what my heart was really after. But I can’t bring myself to do that again.

So I know that wish will come true. Not because of a dull piece of copper that now sits on concrete.

But because of the unrelenting pursuit of a dreamer’s heart.

What if.

What if they say no?

What if I’m too young? Too inexperienced, too naïve, too new.

What if I’m too old? What if it’s too late? What if I missed my chance?

What if I’m too quiet? What if I don’t feel confident? What if they think I’m timid? What if they don’t think I can speak for what I believe in?

What if I’m too loud? What if they don’t want to hear my ideas? What if they don’t care what I have to say? What if they tell me to be quiet?

What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not what they were looking for?

What if I cry? What if I feel defeated? What if I have to experience disappointment again?

But… what if they can see past my flaws? What if they can see my passion? What if they believe in my future?

What if they say yes?

It’s never too late.

I look at my life as it is right now, and until now, it seems very average to me. I was a straight A student in high school, and I participated in my fair amount of activities that would sufficiently pad my resume. I graduated and came to a well-known, respected university as an Honors student, and now here I am.

Since being here, I’ve met people who have done and will continue to do incredible things. They lead movements for causes they’re passionate about; they encourage those around them in every way possible; they maintain impeccable academic reputations, and they’re loved by everyone they know. I’ve found people here who I can look up to, and I’ve encountered peers in the same walk of life as I am who I also admire for their accomplishments.

Recently as I was thinking about those incredible people, I began to reprimand myself for not being more like them. Why didn’t I have a fancy title (or two, or three, or four for that matter)? Why wasn’t I a recognized scholar or athlete? Why wasn’t my name and face well-known on campus? Why was I just another average person in a massive sea of wandering souls?

For several days after that train of thoughts occurred, I was angry. I told myself I never had enough potential to do anything significant anyway, and that’s why I had never tried harder to be incredible. I attempted to justify my own past laziness by telling myself that I’d done a few good things before. But the more I thought about it, the more angry I became at myself. I realized that I have forfeited so many dreams– big and small ones– because I gave up too easily and too soon. I wanted to graduate as valedictorian of my high school’s graduating class, but I let “senioritis” get the best of me. I wanted to earn a full scholarship to an out of state school, but I was too fed up with studying to put in the extra effort to improve my test scores so I might have a better shot at it.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m not happy where I am right now, because I truly am happy and blessed. I know that God shaped my life and my path to bring me to the exact point where I stand today, and I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made. Upon comparing myself with the incredible people around me, I did, however, regret forfeiting the possibilities that wholehearted pursuit of my dreams could have opened up.

After I spent nearly a week being angry at myself, I realized I was doing nothing more than having a prolonged pity party. Why was I wasting my time mulling over the past when I have a future full of possibilities? Who ever said that my window of opportunity to be incredible was already slammed shut and sealed tight? Let me think… hmm, no one! I finally realized that I have so many dreams in my heart, and there’s NOTHING stopping me from taking steps to accomplish them RIGHT NOW, in this very moment! The notion that it was too late for me to do something astonishing was only in my head– what a liberating realization!

So, although this awakening wasn’t an easy one to come to because I buried it in self-hatred for so long, it has finally risen to the surface of my perspective.

I cannot be told ‘no’ so many times that the word ‘yes’ will be eliminated from my world entirely. I cannot fail so many times that it will become impossible for me to succeed. I cannot make so many mistakes that I will permanently condemn myself to a life of mediocrity.

And most importantly, it is never too late to become incredible.