I never had a dream.
That isn't the beginning of a speech that will go down in history. Martin Luther King Jr. did it much better.
It is true, though. I can't remember any time in my life when I decided that I wanted to do something and pursued it for years to make it happen.
During this season of graduations, you hear students talking about what career path they want to pursue.
I never really knew. I went to engineering school for five semesters after graduating from high school. I didn't "want" to be an engineer. I didn't really know what they did.
All I knew was that only people who were skilled in science and math could do the work and I was really good at science and math. Surely that meant I needed to be an engineer, right?
To quote President Donald Trump, "Wrong!"
After five semesters that seemed like 50 years, I fell in love with political science and economics through courses I had to take to earn an honors degree.
At that time in my life, I decided to do something that I enjoyed rather than something I was good at.
I had no idea what I was going to do with this degree - although a job in politics sounded fun.
So I took way too many courses the next three semesters in order to graduate on time.
During that time, I also got my first job in politics. I worked for one of my high school teachers who had become a mentor for me. I was her campaign manager and I was worth a lot more than she paid me. (I was a volunteer, so that is an easy claim to make without appearing arrogant.)
I started envisioning a role on her staff in the state senate when I graduated. It was going to be great. Then we lost by eight votes in a runoff election. (Maybe I was worth exactly what she paid me.)
The losing candidate doesn't hire a staff. My plans were dashed. Her plans were also dashed. But she already had a job as a teacher and she would go on to become a high school principal. I had no idea what I would do.
I always kept my job as a night manager for a local hotel to pay my bills. Soon after the election ended, my hometown newspaper brought on a new editor. He worked long hours as new editors are prone to do.
He often came in late at night during my shift and drank coffee and watched ESPN Sports Center with me.
One day he offered me a job. That was an offer I gladly turned down. I never wanted to work at a newspaper. Fast forward 25 years, and here I am - working for a newspaper.
So for you seniors who might have received some awards and have good grades but no idea what to do with them, all I would say as a word of advice is to keep the blinders off and pursue classwork and jobs that bring you happiness.
Life is too short to do things you hate just because you can. Find your joy. That joy will allow you to develop your passion.
That passion will bring you success.