By the time you could walk and talk and balance a too-big fire fighter’s hat on your head, people were probably already asking you what you wanted to be when you grow up. A teacher? A police officer? An animal rescuer? Your teachers made you write papers and give speeches about it, and when you were finally ready to graduate high school, it’s the only subject any adult could see fit to talk about.
As a senior preparing to graduate in May, the colossal question continues to hang in the air. What are you going to DO? People want to know. What’s your dream job? They say. That’s a great question, I say. But what I really mean is, that’s an awful question. Because I don’t know. And I care less about what I’m going to do than about who I’m going to BE.
Something I realized this past summer while I was working in Nicaragua is that most people in the world never have the opportunity to shoot for their “dream job.” In the United States we are privileged. James Truslow Adams wrote that the American dream is the “dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” Those of us who have received a college education have been blessed with a gift. So what are we going to DO with it?
There’s a story in Matthew that addresses what we should do with what we’ve been given. Jesus tells a parable about a master who gives each of his servants varying amounts of talents (a measurement of money) before going on a journey. When he comes back, all of them have invested their talents in order to gain more. All but one. One servant buried his talent out of fear. Then the servants who had gained more talents by investing them were invited to share in their master’s happiness. And the other lost all he had.
If we bury our talents out of fear or selfishness, we are doing a disservice to God and to the people of the earth who may not have the same resources or opportunities that we do. I certainly have dreams. And goals. I want to work as a type designer. I want to be a photo journalist. I want to go to grad school. I want to live on the road and be a freelancer. But I know I must be careful and assess whether or not I’m burying my talents with the choices I make and the dreams that I strive for.
I didn’t go to college to be stagnant. I don’t want to be tied to a linear plan for success. I want to be in a perpetual state of growth and stimulation. And I want to help others to the same. So I suppose that’s my dream. That’s what I’m going to DO. I’m going to BE. I’m going to be in the places where the underrepresented and the hurting are kneeling. And I’m going to work where they need me so we can help stop the bleeding. Sometimes my dreams of physical spaces and job opportunities might overlap with the being. Sometimes they might not. But I’m making the decision not to worry about it too much. There will always be another thing to do. But I don’t want to miss it for all the moments that I could get to be.