It’s Not All About the Destination

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“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau

When I was a child growing up in Northern Indiana, my family took one big vacation.  My father packed us into the Pontiac and we drove to Colorado.  We spent three days on the road getting there and three days coming back.  This allowed us to spend three days in Central Colorado.

Years later, when I was talking with my father about our big vacation, all he recalled was that the weather was terrible all three days we were in Colorado.  It rained in the low country and was terribly cold up in the mountains.  What I remembered was that we had a wonderful adventurous journey.  My dad’s whole focus was on where we were going.  As a result, he missed two-thirds of our only big family vacation.

Graduate studies take a great deal of time and energy.  They demand a level of commitment much greater than those that came before.  We put in more hours.  We struggle.  We get frustrated.  We run into obstacles.  We overcome.

Why do we do this?  I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself.  I am a dreamer. There are things I want to achieve.  I am pursuing my degree as another step in my dreams.

So many students see their degree as the goal or as the achievement.  We become so caught up in getting the degree or getting through the current semester that we miss the incredible experience we’re living every day.  So many of us become so focused on where we’re going that we miss out on some amazing moments on the way there.

When I came across the quote I opened with, it made me smile.  I don’t think Thoreau is saying that if we move confidently in the direction of our dreams, that when we achieve them we can live the life we have imagined.  Rather, I believe we can only live the life we imagine if we are confidently pursuing our dreams.  Another of my favorite Thoreau quotes validates my reasoning.  “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake”.

Pursuing a graduate degree will be a lot of work.  You will need to devote an enormous amount of time and energy to it.  Despite that, you can and should enjoy earning it as much as receiving it.  And if you ever take a road trip to Colorado, don’t miss all of the great thing between here and there.



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