When you first learned how to ride a bike, what was the hardest part about it? For me, it was this idea that we could start moving our feet, the wheels would then follow, and somehow we were supposed to avoid falling over while we moved our feet even faster. How were the wheels supposed to keep moving forward if there was nothing keeping them up? It never made sense to me until those wheels did start moving, I was actually pulling it off, and I looked down to realize that there was something keeping it up: me.
I was having so much trouble understanding the dynamics and what was going to happen that it didn’t make any sense until I tried it for myself… I was overthinking it. Riding a bike was like writing an essay I wanted to be perfect, or applying to just the right colleges (at least a few safety schools), so my future could be something I wanted. As with all big decisions, it wasn’t quite about things being perfect or finding a way to get it all just right. Things never work out that way, especially when we want them to. And riding a bike? That was never going to happen by thinking about it… Not to steal the words from Nike or anything, but sometimes, you’ve got to just do it.
And don’t overthink it.
A lot of people are just beginning a new chapter of their lives, from senior year or a new job, to applying for colleges or starting at one. These chapters began with decisions, ones that were oftentimes excruciatingly hard to make and sometimes hard to follow through on. But in the end, your feet are going to move, those pedals will take you forward, and you will end up right where you need to be. As cliché as it seems, every ending really is just a new beginning.
Back when I committed to Howard University, I almost made that decision by flipping a coin. No, seriously. Because I kept looking for someone to tell me what to do, to make the choice for me, so I could lift that weight off my shoulders. The situation felt like sink or swim, and me? I felt the Titanic. Thing is, oftentimes, we have all the answers we need. Whether it is picking a college, finding classes, or figuring out what the next step is, sometimes that step forward is to take a step back.
That’s the thing about growing up, about responsibility. People have raised us, shaped us, mentored us, even pushed us to the breaking point, just to get us to where we are right now. Everything you have ever done has gotten you to where you are, you’ve just got to decide if that is really where you want to be. Maybe it has been a long year of trying to get there and maybe you are beginning to doubt yourself just a little bit. But whether things have been easy so far or not, there will always be hard decisions to make and others that perhaps we wish we hadn’t. Looking at my eighteen years, I know I have made some pretty big choices already; to publish my book, what I want to major in, where I’m going to college… They all changed the course of my life, put me on a new path to my future.
That last one though, that final decision… It was like riding a bike.
Because I chose Howard University back in May, across the country in Washington D.C., a 6 hour plane ride away. Yet somehow, when I looked down, those wheels had turned in a different direction and I was keeping myself up. Because in about two weeks, I will be right where I am supposed to be at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. And that is where my new beginning will start, one foot in front of the other.
So yes, this isn’t what I had planned to do and this really isn’t where I thought I would end up. But after so many years of wisdom and mentoring, from my parents, my teachers, and especially my peers, maybe it’s time I began trusting myself. It is time I began trusting my future. Because I have got dreams I want to chase and aspirations I wish to become… I cannot get there if I’m so focused on getting those wheels to start turning. I have to trust that I can keep them going, that I can just do it, and make it there. When those decisions come around, we all need to remember how to take a step back, take a deep breath, and don’t overthink it.
Got any stories about the path you’re on or a time you trusted where those wheels would take you? Contact me or tell me about it in the comments below and don’t forget to follow my blog or my twitter page!