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By: Jamie Collins

Dear Self,

There are some things you need to know. You may have no idea where the path of life will lead you, but I’m here to tell you that it’s to some pretty amazing places. Places you never knew you’d end up, down paths you never knew you would walk.

You’ll meet a lot of really amazing people on the journey. These people will range from supportive friends and co-workers to social media colleagues, and successful attorneys. You may not realize it now,  but you will encounter some fairly high profile esquires in your time. These attorneys will take a special interest in you. They will teach you everything you need to know. They will be there to help guide you down the path when you most lack vision and a clear idea of where you’re headed. There will be times when you will need to substitute their vision, guidance, and confidence in you and your abilities, for your own. They will help you get to where you need to be. They will see in you what your dad saw in you all those years: the person he knew you could become. Be extremely grateful and appreciative for all of the fantastic people that enter your life as you walk it. Be sure to respond with gratitude. Pay them back by making it clear that their belief in you is part of the reason you will make it down that blurry path to the true you.

Along with the helpful folks, you’ll also run into some less than desirable people. These people may attempt to steer you off the path. Don’t let them. Do not allow them to drag your positive energy or pleasant attitude down with their own. These people will often react with criticism, harshness or a lack of civility. They don’t really mean you any harm – they just never found a better path to walk. Perhaps they didn’t have all of those supportive and helpful people you had to encourage, support and guide them on their own path. Walk alongside them when you must, but never lower your own standards, compromise your integrity or lessen your spirit in doing so. Remember, people do take notice of those who show up each day to school or work (or anywhere else) with confidence, a positive attitude, a willingness to try, a kind word, and a smile. Never allow anyone to take that from you. Never compromise yourself to a lesser standard. Never allow yourself to become a lesser person.

Trust your gut instinct. You have it for a reason. Writer and poet, Maya Angelou once said, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” You should carry this piece of advice with you always. There is nothing wrong with wanting to give others the benefit of the doubt or wishing to seek the good in those around you, but when someone shows you their true colors – see them. This will save you a great deal of disappointment, frustration, and time.

Realize that it’s okay for you not to know all the answers. It’s also okay for you to lack a clear vision of where you’re headed. Just continue to put one foot in front of the other and you will make your way down the intended path. It is better to be on the wrong path than no path at all. You always have the ability to redirect yourself, and your destiny. Remember that time in college when you really wanted to major in psychology, but after researching the profitability of the psychology profession (or lack thereof), decided not to follow that passion? Don’t worry – you will find another career path that is ideally suited for you. It will be in the paralegal field. It will be a place you’ll learn to call home. It’s certainly not an easy profession to master, but once you do, you will establish not only a career path, but tap into an undiscovered area of passion, and find your true calling.

Do not be afraid to find yourself. You will make many mistakes along the way. These mistakes will teach, educate, and guide you. Learn from them. In finding what you don’t like to do and what you aren’t good at, you will unlock a wealth of talent lurking within you. Every skill, ability, and talent is yours to embrace, hone, and utilize to the best of your ability. You will only walk the path of life for a limited time, so throw everything you have at the world. Make it your canvas. In doing so, you will discover who you truly are. Pursue every passion, ambition, and spark of potential within you, and allow no “what if” to lay dormant or undiscovered.

Listen closely: I am about to tell you something very important. It is, perhaps, the most important advice I will give you in this letter. You will need to keep this one thing in the forefront of your mind as you walk down the entire path of your career. Your number one enemy will not be lack of growth, opportunity, personal ability, knowledge or choices;  it will be complacency. Let me say that again because it is important: You must avoid complacency. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable in one’s job. There is also nothing wrong with being so effective and knowledgeable that you can execute everything that comes your way with complete confidence and little effort. However, there will be key times in your career when you will know it’s time to move on. The first signal of a need for change will be a feeling of boredom; a lack of challenge; a fork in the road when you know one path doesn’t allow much room for growth, and you should venture down the other. Never be afraid to make a change. Do not fear the variables on that other path and things you can’t possibly know until you walk it. Be strategic. Make good choices. Look ahead as best as you can with the information you have.

Never be afraid to leave one place as an expert to enter unchartered waters enveloped in a slight state of insecurity and apprehension. That nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach is called “growth.” You will learn, over time, that when you are a bit nervous or apprehensive about something new, that is precisely when you are growing the most, both personally and professionally. Never allow that feeling to stop you. Embrace it. Allow it to take you to where you are destined to go. Never allow your thoughts to stall your growth or your future. Do not allow your fears to squelch your potential. Do not slow down. Don’t stop. Continue to walk the path. Seize every potential opportunity of interest that comes your way. You are destined for great things.

Heed my advice, my friend. I have walked the path you now walk. I know where you’re headed, and all of the great things you are going to do when you get there. Don’t let anything prevent you from walking the path or taking the detours to find the ideal you. I know who she is. You do, too. Continue to put one foot in front of the other, have faith in yourself, and your abilities. Enjoy the people and scenery. Wake up each day ready to seize every single opportunity or interesting “what if” that comes your way with a radiant enthusiasm. Do not allow anything or anyone to steal your spirit or passion. Make the choice, walk the path, embrace the fear, and live your life.

You are headed to big places. The only one who has the ability to stall your journey is you.

The Real You