Today was one of those days. Like the title suggests, it was one of those glorious, beautiful days where I knew, within the shadow of a doubt, that where I am in my life is exactly where I need to be. I hope and pray that you all know exactly what I’m talking about. Those days when things come together for you in such a way that it seems like the stars are aligned. You run into people who mean the world to you and they say just what you need to hear. You have perfect timing when it comes to what you do in your day, because things just fall in line. It’s the idea that “all is as it should be.”
Obviously, that means that there had to be something that made me get to that point. For me, it was my COM312 class with Dr. Rob Dornsife. A radically unique and brilliant English professor, Dr. Dornsife engages our class in a way that I have never experienced before in my life. He challenges us to think beyond and outside the way in which society forms us to think – encouraging us to understand reality for ourselves rather than go with the flow of tradition. Our class is officially titled Mass Media and Modern Culture, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Each day, we spend the 75 minutes questioning everything about the nature of language – inclusivity, exclusivity, immutability, and so on. He uses crazy examples and engages the class by his dramatic way of lecturing and moving about, getting in the faces of students and nearly yelling sometimes. Add in to your (already probably pretty interesting) idea of him in your head that he is a 6’6″ish lean 40-something year old, always donning a dress shirt, Dockers, and Air Jordans. Yep. So needless to say, I look forward to his class every Tuesday and Thursday; I have come to realize that I will never be bored by him.
So when he started off class today and said that it was going to be a bit different, I felt a mix of emotions. He seemed pretty serious, and explained that he was going to talk about this particular subject to all of us because he had been asked about it by three separate students from the class all in one day. I glanced over at my roommate, wondering what it could be. I definitely didn’t expect it to be what he spent the next 65 minutes talking about.
He posed the question “Why are you in college? – Like, why do you actually come here? Why do you go through this system?” Everyone in the class was smart enough to realize that this was an epically rhetorical question, and he was going to answer it for us.
I can say with confidence that he then launched in to one of the most meaningful and memorable lectures I have ever been blessed enough to witness. As he said, “I’m telling you this because it scares the hell out of me that I might be the only one who ever says it to you.” He told us that we go to college for two reasons: to hone our passion, and to get a credential in it. Dornsife then pointed out how many people go about college the wrong way, honing something that they’re not passionate about to get a job that they then will be miserable with.
Perhaps most memorably, he said “The only chance we have to succeed in life is if we have the courage to follow our passion.” I love that he used the phrase “have the courage to,” meaning that not only do we all have a passion (or more than one), but we also all have the capability to follow it. Nothing is out of reach. Rather, what he focuses on is the necessity for us to have the COURAGE to follow the thing that we are passionate about. He went on and on, explaining how passion drives us in a way that money and dreams of wealth can never do.
The second time that I was simply struck by his words was when he said “If you live your life based on what other people expect of you, that will only get you to miserable mediocrity. This is because you will be beaten every time by the person who you work with who is actually passionate about what you’re doing.” Wow, right?
This lecture was simply too good for me to keep to myself, or within the confines of the classroom walls. I wish this post would give you the full experience of being there, but there is absolutely no way I can re-create it. So I gave you my best shot at sharing the wisdom.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all day. After I left class, I walked around in a daze of “mind blown” status for a good hour. One thing that came to me during this time was the quote by Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Subsequently, I thought of the quote by Frederick Buechner when it comes to figuring out what that thing is that makes you come alive: “The place to which God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
What makes you come alive? Where do you find your deep gladness? And more importantly, do you have the courage to pursue it? I wish you well.