Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Opportunities

I wrote this post in the spring of 2012 about a month before I graduated from Florida International University. I've slightly revised and reposted it for those who may be getting ready to graduate from college or who are presented with an opportunity to do something awesome.

Many call America the “Land of Opportunity.”

My grandparents and parents fled Cuba to come here almost 50 years ago because their opportunities were stripped away from them. So they came here and made this place home. They had an opportunity to reclaim opportunity and they took hold of it so that my brother and I might have opportunities of our own one day.

It was not easy. It was not convenient. But they did it anyway, because it was what needed to be done.

The direction of our lives will be determined by the opportunities we’re presented with and what we do with them.

We won’t be able to say yes to everything. I’ve turned down some opportunities, good opportunities, while accepting others. Those decisions are the most revealing. They reflect where my heart is, reveal my true priorities and determine my direction. We all have to make those tough decisions.

My four years at FIU have provided me with opportunities to discover my true passions. Opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. Opportunities to excel and learn from individuals who have been where I want to go. Opportunities to go to places I’ve never been. Opportunities to forge friendships that I hope last a lifetime.

And the sum of all these opportunities has allowed me to discover what God has in store for me: a life filled with direction, with focus, with purpose and with hope.

It will be a time that I will be forever grateful for. I was blessed with the opportunity to get an education that some members of my family never had a chance to receive, and I thank God for it.

So many times we take opportunities for granted, letting them pass us by like the strangers we walk by daily and allowing them to slip away.

My hope and prayer is that you do not let them pass by. Take a chance. Take a leap of faith. Instead of ignoring or stifling your life-long passions and interests, embrace them and chase after them.

Never miss an opportunity to learn something new. I don’t think a day has gone by where I haven’t learned something I hadn’t learned before about the world around me or about people. Or even about myself.

The learning process does not stop when we check out of the classroom or when we clock out for summer break or when receive our degrees. It stops when we stop seeking, searching and asking the questions we need to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and search for truth.

And most importantly, find opportunities to love people. Find ways to invest into the lives of those around you, because there is nothing more thrilling or more exhilarating than watching lives change. To lead others into leadership. To share in the success and joy of those we helped build up.

The knowledge we gain should not be jammed into a jar, locked up and stored away out of reach. It should be poured out constantly. Into friends, family, colleagues, classmates and anyone willing to listen.

What are you leaving behind for those who will follow in your footsteps? How will you be remembered? What will be your legacy?

It is never too early to start making a difference. You are never too young to lead. And it is never too late to start over again.

As I step out in faith into the next chapter of my life, there is always that shred of doubt that lingers about the future. The unknown. Faith is not faith if there is no doubt.

But I am confident of this: I know that my future is brighter than my present. That my tomorrow will be better than my today. That while old opportunities may be expiring, new ones lie ahead.

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