To anyone reading this, I am not yet world-renowned. I do not make millions. I have not saved kittens from a burning building, and my student loan debt-to-income ratio suggests that peanut butter, no-jelly sandwiches are my meal of choice for the next eight years. This is the life I have always dreamed of. Nobody said this is what I had to do. There is a driving force within me that placed me here and with every broken road traveled, my dreams become a reality, more and more each day.
I could tell a story about how my life was full of struggles growing up poor in a single-parent home, with a mom who had six children in Section-8 housing, a multitude of entry level jobs, and an 11th grade education. I remember moving around at least seven times before high school and being flat out homeless, living in a car. I could attempt to strike emotional chords and talk about my father, the drug addict and dealer who was in and out of prison my entire life. Even in my early 20’s, I still believed in my father and his ability to change and be a better man. When he failed, it hurt me deeply. It was a powerful, yet strange setback, because he really had not been a significant part of my life. But, do their choices really influence the drive inside of me? Some would say, “Yes, sure it does.” In all honesty, I don’t know.
Whatever the cause is for my drive, I know that my life isn’t much different from the people I grew up with, went to school with, and sauntered the streets with. I believe many of us are alike. What makes us different is how we choose to dream. Dreams are not given to us, if they cannot be achieved or should not be pursued. What separates the mere dreams from the achievers is the drive to chase down those dreams in spite of our setbacks and struggles.
Life is full of disappointment.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy.
Having the tenacity to get back up after you have fallen, and move forward is what defines us. Too many people let uncontrollable circumstances control their outcome. We are given the opportunity to work toward our dreams; it takes initiative, hard work, and perseverance to live it.
There comes a point in life where we become responsible for our soul, hope, love, joy, happiness and sadness. Through faith anything is possible. We do not have to be newer versions of our circumstances, rather we can assume control of our surroundings and become better versions of ourselves, breaking the cycle, and creating a new history for those who emerge after us.
There is a song called The Greatest by Sia. Whenever I need that extra boost of confidence I like to listen to that song. I can find myself within her words and, for those of you who are searching for direction, find that song that inspires you. Whenever I am tired of fighting against the world, my own personal demons, and I feel like giving in and giving up, these lyrics motivate me.
“Running out of breath, but I got stamina…I see another mountain to climb, but I got stamina…don’t give up, I won’t give up no, no, no…I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive, I’m free to be the greatest, THE GREATEST!
Find worth in yourself to be the greatest at whatever it is you choose to do in life. There is no one else that can live the “ONE” life you get, so make it count. While I hurdled some major obstacles from people to whom I gave too much credit and life slapping me in the face a few times, I somehow have ended up right where I am supposed to be. So, dream on, dream big, and dream with audacity. Allow every dream to motivate you. Follow it and never look back. Have the courage to rise above your circumstances. It won’t be easy. It takes sacrifice, hard work, and persistence. Have the audacity to believe in your dreams like no one else, and the fearlessness to actually go out and achieve them. Remember this if nothing else: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will (Kassem).”
P.S. I’m not finished yet!
Tajah Molden Adams
Cristo Rey Kansas City Class of 2010 – Rockhurst University B.S., 2014 – Arizona State University – M.A., 2016
Editor's Note: Tajah Molden Adams entered Cristo Rey Kansas City in 2006. As a member of the school's inaugural freshman class, her high school years were full of firsts. Nearly all of Kansas City turned out to cheer when the first class graduated in the spring of 2010 and took the next step into college. Tajah attended Rockhurst University. Just four years later, Tajah claimed another first when she clutched her college degree. Always aiming for the next milestone, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University in 2016 with a Masters of Arts in Emergency Management. Presently, she works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She asked that Cristo Rey share her "Audacious Dreamer" reflection with the current senior class. Thank you for being an audacious dreamer, Tajah!