Dream big and don't lose sight of that dream

If you truly want something, it's rarely easy.

Life is going to pass you by if you sit back and wait on things to come to you. So many negative influences are all around to stop you in your tracks and hinder you from accomplishing your goals.

You're either going to fall victim to your circumstances or fight and find out that you're stronger than you ever imagined.

I have experienced a variety of obstacles and hurdles from my freshman year of college, all the way until now, a graduate of the University of Mississippi and an intern at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Honestly, I have experienced obstacles all my life, having been born and raised in one of the top five worst cities in America in terms of crime -- Memphis, Tenn.

Two things are expected of young black males in Memphis: funerals and court dates. The stereotype is to either play sports or rap, but my mind, heart and spirit are much greater. It's a blessing that I even made it to college, let alone graduate. Now I have lofty expectations of myself.

No matter where you grew up or what college you attend, everyone is faced with peer pressure at some point in life.

One more shot, one more drink, try this, or try that. If you know it's not for you, say no.

Procrastination, staying out late when you know you have an 8 a.m. class, not studying for a test, not completing your work -- every action has a consequence.

Trust me, I found out early how much free time you have in college, but you have to know when to crack down and be serious about your work.

I remember after my first day of classes I returned to my dorm room and asked myself, "What's next?" High school was structured. You were told what to do and you went home to your parents. In college, you have to be responsible for yourself.

Set short-term and long-term goals and have tunnel vision when it comes to achieving them. You have to stay focused and not let outside influences steer you away from your goals.

You should always stay on top of your work in class and get into the habit of completing assignments ahead of time. I had a planner in college that saved my life on numerous occasions. Organization is the key to maintaining a steady flow of class, work, athletics, Greek life or whatever you choose to do.

Never sweat the small things, do not stress and, most importantly, breathe.

I know things can get out of hand, but never let rough situations get the best of you. When you are feeling overwhelmed, stand still, inhale then exhale, and tell yourself, "I got this."

Even when a situation may seem like too much to handle, too stressful and too much of a burden, you have to believe the sun will shine soon in your life.

Whatever you may choose as your major, become the best at it, don't just try to say, "I did it."

I want to be the best because I know deep down inside anything is possible if you pour your heart into it.

Ask yourself, do you really want success, or do you just "kind of want it?" Never let "no" and "can't" keep you from pushing forward.

Don't become fixated on what's happening on the outside if you don't have everything on the inside under control.

Find out what drives you, what ignites the flame inside, what fuels you. Is it your family? Your friends? Your faith? Your will to become successful? The fear of failure? To come from nothing but suddenly have everything?

Let your experiences guide you to help you figure this out.

If you can lean on your family and friends for help and support, then that is a plus.

If you aren't able to lean on your family, then develop a network of friends -- as well as professors -- you can truly count on. I developed great relationships with my professors, and I still keep in contact with them.

Even if you fall short, never give up. Stand up, dust yourself off and try again.

You have to dream big, real big.

Don't sell yourself short of your abilities when you can tap into strength and perseverance you never thought existed.

If you don't believe in yourself, who will?


Kelton Brooks, who was an intern at the Post-Gazette, graduated from the University of Mississippi this year with a major in journalism. He can be reached at localnews@post-gazette.com. First Published October 3, 2013 4:00 AM


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