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It’s Okay to Prioritize Yourself Before Your Career

When we are little, everyone asks us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer changes, for most of us, several times before we discover what we actually want. There’s this moment though, in everyone’s journey where it hits them all at once, the magical feeling of, “This. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” That feeling is inspiring, motivational, and so fulfilling. From that moment on, you look at life like it’s your oyster, and you are so beyond prepared to do the work to reach your goals. 

We commonly find ourselves perceiving our career paths as linear, as if there’s a checklist of tasks before reaching your dreams. While it seems like so, that is not the case, and it never will be. 

“Gabriela Guevara, Attorney at Law,” is something I have been manifesting since I was a little girl. I used to get really sad, super randomly, as a kid, and I would always tell my mom that my heart hurts and I don’t know why. She said that when someone that is close to you or will be in the future, is sad, you can feel it in your heart, as well. It made me realize that someone always knows someone else and that in the world we live in, someone is always sad. Little me was appalled by this because that added up to a lot of aching hearts. As I matured, I discovered that a lot of the pain inflicted on people is at the fault of the government and that it is the law’s job to correct that. All I know is that I want to help people.

The world, as it very much should be, is my oyster, and I do see it as such. However, as I keep progressing towards my goals, I have found that as much as I enjoy planning out every aspect of my life, life doesn’t work that way. When I was 18 I received the best news I possibly could; I was accepted into an amazing social justice program in New York City. Up until that point, my life was going according to plan. When I got there, I was grieving the first death in my family, suffered from disordered eating, and being three years into the Trump administration, could not stand politics. These things, clearly, were not a part of my plan and I let that consume me. 

Great opportunities, I’ve learned, don’t wait for you to be ready. They come and if you’re not at your best, they go. No one told me that when they asked me what I wanted to be, no one would warn you about the bad. I was in such a bad place, I did very little to no work and got put on probation (the only freshman to ever have received probation during the first semester). Like sand through my fingertips, I vividly felt my dreams slipping out of my hands. 



The thing about the bad, it’s inevitable, and that’s okay. No dream will be achieved without obstacles. No plan will be seen through without hiccups. The work that matters most is the work you do to pull yourself back up. Great opportunities won’t wait for you, but the ones that don’t simply weren’t meant for you, I find that so comforting. It is so easy to believe that self-sabotage is my primary enemy, to blame myself for what I had to go through. It takes courage to tell yourself that is not the case, because the truth is, what’s for you will be for you when it is. Life is full of obstacles, but life is also not a race. Life is not a competition, not against others, and not against yourself. 

So, we move forward and begin again. Every time. I now have an incredible internship at the Colorado State Senate’s office, and I wake up every morning excited and motivated to do the work. I am able to start over because I decided that the bad was not any worse than the good, but just required more attention. No job, no opportunity, no dream is worth your sanity. You will never check off the last task on your list if you are in a constant battle with yourself. My dear, understand that in order for your light to shine in the eyes of others, you must nurture the flame within you. 


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Photo by Jens Leslie from Unsplash

When we were kids, before a lot of any of the bad, our dreams weren’t limited. What a fabulous feeling, a glorious vision. My advice is that before you blame the mirror for your mistakes, your lack of work ethic, your wandering passions, ask the mirror what you need, and how to heal. Cleanse your heart from any rejection, your soul from any regret, and your mind from any worry. Believe in your magic.

My mom is an elementary school teacher. I remember being at her school one time when all of the kindergartners had their “When I Grow Up, I’ll be a…” project hanging on the wall in the hallway. Most of them said doctor, firefighter, or princess. One kid, however, wanted to be a tree, and I still find that so cute. Truthfully, we are all trees and should strive to be the biggest, strongest tree in the forest. We all have a dream, but life is full of storms and wind. How beautiful is it to think that after every winter, we still bud, we still bloom. You have all the same power, as a tree, to provide people with fresh air and look pretty doing it. Water your roots, darling, then begin again.

Gabriela Guevara

CU Boulder '23

Gabriela Guevara is a sophomore from Thornton, Colorado. She is working towards a degree in Political Science and law. She plans on practicing Immigration Law in the future.
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