Having hopes and dreams is a huge part of growing up. My dreams changed almost as often as my nail polish color when I was younger.

First, I wanted to be a doctor, but my best friend wanted to be one too and at that age, having the same career goals as your best friends is completely unacceptable. So then, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved the movie “Dr. Doolittle.” Then the inflatable planetarium or “star lab” came to my elementary school and I wanted to be an astronaut. In middle school, I wanted to be an art teacher.

Then in high school, I took a photography class and wanted to be a photojournalist. I hated most of the work we did in that class now that I’ve thought about it. I think I just liked getting a pass out of study hall to hang out in the darkroom to develop photos.

I guess I saved myself a little time and money by avoiding that one.

I didn’t know what any of it meant. Growing up and making important decisions was something that seemed so far away. When it was time to actually think about what I wanted to do with my life, reality slapped me in the face. If I couldn’t decide what kind of cereal I wanted for breakfast, how was I supposed to choose a career path at 18-years-old?

When we’re younger, we’re encouraged to reach for the stars and achieve the hopes and dreams we had. I wanted to be valedictorian of my high school class and go to Harvard or Princeton like Hilary Duff did in the movie “A Cinderella Story.” Then, chemistry and precalc made me want to pull my hair out in frustration. I learned quickly that becoming a mathematician or scientist wasn’t for me. I chose journalism and I wanted to go to a college somewhat close to home, so Plattsburgh State it was.

A lot of my friends decided to stay home for a year and go to the local community college. They’re paying more to take classes that count towards a major they weren’t sure they would stick with. I was unsure, but I decided I needed to leave home.

Coming here by myself was scary and jumping head first into independence was terrifying at first, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve grown apart from some of my friends because we really can’t relate to each other as much as we used to and that makes me sad, but I know I did what was best for my future.

I could have followed my heart and went against my parents advice and chose art as a major, but I really think I am the person I am today because of the experiences I’ve had over the past two years in my journalism program.

I originally planned on switching my newspaper journalism major to broadcast journalism because I wanted to be the next Barbara Walters. I decided to stick with newspaper journalism and by the end of my second semester I knew print journalism was the right path for me. I never thought I would add public relations as a second major, but I can honestly say that I love it now.

I wanted to join every club I could and spend my free time doing fun things with my friends. Then sophomore years rolls around and now I had to schedule a time to do my laundry three days in advance and my roommates and best friends see me for 20 minutes at the end of the day.

Time management and being organized had been completely thrown out the window and my planner has become a huge mess of sticky notes and highlighted half written, half scribbled thoughts. I wouldn’t change a thing though, because it’s made me appreciate the time that I get to spend with the people who I care about.

What I’m really trying to say is that having dreams is great, but accept the fact they might never become a reality. Being open to change and learning to let go of your old dreams in order to make new ones is just part of growing up. Sometimes the thing you’d never dream of can turn out to be exactly what needed, you just had no clue that you even wanted it.

Email Madison Winters at madison.winters@cardinalpointsonline.com

<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/madison-winters/" rel="tag">Madison Winters</a>