Life is filled with expectations. We’re supposed to act and feel a certain way, supposed to walk a line and pursue a path that was laid out before us. We’re encouraged to chase realistic dreams, become people with occupations and goals that make sense. Along the way we’re told to be ourselves, but when we’re pulled in so many different directions sometimes it’s impossible to even know what that means.
Ultimately, though, it is not about the careers we choose or the roles we play. It’s not about how ‘quickly’ our story shifts or even the direction we go. It’s not about how long it takes to get ‘there’—to whatever ‘there’ is. What matters, in the end, is how we live and what we give.
And perhaps, above all, the greatest gift you can offer the world is your heart.
You will not always do the right thing. When you’re faced with a conflicting situation, you may choose the wrong answer or head down the messiest road. You may love someone who isn’t right for you, may get your heart broken, may fail and fall down.
Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, life will change, leaving you breathless. You might speak too quickly, letting evil words slip out of your mouth. Or you might not say anything at all, even when you know you should.
But regardless, what matters is not the moments you falter, but what you can give. What matters most is not being perfect—because you’ll never be—but sharing your heart and soul with the world around you.
You can offer smarts and talents, well-meaning words and all the money in your wallet. You can offer the food on your plate and the opinions dancing in circles in your head. There are plenty of things you can share, especially as you grow into the person you’re meant to be.
But your greatest asset is not your money, your looks, your personality—it’s your heart.
With your heart, you can make an impact. You can shift someone’s negative thoughts to positive, you can turn an entire conversation around. With your heart, you can give someone love when they’re in a desperate situation. You can show a person that there is, in fact, something to live for. And you can help them see their worth once again.
With your heart, you can make a difference. You can remove shadows from the darkest corners; you can open new possibilities with the turn of your smile. You can show people what it means to forgive and let go, and how to move on from a painful past. When people are longing for answers, you can hold onto them—not to save them, but to bring them light.
The greatest gift you can offer the world is your heart. It is your heart that changes people, your heart that brings those around you peace. In a society that pushes you to grow, to shift, and to fit molds, let yourself stand firm in the rhythm of your chest.
You are not a perfect person and will never be. Oftentimes you will say one thing and do another, or purposely go against the guidelines set before you. You will break and get broken. But you love—you love—and sometimes that is enough.