These four words happen to be the best piece of advice anyone has ever told me during my first year in college.

I’d love to share with you how to be more than just acceptable but exceptional in everything and anything you wish to do.
But before I get to that, a story is needed.

For me, it was my writing that I always believed was simply “acceptable.”

Before I began my freshman year of college, all my teachers in high school would tell me “write about what you know.” It was helpful, to an extent. I knew things, but don’t we all? I felt simply “knowing things” and writing about them was not enough to convince anyone that what you had to say whether it be in a poem, story, essay, song, you name it, was worth reading about. I wanted my words to be compelling.

I admit, my teachers would say my writing was good and I thought so too. However, I felt that something was lacking in my writing. My papers were good, but I did not feel they were great. By great, I do not mean that I wanted to outshine other students so I could relish in the satisfaction of receiving an A plus and hearing “good job.” By great, I mean I wanted to leave an impact on the people who would read my writing. I wanted to leave a piece of me with those readers so by the time they finish reading the concluding sentence, they cannot help but smile because they know I have succeeded in making that impact on them.

So flash forward to spring quarter of last year, Intro to Cultural Anthropology, sitting in a lecture hall filled to max capacity of 400 students. And out of those 400 students, my Professor pulls me aside to tell me, “Your essay is well written. However, surpass acceptable and be exceptional. And I don’t mean just in your papers.” From that moment on, I began writing, not based on what I know, but based on what I feel. By doing that, I found what my writing was lacking: true passion.

And I have carried that passion into every other aspect of my life, making sure that anything I do or wish to do will always be nothing less than exceptional.

However, writing what I aimed to be nothing less than exceptional was not without its challenges. I would sit for hours on end or wander around my house or walk outside until I felt I had something within me I could transfer down on paper. I would not write anything down I felt that was not worth reading so my writing process did take a significant amount of time. But the moment I felt that spark, that “I finally got it” feeling, I would then sit and write, until I felt the job was done, pouring my ideas, my thoughts, and ultimately, myself into what needed to be said.

It took one person to tell me that I had the capability to be more than what I thought I was.

To be exceptional, you must be willing to believe that you CAN do what you believe you cannot.

You must be willing to explore that part of you that you did not even know existed.

And lastly, you just have to believe that you are.

Simple right? No matter how difficult or ridiculous.

When you believe you are exceptional, it is amazing how you suddenly realize you always were.

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