I'm proud to say that I'm one of them.
This week I join a brave, small crew known as the new freshman class at Pulaski Technical College's Culinary Institute. It was such a relief to find myself not only NOT the oldest student in the classroom, but in the solid middle range of students both in age and culinary experience. I was inspired hearing the stories around me as my fellow classmates introduced themselves. One woman told how she had gratuated in 1979 with a food science degree and has worked in test kitchens across America for prestigious companies including Kraft and Southern Living. She's starting a new chapter, hoping to become a professor someday. Another student was a man from Lebanon who is in the midst of becoming an American citizen. He has travelled the world but now hopes to settle here in Arkansas and share his love for Mediterranean food with those of us here in the south, bringing a new level of authenticity to a growing market. Frankly, I found my own story boring after hearing about the obstacles others have overcome and how they long for something big and beautiful that they can point to and say, "I created that!"
As some declared their desire to own a restaurant or a small hotel, or, as one girl stated, to become a Master of Wine (a very prestigious honor only bestowed on a few people in the entire world!) I had to admit humbly to the room, "I still have no idea what I want to do when I graduate, but I want to feed people."
Our professor challenged us to think about our own story and how we can share that with the world. "In the end," he said, "people just want to be a part of your story." It's funny how I feel like I've been searching for my story for a while now. I'm such a jumble of passions and pursuits. Am I a writer? A homeschool mom? A housewife? A cook? Truthfully, I am all of those things... and more. I'm a child of God. I'm a seeker, a curious deep thinker. I'm a servant, looking for my place. I'm a people-gatherer. I want to fill the table with good food, surround it with people who need to be reminded they're loved, and fill them up so they can go out and spread that love and joy to others.
Do you know someone going back to school as an adult? Please, encourage them this week. Cheer them on! It's a scary thing to start over again, seeking out a new purpose and a new direction. Let's spread some love this week and let them know we are rooting for them. Your words might be just what they need to face that first day of school... and a whole new life.