The other day my roommate and I were talking about people that we were friends with in high school and how we are glad we decided to go to college. We also talked about how we both went through a phase where we thought we could do anything and not get into trouble. The friends we had back in high school who decided not to go to college seem to still be in that phase; however, I don't think it's a phase anymore—it's their lifestyle. That's the path they chose and that's how they want to spend their lives. At the age of 19, they are content with working a minimum-wage job, sometimes on a graveyard shift. I still consider these people my friends, but it is crazy to think how different our paths have become in just a short time.  

One of my friends back home who I have known since middle school started his first semester of college this spring. I am so extremely proud of him. When we graduated high school and everyone was leaving for college, he stayed home and worked every day. One day last summer he woke up and said, “I am not doing this for the rest of my life.” That day, he began his college search. When he called me—I'm not going to lie, I teared up. From the day we met, I knew he was going to do something with his life. I knew he had potential, but he just did not see it. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do—whether it’s on the softball field, coaching swimmers or even just in my friendships—is motivate someone who does not want to be motivated. I am not saying I am the reason he changed his life, but I would like to think I played a small part by encouraging him along the way.

Life is about learning. You learn what to do and what not to do, and it takes some people longer to learn than others. My roommate’s friends are still learning about life, and hopefully they will soon realize the potential they have and act on it. It took my friend seven years to change for the better. If you have friends like this, encourage them. Everyone needs someone to kick them in the butt and help them make decisions. Since I can remember, I have told my friend a quote by Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Every time I told him this, he looked at me like I was crazy because he didn’t understand what I meant. Last year, when he was on his college search, he called me and said, “Kali, I get it. I finally get what you were telling me all those years. If I want the world to change, I have to change first.” Now, I am not a mother, but I tell you what—I sure felt like one when he told me that. I am so incredibly proud of him and cannot wait to see what he does.

“Live the life you love, love the life you live.” The second you do not, you must change something. “Be the change you wish to see in the world."