The Conversation

Lessons From an Eighteen Year Old

Eighteen-year-old Madeleine McAulay shared some wisdom yesterday.

If you're not familiar with Madeleine, she has made some waves in politics these last few years. She started a blog, released a YouTube video in support of traditional marriage that caused quite a stir, was interviewed by local media in Charlotte, NC, appeared on Fox & Friends and The Blaze, was a vocal supporter of Sarah Palin, and penned a column for Townhall in which she altered her position on gay marriage, among other endeavors.

In other words, she's one gutsy girl. I met Madeleine at CPAC a couple of years ago and my impression was that she was a confident young lady with a lot of opinions she wasn't afraid to explore--or defend.

But I have to say that I think Madeleine's most courageous act was one she shared in a blog post yesterday, a post she titled "Farewell to politics, for now." In it, she writes:

Three years ago, I would have told you that I was going to grow up to be a politician or a Fox News anchor, but after running a political blog, going on Fox News, and experiencing what some would call “success,” I am burned out.

Three years ago, I would have also told you that I was going to go to college right after I graduated high school. Instead, my top school waitlisted me, and I have decided to postpone traditional college for a semester.

Three years ago, I had my life all planned out.

God laughed.

At present, I am completing my final weeks of high school and preparing to go on a three-month adventure through Ecuador and Peru. I leave in September. While I am traveling I will be taking college classes, learning Spanish, volunteering, and exploring. This was not what I had planned. It is so much better!

She goes on to acknowledge that she "loved hearing that my blog served as a catalyst for young conservatives around the country and I am excited to pass my baton to them," and leaves the door open to potentially return to politics one day in the future.

I emailed Madeleine yesterday and she shared the following: "I got out of politics because of who I had become. My life was dark, as are a lot of lives in politics. I'm tired of partisanship and not being able to give credit where credit is due."

I give this young lady a lot of credit. She had the courage to put her opinions out there at a very young age. She wasn't afraid to defend them. She wasn't even afraid to publicly change her mind on an issue and express why. Most importantly, she wasn't afraid to leave politics behind when it no longer felt right, and to pursue what did.

When I was young, I wasn't always so brave. I had some crazy dreams; they were at times impractical and extraordinary, for sure. But I often made the mistake of listening to other people's ideas of who I should become and what I should make of my life. I guess that's one of the reasons why Madeleine's post struck me so much. A little part of me wanted to reach back into my childhood and tell myself that everyone else's well-tailored vision of what my life should look like suited everyone but, well, me. And that sometimes you have to leave behind what doesn't move you in order to discover what does.

Madeleine also reminds me of what I try to make part of every day in my television world--avoiding darkness and giving credit where credit is due. I don't always succeed, but I do my very best to try.

So, kudos to Madeleine for following her heart. As I said to her on twitter, "Follow your heart, don't forget your head, and remember to never spend your time living someone else's dream!"

And to those who say there are no lessons to be learned from the young, I promise you that they prove you wrong every day.

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila


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