Dear Sean

Well, it doesn’t matter what I think, but there are enough overachievers in the world, busy BEING things.


I’m embarrassed to be writing you, but I’m so confused with life. All my friends know what they want to do and I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m in my second year at Troy and am lost. Help me.



I know what you can be. Be you.

This world puts big pressure on you to BE something. They’ll tell you to BE successful, BE studious, BE punctual, BE a straight-A student, BE involved. Be this, be that.

Well, it doesn’t matter what I think, but there are enough overachievers in the world, busy BEING things.

We need more folks who take time to smile. Waiters, waitresses, pipe-fitters, hair-stylists, neurosurgeons, bartenders, line cooks, cops, Episcopals, musicians, architectural engineers, grass cutters, stick welders, and custodians. People who enjoy life.

I met a man named Paul. Paul is cleaning hotel rooms while I write this. I ran into him in the hotel hallway, ten minutes ago. Paul was pushing his cleaning cart, singing to himself.

Paul is skinny, with a voice as country as cornbread. He cleans hotel rooms every day, even weekends.

He starts early and works late. He runs on energy drinks and granola bars. He makes beds, wrestles dirty towels, scrubs toilets.

And he’s singing.

Paul came from Georgia, eighteen years ago. He has taken jobs washing dishes, doing stucco work, laying concrete, mopping floors. He has a wife and six kids. All healthy.

Paul doesn’t want to BE anything. He’s already something. Paul is happy.

You can be, too. You can also be kind to kids, to your girlfriend, and to yourself. You can be kind to elderly women who unload trunks of groceries. You can visit people in nursing homes.

You can be the one who delivers a gift-basket to a family that just had a baby.

And while you’re at it, be sweet to the child whose daddy left town. Be the only person who calls the girl whose mother died. Be at her funeral. Be available. Be sincere.

Be a good listener—we need more of them. Be gentle to every dog you see. Be concerned about those you love. Be a shoulder. Be brave when you don’t think you can.

Be funny when you’re not supposed to. Be a belly-laugher. Be excited about little things. Be spontaneous. Be lazy. Be easy to talk to. Be easy on yourself.

Be happy for newlyweds. Be jealous of white hair. Be a barbecue lover every day of your cotton-picking life. Be yourself.

Be sad when you’re sad. Be glad when your friends win. Be supportive. Be nice. Be decent.

But then, my advice and a dime will buy you a cup of bad coffee.

The truth is, I’m like you. Sometimes, I don’t know who I am, or where I’m going. There’s a lot I don’t know. And I’m not exactly getting any smarter.

So sure, maybe you feel confused about what your Troy University diploma ought to read. But I’ll bet you a million dollars you know exactly what you want to “be.”

You want to be a good man.

And you’re in good company, son. Because one day I hope to be one, too.


  1. Teresa Lucas - November 13, 2017 2:10 pm

    Love you Sean! You always remind us to BE Kind!

  2. Mary Lee - November 13, 2017 2:18 pm

    Thanks so much for your stories. I just turned 67 and I am trying, after reading this, to be a better grandmother, mother, sister, friend, Christian, and human being. Just striving to be.

  3. Connie - November 13, 2017 2:19 pm

    I don’t know how you do it every day. Make me smile and cry all at the same time. And FYI-you’re already a good man. When you came to Bay Minette, I went to see you and told my granddaughter on the way there that I was nervous about seeing you-that you wouldn’t be the same in person as you come across in your words. Thankfully, you were all that at more. Funny and sincere and really, really nice. With the added bonus of having a really nice voice. I appreciate you, every day.

  4. Jackie Darnell - November 13, 2017 2:27 pm

    Well Sean, I hope you make it as well as the ‘Boy who don’t know!’ Oh well, it is for sure you made this OLD man smile. I too hope to become a good man, but at about 80 time is running out! 😉

  5. Sue Cronkite - November 13, 2017 2:31 pm

    Where did uou find a cup of coffee for a dime?

  6. Sue Cronkite - November 13, 2017 2:31 pm

    you, not uou

  7. Donnie - November 13, 2017 2:48 pm

    DearSean’s are my favorite!

  8. Nicole - November 13, 2017 2:55 pm

    I’m currently writing a letter to my soon-to-be one year-old daughter to add to her time capsule box to read when she turns 18 (seriously difficult to write by the way!). Just wanted you to know that your letter is getting added to the box too!

  9. W. Damain Kerek - November 13, 2017 3:02 pm


  10. jim lyle - November 13, 2017 3:22 pm

    I was that boy.

  11. teachenglish67 - November 13, 2017 3:30 pm

    A long time ago I was wondering the same thing as this young person. A wise person told me, “Pick a career you will totally enjoy because it will be a career filled with joy. If you pick a career for just he money and prestige, you will not be happy; it will just be a job.” I chose teaching and have never regretted it. I loved teaching. Yes, it is not the most glorious career, nor does it pay as much as something else I could have chosen. BUT, I was happy to teach others what they needed to know for life; it was not a job… was a career.

    • Janet Mary Lee - November 14, 2017 3:23 am

      teachenglish67, you always have something special to say, but I have to tell you, I just love your picture of your sweet cat! I think that every time I see it, lol!

      • teachenglish67 - November 14, 2017 3:34 am

        Thank you, Janet Mary Lee, for the kind words. The cat picture is just that. I love unusual markings on cats and the white mustache is perfect on this black and white beauty. I’m glad you like the picture; I do, too, would like to have a cat like that.

  12. Ruth Watts - November 13, 2017 3:53 pm

    Great advice Shawn, love your wisdom!!

  13. Linda Akers - November 13, 2017 3:59 pm

    Darlin, pick up your diploma….you are already a good man Sean. Just ask Mother Mary, or Jaime. If Ellie Mae could talk she would agree. You are loved.

  14. Rene Hodges - November 13, 2017 4:13 pm

    I’m still stuck on the dime cup of coffee!!

  15. Mary - November 13, 2017 4:49 pm

    I’d like a poster with these words.

  16. Diana Williams- McAfee - November 13, 2017 4:50 pm

    Great advice from a wise man! Great letter!!

  17. Jenny Young - November 13, 2017 6:08 pm

    I’m 51 & I’m still thinking about what I want to be when I grow up!

    We put so much pressure on our kids to make choice, decide what they want when they haven’t even lived or tried anything! My son went straight to work our of high school. He didn’t want to waste money on college when he had no idea what he wanted to do.

    He tried some rotten jobs & found out what he didn’t want to do…..which is usually how it works & at least he wasn’t paying someone to learn that. Now he’s 24, married, a father…working a blue color job. But he’s saved tens of thousands of dollars all without a degree. He works hard & has paid off his used truck, is paying off his wife’s car & their mortgage. Most of his high school friends are just finishing school finishing college with mountains of debt & still don’t know what they want to do.

    He has decided his path & now plans to go to college. It will be hard but he has the peace & satisfaction of not wasting time or money. He’s learned a lot with the jobs he’s had. He’s found an amazing wife & mother for his son who believes the same & has the same goals he has.

    So my advice is just get a job. Work it for awhile & if you hate it try another. Don’t stop learning…my son has taken classes, traveled & paid for training for his job, & constantly reads & takes online classes. Never stop learning whether you’re working toward a degree or not…..the degree doesn’t mean much if you aren’t happy & satisfied with where you are or where you’re headed.

  18. Melodie - November 13, 2017 6:51 pm

    Just, ‘BE.’ ♥

  19. Kathy Phillips - November 13, 2017 7:10 pm

    You’re awesome is what you are.

  20. Susan Hammett Poole - November 13, 2017 7:49 pm

    What Kathy Phillips said! Awesome is what you are in spades, Sean.♡

  21. Jack Quanstrum - November 13, 2017 8:17 pm

    Great Read!

  22. Alicia Ann Leonard - November 13, 2017 10:26 pm

    I had no idea what I wanted to be besides a writer and a female Indiana Jones, but I have held onto WHO I wanted to be when I was a little girl. I’m closing in on 50 and I am closer to that every day. You have to be brave to be yourself but your design is perfect, so being true to yourself might not win any fans but you sleep really good most nights. Great advice.

  23. Denise - November 14, 2017 12:55 am

    You ARE a good man and you make all of us want to be better, too? Thank you❤️

  24. sheron johnson - November 14, 2017 2:09 am

    I always want to write something wonderful to you to show my appreciation for what you’ve said, but I am struck dumb by your ability to leave nothing unsaid that needs to be said….so I can only say thank you…..plain and simple

  25. Janet Mary Lee - November 14, 2017 3:28 am

    Boy, did you nail it with this one! I just heard something saying the world needs more ponderers. It is a dying art. I fully agree. And love this post of yours! (again!)

  26. Denise Hammond - December 10, 2017 12:07 pm

    I had the same question ask to me from my daughter, I just told her to not do something for the money like her father and I did, pick something you love and as long as you live within your means, make it something you love and you will be happy all of your life. She picked Environmental. She is now a Park Ranger at a Beach in Florida doing what she loves and being outside and not at a desk. I cannot wait to see you in Palatka, FL January 12th, you will love my little hometown.

  27. Cindy - December 10, 2017 12:55 pm

    100% agree to your advice. This is what I tell my kids (who are 28 & 26) and any other person who’ll listen, Go Where the Road Takes You; you never know where you’ll end up! Thank you Sean for what you do! Reading your posts are now an official part of my morning, every morning I get up read my devotional for the day then I read whatever post of yours that comes up first. ❤️

  28. Kathy - December 10, 2017 2:30 pm

    I just turned 59! Every day I wonder what I’ll be when I grow up. In my mind I’m still 22.

  29. Diane Madison - December 10, 2017 4:16 pm

    Love your musings…you speak such truth so effectively! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas from the Northwest USA!

  30. Gus - December 11, 2017 4:27 am

    Amen Sean. At 57 I’ve been a lot. Engineer, teacher, musician, Waffle House manager, you name it. Been pretty good at it all. The last 20 years I’ve been a house painter. Driving to my job in my van each day I ask God to look after my family, friends & me. In Jesus name. I ask him to get folks to slow down, be kinder, etc. My job is simple but I’m happy & do good work. I open doors & give out lot’s of $5 bills. I thank God for making me the nice person I hope I am. Don’t know why so many folks complain so much. I have a house, a family, a dog & my van & tools. God meets my needs & I’m thankful for it. I open Facebook daily hoping to see your story. Thanks for the things you share.

    • MaryBurns - January 31, 2018 10:01 am

      Am happy to see that you said, “God meets my needs”, and not, “I meet my needs”. You give him all the glory.

  31. Martha - January 13, 2020 2:55 am

    Just be the best being you can be, cause in the end, your title means very little or nothing if you didn’t do it well or with grace & kindness.

  32. Steve Winfield (Gus) - January 13, 2020 8:58 am

    Thanks Mary. I am nothing without God & that I know for sure.


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