One step forward

I used to think that traveling only happens outwardly. You look up a place to visit, you buy the tickets, and you visit the place. And ta-da! It’s a new journey.

I’ve forgotten that sometimes, the journey can happen inside of you.

I just remembered yesterday that it’s not always about the outcome; the path towards your goal is also important. I was debating whether to blog about this journey here, or to create a new blog where I can write about this new travail of mine. But since this is also a journey, and since I haven’t ironed out the details of this new venture of mine, I decided to write about it here.

This ‘inwards’ journey has happened to me as I embarked on several new projects the past five months. Without going into specific details, I stumbled upon something that offered me the chance to dip my toes into the kind of career I’ve wanted my whole life. All I had to do was send my e-mail declaring my intent and availability.

I debated with myself for several minutes before I finally mustered up the courage to open up my email, type a suitable letter of intent, and sent it to the person in charge. All the while I was thinking that maybe I won’t get in. Maybe I’m too green for this. Maybe I don’t know enough. What if I ruin the other person’s project because I don’t really know what I’m doing? And so on. I battled with myself, pulling myself down before I even knew what the reply could be. Before I even knew if I really could do it, or not.

And then came the response: it was a yes. Oh my god, you don’t know how I jumped for joy at that. I couldn’t believe it! And afterwards, I received two emails of inquiry, asking if I would like to join them in their project. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here was my chance.

What if I chickened out? What if I let myself pull myself down before I even tried it? Then I wouldn’t have known if I truly had it in me to achieve my dream career. I’m not saying I did it perfectly. I made several mistakes. We had to go back and forth. But in the end, they appreciated my inputs and I received glowing feedback. And I must have done something right because they asked to work with me again.

As part of our working together, we both asked each other if we could meet up, even just once. All our interactions before then have all been online. And when I met up with both of them, I walked away feeling so inspired. So excited that I’m doing it. I’m living my dream. How many of us don’t do our dreams because we are so afraid to fail, that we end up truly never fulfilling our dreams? We don’t believe in ourselves, so we stop ourselves from even taking the first step.

And I thought that was that. That my whole takeaway from the experience is that I am doing my dream job. It’s not even a job (because I did the first two for free).

But after several encouraging words from them, I finally sat down and tried my hand at what they do. Honestly, it has been my long-time dream. But I didn’t know what to say. I only got up to a few pages, before I walked away, convinced I didn’t really have anything to say. So after several years of trying to finish project upon project, I finally gave up, convinced it wasn’t for me.

Until one night, my sister and I were joking around, bouncing off ideas randomly, when I finally got it. I finally knew what I wanted to say.

So that night, I sat down. And in five days, I was done.

The only thing left to do was to find someone to go over my work and help me improve it. And that’s just the first step. And it was going to cost me. I vacillated between finding someone or trying my best to be critical of my own work, but in the end, I finally admitted to myself that I need help. That I don’t know what I’m doing, and if I’m going to send my work out there, I need someone’s expertise.

So yesterday, after much debating than I could possibly admit, I finally sent another letter asking for help. And she agreed to help me. It’s going to cost me a lot of money without any promise of getting that money back. But I’d rather have tried than never to have tried at all.

But before I sent that second email, I wondered: should I do it? What if no one wants it? What if she doesn’t want it? What if I’m not good enough for this? What if I don’t really have what it takes?

I had a lot of what ifs, most of them pertaining to failure, in the middle of the project. Until from the far reaches of my mind, one question pushed its way to the forefront and asked: Ah. But what if I succeed?

That was when I realized I truly am my own worst enemy. I’m my biggest critic. I’m the one who looks at myself in the mirror and tells me I can’t do it. To don’t even try because I might fail. Might.

But I took a chance. Two chances, if you count the first one I took five months ago. They haven’t paid off for me monetarily, but they have paid a lot for me, deep inside.

Lao Tzu said one of my favorite quotes: The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

This wasn’t a journey that took me to somewhere far away, racking up Mabuhay Miles points. This was a journey that took place in my little corner at home, where all I truly had was a computer and my fluctuating self-confidence and determination to see this thru. Everything happened internally, true.

But I already feel like I’ve been somewhere so far away just by taking one little step forward towards my dreams. I feel like I’ve come a long way simply by braving my own personal demons and taking a chance.

Maybe this won’t work out. Maybe I won’t reach my goal. Maybe I’ll have spent P8,000 to 12,000 for nothing at all.

Ah. But what if I succeed?

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