New things are hard. In fact, starting something you've never done before can be almost paralyzing. There is the obvious doubt of success and an inevitable insecurity about succeeding. But the scariness of beginnings goes a bit beyond that.
When I was in school, I was pretty successful. I learned things as they came along. I was diligent to reading the books, showing up for class, and turning things in on time. I had this external motivator that kept me going, perhaps the desire to make my parents proud, perhaps the fear of failing out of school and life by default. I had this structured discipline all around me (High school in particular is very structured). One class comes after the next, one due date after another. There were expectations upon me to complete things, to learn, to get good grades, to be one time, and ultimately to graduate. I did all of it.
Moving into the working world wasn't a terrible thing. In fact, a lot of those same expectations remained. Punctuality in arriving at work, the deadline of bills- all these things keep the average upstanding citizen going. There is, after all, nothing like the threat of an impending rent payment to motivate one to work well and to work hard.
I have dreams. Big ones. I have goals and aspirations that many would consider "nice" and others unrealistic. Sure, I can pay my bills and be upstanding citizen. For me that is marginally easy. But starting a business? marketing my art work? This is a new level of achievement. It is not enough to merely survive and meet expectations. This is new. This is pioneer work. Having a business degree does not guarantee success. After all, putting one's emotions out on display for all to see is difficult. What if others don't see the world the way I do? What if my efforts are shoddy and poorly executed. I don't want to peddle refrigerator drawings at Picasso prices only to discover it after 3 months of sitting alone in an abandoned gallery. What would rejection feel like? Do I want to try? This is something to think about.
I recently went to India. It was an amazing experience to say the least. I'm sure there could be and eventually will be blogs about that adventure, but today I want to mention one thing that India taught me. There is something not exactly carefree about travelling, but certainly daring. I spent 2 months in this country and I made it all the way without more than a handful of acquaintances. That's a little crazy, amirite? But oh so fun. I went to this crazy, bustling, busy place and I did stuff. I went places. I ate new things and enjoyed them. I tried my hand at speaking in a new language (and didn't do half bad). I got sick and I survived. I met new people and I survived. I kept up an amazingly busy schedule, and I survived. I hailed taxi cabs in foreign languages and sailed across cities on the wrong side of the road not knowing if I was headed to the right place... And I survived. It was all amazing FUN.
More than survival, I had tapped into a deeper part of me. This trip was far more than meeting expectations and doing things as I ought. I was able to explore and get outside of my inhibitions to see what I was actually capable of doing. I went to a gym and was weight trained by a former Mr. India Body builder. A travelling companion of mine sang karaoke in a shopping mall and ended up in 2 newspapers! I rafted in the Ganges, hiked the Himalayas, taught an art class in a talent school, watched a Bollywood movie being filmed, and met a famous singer in someone's house! It was this magical place where it just seemed like anything might happen. Who knew what I would do tomorrow, where I would go, what I would eat, or whom I would meet.
So I started to ask myself a few things. Why is it that when I come home to America I have such a different life? Why would the same girl who sang the US national anthem (badly) in a mall in Delhi be nervous to start a new vocation or to put herself wholly into a new venture?
This is the key, I think. When I was in India I had very few expectations. In fact, my largest expectation was that I would live bravely and try new things. And I did. When I was in school, my expectation was that I would work hard and succeed. And I did.
Aha! The key.
I have dreams. Big dreams. I believe that it is time to reach for them. It is time to grasp them. It is time to blow past those dreams and to formulate newer, bigger ones. I expect that it will be difficult. I expect that there will be a lot of time and dedication required. I expect that not everyone will believe in me and that many will not understand what drives me and my passions. There are some, I suppose, who will actively dislike the things that I create, love, and pour myself into. Nevertheless, I expect to make it through all of that. One thing I can say for sure is that there is little point in being afraid of trying. There is little point in merely living into the expectations of others. I will live my life, and by the grace of God, it will be very good.
Today I am starting something new.
Perhaps I will achieve my dreams. I surely intend to achieve them.