For the large majority of my life I was a very stereotypically responsible individual. I got straight As, I never challenged my parents, and I participated in all the extra curricular activities designed for some squeaky clean college applications. However, all the nuances and history behind how I got to be where I am today don’t matter. What matters is when I began to confront my fears of failure and surround myself with positive people. Some celebrities and motivational speakers will tell you it happens overnight or there was this “Ahha!” moment. I suppose for some it’s possible, but for me it was gradual.
No matter what I was doing, what city I was living in, or who my friends were, I was constantly thinking about traveling. The only concept I had of traveling was the backside of a travel blogger at pristine resorts, chilling poolside looking out at the beach. It’s not meant to be ironic, it just is. I didn’t yet know how crippling life can be when you accept what’s perpetuated on social media as reality. I kept trying to prepare myself and my bank account for that reality, but I got tired of waiting. I had been looking at trips to Japan through EF Collegebreak for months. Then a few days shy of my 23rd birthday I sat down with an IPA in one hand, my laptop in the other, and said to myself, “Treat yo’self girl!”
I had $200 to my name but the deposit cost $150, with impending biweekly payements for the next year and nine months. I was working two jobs for California minimum wage of $10/hr, which doesn’t get you far in Sonoma County, and no matter how I crunched the numbers I wasn’t going to make it happen forever. I felt sick to my stomach and terrified of failing but my heart felt so full of joy at the thought of walking the countryside of Japan. I filled out my payment information and clicked the ‘Submit Payment’ button. I cried for a minute, then spent the next week writhing in my head about what I was going to do.
Try. That’s what.
So I redid my resume and strictly applied for jobs I was underqualified for. I probably applied to over 50 jobs and only got an interview with 2. The odds were very against me but luck was on my side. I landed a probationary period as a receptionist for a dog boarding and training facility. They wanted someone maleable they could train specifically to their standards, so I was the perfect fit. For the next year I worked two jobs, one as a receptionist for $15/hr and the other as a sales associate for $11/hr, and only took one weekend off.
One year down with only nine to go, I repeated steps one and two. This time it was much easier. My dad recognized my improvements and offered me to work as his Administrative Assistant without sacrificing my new wage. I gladly accepted. My travel partner mentioned her company was hiring, so I submitted my resume the following week. A shaky interview, but I got the job. Now I was still working two jobs, but with much more flexibility and a living wage across the board.
All I did was try and I saw results.
I was working full time, college part time, and fully involved in speech and debate tournaments and events. This made a year and nine months go by before I knew it. September 6th came and I found myself sitting alone in the airport terminal set for Haneda, Japan. I was to be alone for ten more days before meeting with my tour group, and it was all up to me to get there. I was scared, excited, and completely unsure of myself. Feeling ‘alive’ is incredibly uncomfortable. In fact, most things in life are. But I did it, and what I found on the other end of my trip was a sureness in myself so strong no one could break me down.
It took irresponsible me, two IPAs deep just shy of my 23rd birthday, to get me out of my routine. But it was me who tried and me who succeeded through a dedication to see beyond my failures in order to fulfill my dreams.
I tried. I succeeded. And it feels…so…good! Whatever it takes, whatever your dreams, just try.