In one of my old sketchbook-diaries, I once doodled a ghost against a storm of black scribbles. I named it “past,” and right beside it are the words “Sometimes it haunts me in my sleep.” One tossed grad cap and several steps into the proverbial Real World later, a new kind of ghost started to haunt every nook of my head. It was scarier, bigger. It named itself “the future.”
In so many ways, I’ve always been a coward. It ironically took me a certain amount of courage to admit that, but yes, I’m a coward. The worst part is that I’m responsible for cooking up most of the things I’ve become afraid of. Thoughts of the past, thoughts of the future, uncertainties of the present. I’m afraid of making the wrong decisions. I’m afraid that things, instead of falling into place, would fall down domino-like into a big mess that would never be the same again even if I try to rebuild them.
I try something new every once in a while; I break out of the comfort zone to learn more. But I eventually realized that the steps I was taking were too small to make a difference, that when I put my foot out, I still have the other one planted on a supposedly “safe” place. I’m afraid to take a big leap.
I’m afraid to fail.
And that, perhaps, was the biggest block on the road to my goals. It’s said that if you want to succeed faster, the only thing you have to do is to fail and make mistakes faster. There are no real shortcuts here. You have to go down if you want to go up. Plunging headfirst into the future is scary, but life only goes forward if you go forward. Simple as that.
So gradually, I stopped to clobber myself with my own fears. It’s time to explore more of the world, try something new—the kind of new that would actually leave a mark in my heart and at the same time make a difference to the people I love. The universe doesn’t revolve around me or my dreams alone. When I graduated, I built tall fences around my goal and swore I would target only that. But I couldn’t see the horizons because of the fences’ enormity. I decided that if I want to move forward, I have to tear them down.
Now, I acknowledge the open doors I’ve blocked in my periphery in the past. Now, I acknowledge that my true happiness doesn’t just lie in the fulfillment of my dreams, but also in the happiness of the people around me. Now, I acknowledge that even if risks are such scary things to take, you can never really grow up without them. Now, I am ready.
Wherever I’m going, I believe it’s somewhere beautiful. Different perhaps, but beautiful all the same. It's somewhere I can grow more. I will go forward without forgetting the past—hopefully not a ghost this time, but a mosaic of memories that I can use as a fuel when I find myself low on inspiration.
Nothing spells confusion like wallowing in a quarter-life crisis, but I'm ready to take on the new challenges.
Bring it on.