About two or three weeks ago, I was in Spain. I took what I called a ‘Me time’ break, which meant I didn’t go with my husband or my kids. I also call it mummy timeout – a time for me to relax and focus only on myself for that period. (Of course I checked in on my family several times in the day, I mean you wouldn’t?)
While in Barcelona, though a short stay, I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved that I heard Spanish in every corner. I went on the Flamenco night to watch the show. I went sightseeing; saw a few of Gaudi’s famous buildings like La Sagrada Familia – a large unfinished Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona. I took a trip to the Picasso Museum and checked out some of his collections. I love the Arts – it’s just one those things about me. And I also love languages – if I could speak all the language in the world, including sign language, believe me, I will enrol to that school willing to teach me all as a single syllabus.
During the Flamenco show, as I fell in love with the music, singing, the dancing native to the country, with a warm smile on my face, I also felt a heaviness in my heart, with a few tears welling up in my eyes.
My heart cried because I thought to myself ‘I wish I had done this earlier. A few years ago. Years ago when this was my plan. After my English degree, of which I also took Spanish, German and French as elective modules, I would go to Spain for six months, teach English there as a second language and improve my Spanish – surely by the end of six months I would be quite fluent. Then after that, I was going to head to Paris, do the same thing, teach English as a second language, learn and become fluent in French. I would do the same for German if I wanted, then I would go to China. Wow, learn Mandarin.’ Those were the dreams.
However, those dreams were not actualised. It wasn’t realised because, at the time where conceived those dreams, with that passion in me, I allowed myself to be discouraged by a well-meaning mentor. In her opinion, I didn’t have what it took to venture abroad alone, and somehow I believed it.
I believed, and I accepted her words because I handed the power to her, to dictate what I should or should not do with my life, to determine what my passion should or should not be, to ignore what I feel inside for myself and take whatever she sees and envisions for me.
Clearly, at this period in my life, I did not live for me. I lived for what other’s opinions and expectations of me were, and I can categorically say now, it denied me the freedom of self-expression. The freedom to be me and express all that I am, all my potential to the fullest. I allowed a well-meaning mentor’s limiting belief about me to hinder from pursuing my passion.
If I wasn’t passionate about it, I do not think ten years later, sitting in the theatre somewhere in Barcelona, watching a show I enjoyed and want to cry all at the same time, because my heart was breaking. I felt I had made the wrong decision at the time. I should not have listened to her, though she may have meant well. But I shouldn’t have.
My question to you is, who are you living for? What are you wild about, that you are afraid to reach out and get, just because you are fearful of what some people might think? Or you allow yourself to believe you are not qualified enough to accomplish an aim just because some people opinion of you is little and you choose to see yourself through their eyes?
There comes a time in everyone’s life where they have to decide who they are going to live for? Are you going to live for you? Or the expectations and limitations of society? Society sometimes is our parents, our siblings, our well-meaning mentors, even our partners, the religious leaders, and even the state at large.
I have learnt a few lessons from this experience:
1. Trust your own instinct. Believe in your passion. Trust that little tug within you, telling you which direction to take next. With all honesty, you do not need anyone’s approval to launch out and aim to accomplish your dreams. You do not need their permission, and you do not have to their support because you can move. Launch out, and in due time they will reach out to you.
2. Whatever you want to do, just do it. Stop seeking a second opinion, followed by a third opinion and a fourth, to the point that you do not take action at all. Even if you are not sure how it would work out, it is better you at least try, and it fails, that for you not to try and to wonder a few weeks later, months or years later that perhaps you should have attempted it. You will never know until you try to get on with it.
3. Whatever it is that makes your heart sings, go with it. What you are truly passionate about will not die overnight. Even if you push it aside for a while, so long it is within you, that which you want to do or are meant to do, it will resurface. You will always get a witness. Passion doesn’t die, though we can repress it or ignore it. So if you know that you know this is what you are passionate about, it makes your heart glad, you are excited at the thought of it, what are you waiting? Go out and get it.
4. It doesn’t matter where you are at. How many years you think you have wasted, you can still start or pick from where you are right now. So though I may not be able to travel around the world six months at a time because of my family commitment, I have decided to revisit my languages and relearn. And even if it’s just short breaks I can do to these countries as often as I can, so be it. I would chase my passion now — no more excuse. No self-pity. No feeling of regret will stop me; in fact, it fuels me to action, because I will not feel like this again. Get up. Go. It doesn’t matter how old you are now. Take the step to doing that which makes you happy and let the past be in the past.
Thank you for listening. I would love to hear back from you, you leave me a comment or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, take it easy.