As you know, I recently took a big risk. I resigned from my stable job as an art reporter in a newspaper so that I can become a freelance art reporter. Prior to resigning though, I experienced something I’ve never felt before. I knew what I wanted to do, but I was afraid to take the risk. This was alarming as I’ve always defined myself as a risk taker. During that time though, a palpable fear swept over me. Maybe I couldn’t take risks anymore, maybe I had finally grown old and settled in my ways, and maybe my days of bravery were just simply over.
I am thankful that all I had to do was wait and that day came, that day when my decision finally solidified. Looking back, I have some theories as to why I was able to break out from my rut, and I realized it while I was reading Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. I also made a pact with myself. The next time I experience this prison of inhibiting fear, I will bungee jump. So how does this all connect and how did I get to that bungee jumping conclusion? Stay with me.
So what you have to understand about me is that I am brave. That’s the only thing I’m sure about myself. Despite the presence of insecurities, in the face of a lack of ability, with no knowledge if I am capable of overcoming a certain challenge, I still manage to make myself go “Screw it, let’s do it” (a favorite phrase by Richard Branson).
I think I’ve built this stamina for risks because I have had a history of making choices that went against the grain. When I was in college, I shifted courses several times until I settled on the most impractical course ever–Creative Writing (To Shift or Not to Shift). Walang pera diya, Jasmine Cruz! Anong balak mo sa buhay? No matter, I finally found what I truly loved–writing. Years later, it turned out that I could make a living out of writing. My salary in the newspaper was small, but I wasn’t starving.
After college, my first job was an editorial assistant for a website. I was finally going to write, but I was miserable because I didn’t like what I was writing (bimbo lifestyle topics) and most of the time I wasn’t writing but editing the articles of the website’s contributors and looking for photos. So after just five months, I resigned. What? Five months? Yep. Weren’t you afraid that companies won’t hire you because you left so quickly? Nope. Turns out, I could easily explain my quick exit to future employers and none of them really gave me a hard time about it.
When I got my second job and became an art reporter, I was able to narrow down my “what I truly loved”, which went from writing in general to writing about Philippine art. So I am grateful for the three years that I spent there at the newspaper, but at a certain point, I wasn’t growing anymore, and I needed a bigger challenge.
The worst thing about realizing that is experiencing a simultaneous paralysis. I was afraid of the money. Can I really sustain myself as a freelance writer? Will I make it in that world? But you need to get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out! Get the fuck out! Please!
I…I…can’t. Why? I can’t. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t.
I was there in that headspace for a long time and that internal conflict gnawed through my spirit, but after some time, I was able to finally break free. Now I’m wondering, how did I do it? Where did I draw the strength? Most importantly, how can I make that experience replicable? How do I ensure that the next time I feel trapped, I have a secret tool that can drill me out of jail?
While reading Richard Branson’s book, I came up with a theory: taking risks has a domino effect. If you take risks in one area of your life, you’ll find the strength to do it for another context. I came up with this while reading Richard’s story of how he and his friends audaciously tried to ride a hot air balloon across the world. During their flight, the balloon started losing height, so they had to dump stuff out of the balloon, but that didn’t work. They parachuted down and landed in the middle of the Sahara desert. Things turned out fine, but damn, what an adventure!
After reading that story, I thought, wow even his hobby is risky. Maybe that’s why he can take risks in his businesses. So this got me thinking, maybe I should bungee jump or do some extreme sports. Maybe if I do those things on a regular basis then taking risks would be second nature for me. I’ll never have to worry about growing too old to risk again.
Also, when I looked back at my recent risky venture, I realized that a few months before I resigned, I was beginning to organize an art exhibit with my friends. It was my first ever art exhibit, and that was my way of taking a risk. It made me feel accomplished. Maybe I also drew strength from that achievement, and maybe it gave me the power to do what needed to be done. That was my bungee jump, and I would love to exhibit again, but of course it won’t feel as risky as the first.
So I’m back to thinking about the bungee jump, but then I’m like, I don’t want to bungee jump. Instead, I decided to make a pact with myself. If someday, I experience that paralysis again, then I am required to bungee jump, and maybe that jump will save me, maybe that plunge will help me let go and begin again.
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Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.
All the opinions expressed in this page and in this blog are my own and do not represent the official stances of the companies, institutions, and organizations that I am affiliated with. I am a person. I’m not just a manifestation of corporate interests. I have an identity that is separate from my company because even if human beings are paid for a service by corporations, human beings are not owned by corporations.