I've lost count of the many times I've underestimated myself. Sometimes it feels like there isn't any day at all that I don't believe in my capabilities. You see, when I was younger, someone told me that I won't be able to make any of my dreams come true. I'm not entirely sure if it was meant as a bad joke or as a harsh insult. It still rings in my head that there are moments when it deafens me. But in the last seven years, I've found the courage to quiet it down and listen to the voice that truly matters: my own.
The trip that I recently came back from is one of the many proofs I'll probably show myself, again and again, to reassure that I can turn whatever dream I have into reality. Last year, the 12-day trip across three South East Asian countries was nothing more than a topic I so often open up to my friends. I definitely wanted to cross it off my list one day but I didn't expect that time to come so soon.
"When it rains, it pours," they said. Well, it was a freakin' storm for me. It all started when I stumbled upon a job late last year. I was able to save enough to go on trips around my country and realized that I can do the same for a bigger trip. Since then, I've hustled non-stop and earned two promotions before my first work anniversary.
Although there were times when I felt beaten up and burned out, it still didn't make me hate the work. I began to love Mondays because it meant I get to work and learn new things at the same time. My boss and I keep a sisterly bond instead of an employee-employer relationship. I guess this is one of the tell-tale signs that I've found a job I'm passionate about. And I still shake my head, wondering what the hell I did to deserve this blessing.
Fast forward to June this year, my friend and I bought our tickets to Singapore — the first country we wanted to visit. The printed itinerary that I clipped beside my work table kept reminding me to double my effort. And so I did. I resisted feeling sad whenever other people were enjoying their time-offs or their holidays. "Wala ko'y panahon para ana. Kailangan magtrabaho, self!" (I don't have time for that. You need to work, self) I remember thinking that over and over again.
When we started booking other flights and our AirBNBs, it was starting to get very real. My friend had to fly two days ahead of me so I had to face all the pressure and anxiety of crossing an international border for the very first time, on my own.
Before I boarded my flight to Singapore, I heard the familiar voice again. It was loud and very convincing this time. But instead of feeling discouraged, I felt at ease. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be; like the universe has paved the way for me. Paulo Coelho level of cheesy, yes, but nevertheless true.
I got through immigration and arrived in a foreign country for the very first time without any problem. I swear I'll never forget the cleaning lady at the airport who handed me a tissue because I had to burst into tears inside their oh-so-posh comfort room.
So here's the thing: there will always be people who will discourage you. Their voices linger no matter how hard you try to forget it. But I've learned that the words and the way they said it can only affect you if you allow it to.
Sometimes there are no "other people" at all. Sometimes it's just you. I don't have any advice and I don't want to pretend that I'm an expert. But let me just say that it doesn't hurt to try to rise above the opinions you or anyone else have of yourself.
Dream and hustle your ass off to make it happen. You can do it.
*film photo taken with a Fujica Auto-7 and a fresh roll of Kodak Gold 200 in Siem Reap.