A few days ago I was touched to receive a direct message on Instagram by someone who came to watch ‘Thriller Live’ in Munich… Sorry to disappoint – it wasn’t a cheeky slide! Johanna simply complimented my performance, the show, and asked to meet over coffee… How could I resist such a sweet offer?
We decided to have a mid-morning catch up in a cosy cafe – ‘El Cotidiano’ in Gärtnerplatz. As soon as I caught her eye in the cafe window, she immediately radiated a smile and invited me in. My roomie from university was visiting from London, so she came along too and we all found a snug spot in the middle of the cafe. Almost instantly, the warming smells of home-made marmalade and coffee filled the space as the cafe buzzed with light conversations and easy morning vibes.
It was such a pleasure to connect with Johanna. After we finished in the cafe, we took a stroll toward the River Isar and talked about life, relationships, our career choices and dreams (for ourselves and for those we care for). From our conversations, what resonated most was the idea of how easy it can be to fall into the trap of choosing security and status, over dedicating time and energy into our passions and what makes us happy.
How does that saying go? If you don’t work to build your own dream, someone else will happily hire you to build theirs?
As we continued talking, I began to recall all the excuses that I had made whilst growing up to convince myself to not follow my dreams of being a performer. I felt like I owed it to my mama to graduate from university, to get a comfortable 9-5 job, to continue to fill up our living room walls with awards, certificates, and more graduation pictures. I felt like I needed to be the best friend, the best sister, the best daughter, the best carer, the best girlfriend, the best teacher, the best mentor… The best everything at all times; I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to do anything else. My excuses started something this:
When I start college, then I will have time to read more…
When I go to university, then I will begin to write creatively…
When I start my first job, then I will start saving…
When I get a promotion, then I will be so secure in my job that I will start singing again…
When I die, then I will start living?
I know that escalated quickly, but the expectations I placed on myself made it so easy to hide behind excuse after excuse. Over time, I became more and more exhausted. That’s when I realised that I was more than enough – right here, right now. That, realistically, nothing could stop me from dedicating moments of my day towards my passion. I could chose to say ‘yes’ to opportunities, instead of shying away from them because of a fear of failing.
Of course, I understand that I am in a privileged position; I can exercise the freedom of choice because of my education and the opportunities I have seized along the way. I am also blessed to be a part of a support system that choses to challenge and cheerlead through all of life’s seasons. What’s more is that I have an irrational sense of confidence and trust in a universe full of lessons and victories.
Since you’re reading this, I also trust that you too may be in a similar position, perhaps with different circumstances. What excuses may be holding you back from pursuing what makes you happy?
I am so grateful to be able to connect with people and to stir up conversations that help us to all grow and make a positive impact on others. For now, I’ll leave you with the Fisherman story.
What will you choose?
An investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal village. There a small boat with just one fisherman was docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The fisherman replied, “only a little while. The banker then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The banker then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The banker scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to bigger cities, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the banker replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the fisherman.
The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”