We all have reasons not to pursue an opportunity. We all have excuses for why we didn’t do something that we had the chance to do in the past. That’s all ok, but do yourself a favor and let all of that go!
I dwell a lot on missed opportunities to have done as much as some 16 year old who got accepted to Harvard at the age of 12 only to become a millionaire by sophomore year and now owns an island somewhere in the Caribbean. I mean come on… I look at those kids and I think to myself, “What did I do wrong to not be in their shoes now?” I think, “I’ve worked hard and I’m hustling. What else can I do?” I get lazy. I think, “There’s no way I can catch up to them…” But why bother with the self-doubt? If you’re over the age of 16 and still haven’t gotten into Harvard or started your own multi-million dollar business then just let go of the dream of doing it by 16. Make a new dream and accomplish all of it by the time you’re 25 or 30 or whatever!
The truth is, or at least for me, is that I missed my pre-16 opportunities. I was too busy doing things that made me happy in the moment and not grasping the opportunities that would make me happy for a lifetime. That’s not a bad thing though! We can’t all be absurdly successful 16 year olds because then an 8 year old would still make us hate ourselves and our accomplishments. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be absurdly successful. You can still do something amazing.
Stop turning down, or simply neglecting the existence of, opportunities to be amazing! I’m the type of person who likes opportunity to just show up in front of me…who doesn’t amirite? That way I can mobilize and act on it. But I’m realizing that less and less of those in-your-face opportunities are cropping up and instead, I have to try harder to find the right ones. But I think about that statement and realize that in reality, I’m literally surrounded by opportunities. The opportunity to help a friend with their startup, to work part time for a promising business idea, to volunteer my time in a space I know nothing about simply to learn, and so on. These opportunities are literally swimming around me, day in and day out, but I’m just sitting here, doing something else. The 16 year olds aren’t just sitting, they’re doing. They do because they can. They do because they see the future value of the struggle today.
So take a serious look around you and realize where opportunities are hiding in plain sight. Just because you’re busy, doesn’t give you an excuse not to pursue! If you don’t do it, then someone else will, and that someone else will be better off even if it was a waste of time. Realize that whatever you’re doing or think you’re busy with probably isn’t actually taking up enough time to justify not doing more. I have many opportunities to both consider and seek out on my own but I have to stop making up excuses and just do them. Not to be rich or famous but because I can and because I’ll be a better, smarter, more well-rounded person because of it.
I think I said opportunity like 69 times in this post but I’m serious. Just frickin do it and be awesome and make yourself damn proud of you!
Reflection #3, July 26, 2014
“If you had to feed your starving family and your only choice was to either kill an elephant for it’s tusks or die, what would you chose?”
This question, posed by one dialogue student to another after seeing tusks used as decoration in the Mysore Palace, is a trivial one in my opinion. Obviously, if your family is starving and you love them then you’ll do anything for them but on the other hand, how could you kill such a beautiful and majestic animal simply to sell off it’s tusks? It’s hard to say where your morals lie when it comes to questions like these, but that’s not what my reflection is on.
Just one short hour after I overheard that trivial question, our group happened upon a small patch of grass in the middle of a courtyard, that held within it, two defeated elephants and two seemingly exhausted camels who’s sole purpose seemed to be to entertain the passerby, for a price.
As I stood up on the ledge and looked on towards the camels, a man yelled “100 rupees for elephant ride!” I realized as I looked up that one elephant was parading six full grown people on it’s back to the middle of the patch of grass where a man took a photo of the unlikely bunch, but only after the elephant raised its front right leg in a painfully depressing pose.
The man next to me continued to yell the sale until Sagar requested that he stop as he noticed I was getting more upset with each pitch. As students from our group congregated around one elephant to take photos with the exploited animal, I watched as the other collected rupees from those same people who were just riding him and handed the money up from his trunk to the man on his back before placing his trunk on the paying customers head for a photo. I could feel my face getting hot. I looked on one last time at the camels kneeling on the ground and my heart seemed to break.
I walked away, past the students taking photos with the elephant and as they laughed at the tricks that it was trained to perform, the tears came. I’ve never been one to advocate for animal rights or preach about animal cruelty. I don’t agree with it all of course, I don’t want animals to be in pain but I do eat them on a daily basis. I’ve even ridden elephants and camels as a child at the zoo, but something about this sad little patch of drying grass where these animals were being seemingly exploited, made my chest heavy and cheeks warm with tears, my heart literally broke for them.
I can’t explain where it all came from, if it was due to the cold I’d been battling for the past few days, the lack of sleep, the cultural differences of this country or a combination of all those things, but I had to walk away and ignore the patch of grass at all costs to keep myself from breaking down even further.
India has been a new experience for me in so many ways but animals are kept and exploited this way in America too, so what was it about these that really hit me? I’m not sure, but I know that something about this experience has switched a gear in my mind and moved me in ways I didn’t know I was capable of.
It’s been almost a week here in Mumbai and we’ve had enough experiences to last some a lifetime. We’ve traveled around Mumbai to see temples, slums, markets, and museums that have had a profound impact on our perceptions and understandings of other cultures.
Seeing the Dharavi slums, the largest in India today, was much different than I had expected. It is, more or less, a recycling community for more than just themselves. Some may think you’ll only see filth and homeless but in reality, this is a thriving community filled with entrepreneurs and beautiful people making an honest living. Yes the ground was dirty, and yes there were smells that might make you cringe but the way space is used and work is done, it’s phenomenal that a self-managed city can function so well. They do what our machines do in America by hand and what we outsource to other countries to take care of for us. They work hard and stay happy even when the rains come down like waterfalls.
Oh the rains…
I’ve never seen rain like this! Coming down the way that makes you stay inside for the entire day in America, bundled up in sweats and a large cup of hot chocolate with only chick flicks to combat your boredom. But here, they embrace and they go on with it. As we drove through the city, we saw hoards of people, soaked to the bone, hanging out on the beach with their friends and family just taking it all in. They’ve been waiting for the rains all year and this year it came especially late so they’re rejoicing. It’s nothing like someone who enjoys rain…it’s like a love affair with the rains. It’s crazy to me that the rain they get over these few months is enough to hydrate the entire city for the remainder of the year…it’s mind blowing.
Everything here is mind blowing. It’s all different and I don’t have a chance to settle the images in my mind until I’m back in my hotel room with nothing to overload my senses besides the delicious room service. Here in the hotel I come to terms with the massive amounts of culture that I’m exposed to. Visiting the temples, seeing people pray for just 5 minutes every day and the street vendors peddling cheap crafts and the homeless children taught to pester any tourists in any way they can. It’s overwhelming to think about it all at once.
Out here, I have to take one experience at a time or I’ll drown in culture overload. It’s all so different than anything I’ve ever experienced but I’m adjusting and I’m seeing the difference that my own world travels have on this current experience. 1 week, 7 states, 24 students, and endless experiences.
p.s. I’ll be writing more often now that we’ve gone through the motions of the first week.
The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
In about 11 hours I’ll be boarding a plane that will take me and some 20 other students from our home here in Boston, MA to Frankfurt, Germany to the first city of many that we’ll be visiting over the next month and change…Mumbai, India.
In the words of friends and family, India is hot, beautiful, crowded, delicious, filthy, and a once in a lifetime experience. Whether I’d like to at this point or not, I’ll be there experiencing it all with an open mind for unfamiliar things.
India, from what little I truly know, reminds me of the word, bittersweet. For all the things that make me nervous about studying there, there’s an equal amount of things that I’m extremely excited for. This blog will be capturing them all as often as I can find wifi and the time to document them.
So, here goes nothing. I’m Nina and soon, I’ll be in India.