“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist“
2011 is what I have dubbed as “The Year of Action.” It’s become common to hear people talk about their long-term goals, their dreams, what they ultimately aspire to do or be as though it is some unattainable, unrealistic, out-of-reach end state. I’ve grown tired of forming conditional statements: “IF I do this…” There is no “if.” I WILL do this.
Almost time to surrender the passport…
What am I doing exactly? I am going to live in Spain this summer, where I will be enrolled in various business and legal Spanish courses. I also plan to network and make contacts while I am there. There will be plenty of opportunities for fun because I am only kilometers from the Rias Baixas wine region and the beach. Seems easy enough – all I do is fill out a few forms online and I’m living the good life in Pontevedra, right?
I wish! The planning process itself has taken a few months – securing a host family and obtaining an acceptance letter from the university. From there, I have been taking the necessary steps to apply for a visa. The first step was having an FBI background check performed and getting fingerprinted. (You can read my Yelp review if you need a little comedic relief.) Next steps will include scheduling an appointment at the Spanish Consulate, getting interviewed, and paying for all of these courses (ouch).
Inevitably, there are moments when excuses and doubt surface, both internally and from others discouraging me.
“Dana, you’ve been so busy with work, do you really have time to do this?”
“Dana, this is really expensive. Are you sure this is how you want to spend your savings? Do you really think you’ll be fluent when you come back to the States?”
That’s all in my head, but when others say, “Dana, you’re committing career suicide. Why would you leave your current situation for something where the magnitude of the benefits is unknown?” I feel as though I am making the wrong decision.
Whenever these thoughts arise, I have to ignore them and even prove them wrong. Okay, I’ll stay up an hour later each evening if it means I need to devote more time to confirming logistics for my trip. I won’t go out as much on the weekends or make any more Louboutin acquisitions in order to save money. And because fluency is one of my top-priority goals, I am determined and will do everything in my power to practice once I’m back in the States.
When I first started the “living abroad” process, it was extremely daunting and borderline intimidating. It’s a lot to risk. But then I thought ahead to 30 years from now. Inevitably, I would feel regret and be unable to live with myself for not living life to the fullest, allowing fear to paralyze me, or disregarding my dreams.
As Coelho also said, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” I am looking forward to my time in Pontevedra and am sure if nothing else, it will make for a good story or two.
What are you doing to pursue your dreams? What will you be up to in 2011? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.