The Time for No Fear

December 23, 2013

With the tingling that precedes the birth of ideas, a tingling that makes you want to do more than you had ever thought before, also comes the paralyzing fear of failure, of never quite shaping your reality to the perfect model of a life you have dreamt about.

That fear, has been with me for far too long.

Before typing the first sentence, I have already thought of how people won’t like it, how I will be laughed at or worst, ignored. I cringe at the thought that the words, that sound so potent and loud in my head, won’t be any louder than the squeak of a door. But most of all, I fear that the writer I dream of being will never be more than a nostalgia I cling to when I am grey and old.

It is this collection of fears that stop me from writing full paragraphs that have been floating in my mind for years. Stories have been lost forever because of this fear. The flawless construction of descriptions has crumbled into pieces I can’t put back together, all because I didn’t have the guts to put it out there for the world to see.

But this is not the post where I’ll let fear have its moment in the spotlight, but the post where I finally face it and hold my ground when I tell it it’s got no business being here anymore. For too long it has lingered and bothered. Too long it has served no purpose. 

This is the moment I say to myself, and anyone who reads, that it is worth it. It’s worth it to click ‘Post’ while you tell that little voice in your head (the one that says “this is the stupidest thing you’ve ever written”) to go to hell. It’s worth it to feel silly, to feel unsettled and exposed because it means you are trying, you took the step forward instead of staying frozen. The embarrassment, the extra cups of coffee to jolt the enthusiasm, rewriting a sentence fifty times until it has melody… it’s all worth it.

I find myself constantly preparing for perfection. All the stars must be aligned in order to take action. And when they are not, I postpone. I need to have the perfect structure of the story in my head before my fingertips touch the keyboard, the right pictures, the absolute best looking website before I say “Now I can do it.” But now I know perfectionism is not my friend but a constant excuse maker for me to use when I’m too scared. When I’d say that I needed to write down all my ideas first, come up with a schedule, it would really translate “I am terrified of not being good enough and I will never become who I want to be.”

I vow to stop this search for perfectionism and begin a hungry quest for what is true. I promise to rip out of my vocabulary the sentence “I’ll do it later” or “This can wait”. I promise to stop thinking about those few times someone made me feel like I didn’t have it in me and recall every day the countless times I impressed someone or made them feel something with my words and I’ll use those moments like prayers from a rosary that will keep my spirits high when writing days don’t have better results than staring at a blank page. I promise to risk what I am for the possibility of becoming all that I ever wanted to be.

There is no more preparing to be done. No more excuses can be said, even if they are amusingly creative. It’s time to shoot and aim later, to fill pages and not edit as I go.

It’s time to write.


A -somewhat nostalgic- Girl in Miami

February 25, 2013

Once upon a time, there was a decision that needed to be made. Do I stay or do I go?

It was by the end of summer last year. I had just arrived from the best experience of my life, a month long trip to Europe, to find a letter of acceptance from the university I had applied to. 

You’d think that piece of news would be the perfect ending to such a memorable summer. But it wasn’t. First, I only had two-weeks-notice to uproot my entire life- I needed to find a place to live, a car and money in a matter of days. Second, I wasn’t as certain about the decision as I had hoped to be.

I should have focused on all the amazing opportunities I was gaining- a Master’s in what I had always wanted to study, a new city to explore, new friends. But instead, I focused on everything I was leaving behind- family, my childhood friendships, the island that had given birth to me and I had loved my whole life. I wasn’t ready to let go. 

I had a choice to make. Did I stay in the familiar surroundings, where I felt safe and everything was predictable to a certain point; or did I pack the essentials and take the biggest leap of faith ever?
I leapt. 

It’s been seven months since then. Every now and then, I cry in public –yes, in public- when suddenly I remember my mom’s cooking or what it felt like to spend all day lying on the beach. But overall, I am glad I pushed myself to do it. If I had stayed, even though I would have been comfortable, I would have always wondered what life in Miami would have been like.
Now I don’t wonder. I’m living it.

Bikini Bottom Fail

February 24, 2013

There is something about taking a tropical vacation that just oozes relaxation. The sounds of waves gently crashing against the shore, white sand, fruity drinks are just a few of the staples that make a Caribbean getaway the time to let loose and have fun.

And the best thing? You only need a few things for a beach holiday: Sunblock, shorts and most important, at least for us women, a bathing suit.

It’s not about any off the rack bathing suit. It takes patience, determination and a lot of self-love to find the perfect bathing suit for the season. It’s an art form, this quest, a commitment with a stretchy piece of fabric, trusting it will hide the flabby bits that should never be seen and lifting up anything that needs…. support.  It could take days, possibly weeks to find the right bathing suit. Any woman knows this. Well, any woman that isn’t a size zero.

I on the other hand, did the complete opposite, waiting two hours before catching my boat to shop for my bikini. Maybe subconsciously I was dreading the terrifying dressing room with the unflattering  fluorescent light or maybe the challenge of searching and purchasing in less than thirty minutes was too tempting to pass up. But for one short minute before entering the store I was sure I was going to find the perfect bikini for my weekend in the British Virgin Islands and get to the marina on time.

How hard could it be? I thought to myself, ignoring all the traumatic experience I’ve had in the past in these same circumstances. I just needed to know what styles flattered my figure and search accordingly. No thin straps, nothing without underwire, no small triangle shaped tops, only bottoms with soft elastic or adjustable ties on the sides. 

After a fast raid I found one that seemed to meet all my requirements- a black top with thick straps and a lovely turquoise bottom with ties on the side. Perfect! In my hurry, I only tried the top part on since it’s the one that will determine if I’ll look like a hot tamale or an old lady. Everything seemed to fit fine so in exactly 25 minutes, I had everything I needed and was ready to start my weekend of sun and piƱa coladas.

Disaster struck the next day in the afternoon after making safely to Tortola, the biggest and main island of the BVIs. Two minutes before everybody decided to head for the beach, I went into my room to change. Sunblock. Check. Hat. Check. Top of the bathing suit. Check. Bottom. No. No check.

 As I began putting it on, I felt a great resistance from the fabric, like it might be a size too small. No problem I thought. I’ll just tie it a little loser. But the ties I was counting on were sewed on as  decoration. There was no way to adjust it and the result was love handles. As I looked at myself in the mirror, hoping it didn’t look as tight as it felt, I saw a very unflattering, less than desirable reflection. The hot tamale I was hoping to be was more like an overstuffed sausage in its casing. Needless to say, my self-esteem plummeted. 

            The rest of the day was spent with moments of mini panic attacks, mood swings and completely dry on the deck of the boat. 

            But I wasn’t going to let an impulse purchase ruin my weekend. The next day, I went straight to the overpriced surf shop at the marina in search of a bottom that wasn’t tighter on me than my own skin. 

            The options were few since most of the bathing suits weren’t any bigger than a handkerchief. But now I needed to face the dreadful dressing room with the few choices I had and pray to God at least one of them would fit. The problem is nothing looks right with an already bruised ego and fluorescent lights that might as well be a magnifying glass on all of your flaws and bumps. Instead of finding something, you end up staring in the mirror thinking “Is that what I really look like? I was so delusional!”

            Three tries. No purchase. I was about to walk out the store, my shoulders dropped, thinking I really had messed up my vacation. If only I had planned better, taken an extra bathing suit as a plan B, then I wouldn’t have to be dealing with image issues or contemplating swimming in my underwear.

            And then, I remembered how I had worked out, starved and looked forward to sunbathing and swimming in the ocean. I had thought about it for weeks. It had kept me going through work and diet and I wasn’t about to minimize my fun because of a judgemental dressing room.

            I went back to the rack of bathing suits, going through each one carefully and thoughtfully. I wasn’t going to dismiss anything just on how it looked on a hanger. Halfway through, I saw an itsy bitsy teeny weeny pink polka dot bikini and a little voice in my head said “That’s the one!” Earlier, I had just brushed by it. It was pink –not my favourite color- and it was more like a hipster shape than an actual bikini. 

            Try it on, the little voice said. What do you have to lose?

            My dignity?

            You’re way pass that, it said. Try it on!

            I went back to that hateful dressing room (which by the way, had a four by four wooden door; everybody could see my legs and whatever I took off) and with closed eyes and berated breath, I put the bottom on. And to my delight, it wasn’t too tight at all. In fact, it was quite slimming! 

            Suddenly I felt my confidence building up as I twirled around to inspect every angle. This was it! I was so relieved to have found it, I did a little victory dance in the privacy of my dressing room. I’m sure everyone saw my feet doing little hops and circles but I didn’t care.

            It cost me forty five dollars to restore my self-esteem and salvage the weekend. But it was completely worth it. Think of it was holiday insurance. Even though I learned my lesson of preparing beforehand and having a plan B, I found out what you really need to enjoy whatever vacation you’re about to go on is a positive attitude. Don’t let any bump on the road ruin the rest. After all, it’s the mistakes we make that tell the greatest stories.