This past Thursday marked my last shift at The Juice Truck as a full time employee. A lot of people have naturally been asking me what’s next and it’s with a mixture of excitement and straight up terror that I admit that I’m not sure. For the very first time in my life, I don’t know what’s next and haven’t lined something up. For context, I applied (and as accepted) early decision to college which meant I knew where I was headed after high school graduation a mere three months into my senior year. When getting ready to graduate from college, I’d already lined up my job at lululemon and subsequently started working three days after graduating and moving back to California. Even when I took my riskiest leap yet and moved to Vancouver, I had a job lined up and waiting for me. I moved straight from working at lululemon into juggling two jobs at Juice Truck and BAM Communications, including a (rather hellish) month juggling all three as I transitioned out of lululemon. Here I am a year later realizing that this is actually the first time in my life when I haven’t had my next step lined up and planned out before saying goodbye to the security of full-time employment.
It makes total sense, as I’ve always been a very cautious person. My mother tells me that as a baby learning to crawl she never had to worry about me because while I was inquisitive, I took my time; I analyzed my surroundings before making decisions. When learning to climb the stairs, I spent a lot of time hovering at the bottom step looking at them, planning my route. I’d gingerly test it out, never pushing out of my comfort zone. When I turned learning to drive at the age of 15, I had a natural edge on my more impulsive peers in that I would constantly assess my surroundings and try and guess what the worst case scenario was at any given moment. It was an exhausting habit to develop, but has helped me anticipate potential accidents and react appropriately on many occasions.
In fact, there are many areas of my life for which I am grateful for my cautious, analyzing tendencies. It wasn’t something I consciously pushed back against until I found myself preparing to move to a foreign country, to a city which I had never even visited. Moving to Vancouver two and a half years ago was a real wake up call, a chance for me to face my fears of the unknown head on and take a leap of faith. It brought out a very nasty side of me and in a lot of ways was a real low point in my self-esteem. I found myself incredibly sad and wouldn’t take personal responsibility for my feelings, externalizing my blame onto the people in my life which then made it very hard to make friends. In a lot of ways, it was hard. It was negative. It was emotional. It was a long journey but ultimately has taught me so much about myself and made me realize how much I’d been living within my comfort zone, so afraid of failure that I never took risks. It also in a lot of ways broke the ice, for I had finally forgone my cautious ways for impulse and subsequently failed…but I had also gotten back up again, dusted myself off and learned something valuable.
Taking a leap of faith is something which doesn’t come naturally to me; however, I’m working to break out of this routine as I feel that calculated risks are what ultimately lead to real epiphanies. Leaps of faith provide the chance to learn something about yourself that you never would have had the chance to discover by getting uncomfortable and leaning into the unknown. Failure is only discouraging if that’s the story that you tell yourself; focus instead on the opportunities for learning and you’ll start to see the silver lining in what can be a shameful and frustrating experience. So basically I don’t know what’s next. I have many ideas and dreams. I’ve written my vision and am ready to put myself out there. What I do know is that regardless of the outcome, I’ll learn something valuable about myself in the process and ultimately that’s what matters most.