May I first share that even after so many years of working in theatre, I actually have stage fright? Well, I have no problem performing in front of an audience as a character from a play. But when it comes to speaking in front of a group people as myself, that's what scares me. That's why it seems so ironic that I had been asked to speak at an event about interacting with people.
Then I got this Bible verse from my phone's daily devotional app.
Exodus 4:1 says, "But Moses protested again, "What if they won't believe me or listen to me? What if they say, 'The Lord never appeared to you'?"
Moses was stressed about speaking about God to the Israelites. And hey, a little trivia about Moses was that he had a stutter, which could be another reason to doubt himself. But he had faith.
And with that same faith, I realized that God does not ask us to do things we cannot handle. He will go before us and make way for courage, confidence, and peace if we trust Him. So I brought all that with me as I spoke in front of the number of attendees.
One more irony about my talk that day, given the topic of my experiences in pushing my dreams, is that sometimes, or even most of the time, I feel as if I haven't accomplished much in my life.
I turned 35 in December of 2016.
Half the women my age are ideally married with children, and possibly have their dream jobs as well. I, on the other hand, am still single and living with my parents.
And still finding that one big thing that I can say I am proud to have done.
Maybe because I keep changing my path. Still finding that core gift, and that one big major dream.
But upon certain realizations that this past year and a half had showed me, I noticed that I don't really mind that it's still taking me this long.
"It's not the destination that's important. It's the journey that matters."
Cliche, but true.
While still looking for that one big thing, I noticed that I've been enjoying the journey much more because I keep growing. The learning never stops.
Growing up, I was a very shy kid. I was afraid to talk to people. But because of that, I tend to get pushed around. No one knew what I had to say. So I had to learn to speak up. And I'm so glad I did.
I'm what some people call a "jack of all trades, master of none." I realized that I've done so many things since college, and it has been quite the adventure.
I've been a blogger since 2001.
I was a technical theater major in college, and I've become a stage manager, production assistant, usher, and front-of-house head in different theater companies.
Okay, I also did a bit of acting every once in a while. But mostly just in thesis productions and workshop recitals.
I then needed a consistent source of income, so I became a call center agent. (I still work as one part-time.)
After years of fascination and one summer class, I took a leap of faith, resigned from 2 theater projects, and decided to become a ballroom dancer.
Upon becoming a dance scholar, I then trained to become a dance fitness teacher.
When my mentor noticed I had good command of the English language, she made me our dance fitness company's corporate communications specialist.
When I stopped dancing, a friend encouraged me to join her company's roster of talents, and so I learned how to be a children's storyteller and party host.
Looking at all these things that I had become, I noticed that all of these had something in common. As it turned out, one of my core gifts was somewhere along the lines of communication. It never occurred to me that interacting with people would be something I'd be actually be good at.
With all those experiences, I'd like to share with you 5 things I've learned on interacting that helped me pursue whatever dreams I had, or will still have.
1. STEP OUT
Step out of your comfort zone. Try a little, or a lot. It's up to you. What matters is that you have to try.
I mentioned that I was a shy kid before. Back then, it was my best friend who was in the Dramatics club in our school. I was in the Library club. Yes, I'm serious. I can be such a geek. Anyway, in 7th grade, this best friend of mine literally pushed and pulled me into the music room for my very first audition for our school's musical production. She ended up quitting by sneaking out of the first rehearsal, and I stayed. And I actually enjoyed it. I had no choice but to interact with all the kids in the play, from the ones in junior prep to the high school seniors.
I was afraid of choreography when I was already in theater, but out of sheer fascination about ballroom dancing, I tried it. It became the foundation of how I became a one-time dance fitness teacher. I was afraid to teach, but with encouragement, I was able to pass our certification exam. In time, I was able to face my students with confidence and talk to them with ease.
When my mentor put me in charge of communications and discovered my weird case of stage fright, she made me practice speaking to different clients so that I could overcome it.
If you go into your courage zone, that's already one big step.
Find a mentor. Sure, you may see a mentor in people such as John Maxwell or Bo Sanchez, especially through their books, but I definitely recommend that you get a mentor that you can actually talk to in person. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from your mentor, because they may have already gone through what you are going through right now. Also, be teachable and always be open to constructive criticism. Your mentor may tell you certain things that you need to hear other than the things you just want to hear.
I have a mentor in theater, a mentor in dance, and a mentor in character development. All of them keep encouraging what is best for me, and tell me bluntly about the things I need to improve on. There are times when my mentors may be a little tough on me, but I'm actually grateful that they were because that's how I was able to grow.
Yes, you actually interact. Spend time with people. Make friends.
Spend time with people who have the same interests you do. They'll be the ones who will encourage you no matter how crazy your dream may be. They'll support you, and the ones who are more experienced may help and guide you.
Also spend time with people who have different interests from you. Who knows, if you haven't found that one big thing, they'll actually be the ones who will lead you to it.
As I had said earlier, the learning never stops. Keep trying, even if you're not good at it. If you come to realize that that thing isn't really your core gift, at least you've learned something new.
When I was acting in workshops years ago, I thought I would never be as good as the ones I was taking the classes with. So I tried another path and pursued dancing. I found myself among people who learned how to dance as soon as they had learned to walk, and there I was, at age 30, and a big standout as a novice. There were some hip movements in Latin ballroom that I cannot execute as gracefully as they could because they had been doing it for years, and my body was still trying to adjust to all those new movements. I may not be as good as they are (despite all their coaching and possible frustration in me), but the things I can be proud of from that experience was that I finally learned how to dance, and teach dance fitness as well.
When I decided to take another acting workshop after that, I simply said I just wanted to see if I can still act. And hey, I can still do it, and maybe a little better now than before.
I realized that there were some things then that I was taught but I couldn't really understand yet due to experience. When I left and came back, I had a better view of things with a more open mind, and finally understood what those lessons were trying to teach me.
Another piece of advice. Don't be afraid of any rejections that you may get along the way. It may actually just be God's redirections. I had taken so many detours, but it's all part of the learning.
This is the best part of today's generation. There's easy access of social media. Use it to your advantage. Find groups online that may help you support your interests. Millennials have it so easy because of Facebook. Maximize it to your potential.
Instead of posting rants and unnecessary viral stuff, why not post and share inspiring messages? People may read it while randomly scrolling through, take it to heart, and thank you. You may actually be blessing others with that simple online gesture.
You can also promote yourself online. If you enjoy writing and own a blog, write passionately and share your posts. An aspiring photographer? Post your best photos on Facebook and Instagram. It's possible that you may the one people are looking for.
With these 5 things I had just shared, here's one more important thing.
Yes. Smile. It's very simple but important about interacting. Because as some people have said, "The first connection between two strangers is a smile." Brighten someone's day with a simple smile.
Shortly after my birthday, someone had asked me, "How does it feel to be 35? What have you accomplished that you're proud of?"
I honestly don't know.
Do you have to feel a particular way when you're a certain age?
But what I am most proud of about myself is that I keep trying and learning no matter how old I get.
If you still haven't found your purpose at a certain age, don't rush it. Hey, when I turned 30 years old, I went back to square one and started over. I took a big leap.
God's timing is always perfect, so don't worry. And He'll bring you to the right people who will help you push through with your dreams.
Thank you so much to my amazing sister in Christ, Ree Bringuelo, for inviting me as a speaker at your event. I cannot thank you enough for being so encouraging, as it was my first time to give a talk. It was a very empowering experience for me.