“I don’t want other people’s opinions to affect my thinking.”
— Thomas Edison who declined when he was offered the first hearing aid.
Sometimes not knowing it’s impossible makes it possible.
Many things today have happened because people refused to believe they were unachievable. They were not discouraged by negative people who would immediately put you down when you’ve got a great idea. If they had prevailed or these insane innovators listened to them, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. We wouldn’t be able to fly nor send man to the moon. We wouldn’t call somebody on the other side of the world nor see what millions of people are doing in real time from a small box. And many years ago, nobody would ever dare to hope or believe that an African-American would rise to become the 44th president of America.
I hate these negative whiny people because they’re so good at spouting assumptions they haven’t tried. Tim Ferriss once said, “Be very careful at testing Fact and Assumptions. If you haven’t tested it yet, it’s not Fact.”
In this case, had I listened or gave a damn on what they thought, I would have not have been where I am right now blogging with you and for you under the Great Firewall of China. Sometimes nobody gave me any assumptions at all so I just went right ahead and did them.
- Getting two degrees in different schools at the same time. Impossible. Back then, I had a goal to go to the States to become a Special Education teacher. I didn’t want to study teacher training for one year and get my special ed diploma the next. I didn’t like to get left behind. The solution? Study the two programs at the same time. I enrolled in two different colleges –each never knowing I’d done so until the time came to get my transcript of records.
“You studied for two degrees in the same year? Cannot be done,” the academic registry lady said. Too late. I had already gone right ahead and did it. To top it off, I also enrolled in a special education program catered specifically for teaching autistic students in another private school. That was the third certificate I got that year. 😀
- Going back one year behind intentionally. This was one of the funniest things I’ve ever done. Calculating my units in university, I realized I’d have to stay for one more semester and not graduate with my classmates. I was a junior at that time and couldn’t take that chance. So I sharpened my acting skills and told the guy in my department that the computer made a mistake and I was supposed to be in my second year. He made the adjustments and I was able to take the necessary units. The system was able to correct my year at the end but not till it was already finals. I’d like to think because of that incident, the university made sure their computer system made it a must not to change the year level of their students. By then, I was on my way to getting that diploma at my intended time.
- “You can’t work abroad without slaving away for 10 years in your own country.”
“Pay your dues first.”
“Get a master’s degree.”
Fortunately, I never heard these assumptions until I was already working in China for a year and paid my dues for only 6 months. Later I met someone else who did better than me. She had not worked in the Philippines at all and immediately got a job overseas through an agency after she graduated.
We must not let assumptions stop us from getting what we desired.
- Not getting your master’s degree in order to get a job at the university. I’ve never went to graduate school and yet, here I am teaching college students. I do plan to get an MA in literature soon only for the sole reason that I’d love to study and drink deep from all those great works of literature again and meet people who burn with the same passion.
- A friend once told me nobody would ever want to read my works because my writing wasn’t good enough except if I write about a really interesting topic like a stupid Chinese minority group. My pride was at the lowest that day. My stories were regarded as “rubbish”, “not good enough” and my articles for travel and self-development would be “of no use to anyone” and “not inspire them”. The worst was when she told me I wasn’t even fit to wipe the boots of the Chinese writers to which my mind screamed, “Some of those a—holes write about fantasy video game characters! You call them writers?!”
That friend wasn’t a writer, by the way but felt her opinions should be highly regarded just because she had a PhD and was invited to work at NASA. If she was a fellow conjurer of words, my self-esteem would be in really deep shit and I’d find it difficult to recover.
This incident happened many months ago. She might have forgotten it but I haven’t. That was the day I resolved to prove her wrong.
I’d like to meet her again one day and tell her, “You once told me nobody will be interested in what I write. Well, guess what? I don’t think 112 readers a day is nothing.”
- Becoming an English major.
“You won’t have a job and not earn any money.”
“How can you support yourself?”
“How can you achieve your dream of traveling abroad?”
These were the questions I often met from friends and family everyday. I come from a family of businessmen, doctors and accountants. Why I chose my major was a favorite fodder for a topic during dinner and at parties. Whenever I answered their questions of what program I was in, I’m often greeted with a face that lost all enthusiasm. You could see everything in slow motion. The eyes would lose the color. The smile would drop and then rose up to become so obviously fake followed by the inevitable “Why?”
“Because I love it.”
Is there no other reason? Should there be anything else? I didn’t want to spend four years of my life in misery and then spend another 5 or 10 years slaving off earning money in a job I hated just to study the degree I want. Why not just effin’ do it?
This is why I never spent my life in regret. Why make yourself miserable in the first place when you can choose happiness? Now you might be wondering, “What about you Kate? You’re not exactly in the job you want and here you are telling me what to do when you aren’t doing it yourself.” True but let me tell you, I’m still teaching something that I love –English. There are days that I hate just standing there talking but looking at my students’ faces something in me stirs and then I know I’m at least making a difference. Making a contribution. Another proof is the fact that I’m blogging for you right now. That I’m choosing to do something that makes me tremendously happy. Writing is the bane and soul of my existence. It is what keeps me going. This is the reason why I exist and was put on earth to do. And I do this day by day –doing something that I love, consciously choosing to be happy because I deserve to be happy. And so can you.
So does everyone else.
Don’t hold back on that great idea. Don’t be afraid to do something you’ve always wanted to do just because some idiot said it can’t be done or you don’t have the talent to do it. That’s what they said to Darren LaCroix and look at him. He’s become the 2001 Toastmasters International World Speaker and bested all the speakers in the world. Bloggers were once thought not to make any ounce of money years ago. And many also thought setting one step on the moon was just a dream.
How many things have you dared not try because somebody told you not to?