I am waiting for a train to go home. My hands are shaking and it feels like my lungs have shrunk. What I have just done, I will have to do again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, until this feeling subsides.
I have just started my new job as a radio announcer. How it happened boggles my mind. A few days after my return from the Shaolin Kung Fu school, I was invited to a local radio station to be interviewed about my experience there. I went to the station with my story, and came back with a job offer. It was quite a morning. It felt almost scripted.
Radio announcing is certainly a lot harder than it sounds. I was given a week-long crash course on jargon, the dos and don’ts of format radio, and working the studio board. As someone who spends her life avoiding pressing any more buttons than she needs to, the latter is terrifying.
Then I was told that that is child’s play compared to creating the on-air persona, the voice that people would want to listen to, hopefully, for four hours straight. And to top it all off, I have been trained in half the usual time. I have hit the ground and holy smokes am I running.
The fight-or-flight sensation feels similar to the time I heard a crowd pouring in for my first-ever theatre performance as a teenager.
Similar to the first time I felt a surge of power propel my surfboard forward in my first surfing lesson in Bali.
Similar to the first time I stepped onto Chinese soil to study Kung Fu and not understanding a lick of what anyone around me was saying.
Similar to the time I heard my name getting called out at the airport by a love interest whom I met online and travelled halfway across the world to meet for the first time.
And similar to the time I flicked the same switch twice in my family home that caused two power trips which resulted in the shelling of my life courtesy of my dad.
My aunt was visiting our home at the time, and as I sat in my room biting my bottom lip to stop my eyes from welling, wondering what I had done wrong, Aunty Lilian came up and sat by my bedside.
“He only told you off because he loves you,” she said. “You must be so scared. It’s okay to cry.” And she stroked my back, and I wailed.
Constantly findings ways of “scaring” myself makes me seem a little bit looney. Yet, these are the best favours I’ve done myself.
When I set myself up for a good scare, it means that I intend to try out something bigger than myself. It means that I will be engaging my head and heart in new areas and new ways. It means that change is inevitable.
Being fearful of certain things is natural, but I suppose people prefer not to be seen in vulnerable states or situations that make them prone to mockery.
I believe, however, that brave people are not born, and that sometimes, the riskiest decisions have the potential to not just influence the doers, but an entire society to advance in intelligence, competency, and worth.
I still cry, as much as ever. I even wiped away a few tears from my eyes as I was behind the microphone on my first shift. And thanks to Aunty Lilian, I know that it is completely okay. I now know that fear and self-doubt is secondary to the fact that I was brave enough to put myself in this position in the first place.
I have another long journey ahead in my new career, with big shoes to fill. There will be occasions where I will fluster and panic and doubt myself and mistakes will be made. But the people whom I owe my survival up to this point to are those I have attracted into my life – the theatre director, the surfing instructor, the Kung Fu masters and classmates, the Englishman on Facebook, and now my new boss in radio – who see me for who I am instead of my insecurities.
Because just as important as the chances we take, are the people who have faith in being a part of them.>The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.