I wanted a tattoo really badly but, then again, I was 18, and at that age you want everything really badly. Your youth convinces you that it’s all or nothing, now or never. So, during a moment of enlightenment, I made a pact with myself: if by the time I turned 25 I still wanted the same design, I would get it done, no questions asked.
My 25th birthday came and went, and so did my design idea. Looking back, I’m extremely thankful I didn’t get that tattoo. I was also quite happy –and impressed—with myself for managing to be so patient and waiting it out, slowly but surely growing out of my everything-has-to-happen-right-now-or-else immaturity. And, although I still wanted a tattoo, I firmly believed that one day I’d simply know what to get.
I chose to trust that my intuition would be on point, and that’s exactly what happened. Three weeks before turning 26, it suddenly hit me: write. That was the tattoo I wanted. That was the tattoo I needed. Simple, concise, demanding. Naturally, it would be inked in a typewriter font, and the period at the end would be crucial, indicating that this was more than just a word. Rather, it would represent an order to myself that, no matter my day job, I should always write.
Allow me to give you some context. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I had use of reason. When I was 13, I started keeping a journal, and to this day I have around 15 notebooks full of my thoughts, rants, ideas, etc. For me, it’s a free and much needed type of therapy. There’s nothing more powerful than being able to use a pen to spill my guts on a piece of paper. Reading through my journals is like rummaging through my bilingual mind; you never know what you’re going to find, or in what language.
However, as with most dreams and passions, fear of failure and rejection always stopped me from pursuing my writing as more than a mere hobby. I did follow through with my goal of becoming a journalist, and that was nice, until I realized that having the freedom to express myself wouldn’t always come easy at a newspaper. More importantly, I didn’t have a platform where I could simply be me through my own, unedited, and uncensored words.
And then blogs came into being. These things were cool, yet I struggled to move forward with one for years because I thought I understood the consequences of putting myself out there: anyone would be able to criticize me for free. Another obstacle was not having a damn clue what to blog about. The content of my journals was too personal, but I also wasn’t an expert in any one topic. What would I contribute to the world?
After leaving the newspaper, I landed a job in sales, which eventually also led me to work with clients. I could write a book about all the incredible skills I learned and acquired during this time, but I also knew all along that it wasn’t my passion. My passion was writing, and I eventually needed to find a way back to that.
Furthermore, it took me a while to understand that I didn’t need to have a book published in order to be a writer. I’m a writer because I write and because that is what I love, period. It was while I was coming to terms with this realization that the idea for my tattoo hit me, and that’s how I knew. So, on the day of my 26th birthday, I took myself to have it permanently etched on my skin. No regrets.
A year and four months later, it’s a constant reminder of the simplicity of my life’s purpose. Since getting the tattoo, I have launched my blog, freelanced for a friend’s online magazine, have been offered to freelance at a friend’s newspaper, and transitioned into an Internal Communications role that allows me to do what I love for a living.
More importantly, I’ve been able to shift my thoughts on the consequences of putting myself out there. Yes, anyone can criticize me for free whenever they feel like it; however, I hadn’t understood that anyone could also choose to freely love what I wrote, and that this very powerful concept would change my life.
Although I’m still astonished by everything I’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time, I ask myself, and you: Should we be surprised that when we risk big for our dreams God obliges?
What are you missing out on?
I know I will never look back, and knowing this helps keep me humble and allows me to count my blessings. Here’s to everyone finding the courage and strength to follow their innermost desires and to share them with others. Help me inspire. And thank you to those who continue to inspire me.
Photo: Belén Alemán / New York City, New York, USA