“For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did. And I get the sweats. I go in and start working, I’m not sure where I’m going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn’t do it.” – Frank Gehry
It has been almost two and a half years since I read David Batstone’s book Not For Sale. I was visiting San Francisco for the first time and little did I know I would be back in two years to become a fellow in the Not For Sale Fellowship program. From the first few pages to the very end, the book cultivated a sense of passion towards the anti-trafficking movement within me. I couldn’t help but think that this is where my heart belonged, which was followed by the daunting torment in my mind that I had chosen the wrong major in school.
As I learned more about the organization, I was able to let out a giant sigh of relief. A core belief at Not For Sale is that everyone has a role to play in the movement to end modern-day slavery. I wanted to dig deeper and find out what my role in this movement would be. I wanted to make my passion a vocation, and Not For Sale had the tools I could use to get there. I wanted to be part of this opportunity so much, but anxiety set in and I began to question myself:
What if my lack of formal education in this area holds me back?
What if I’m much older than everyone else?
What if my finances don’t last?
Everyone around me is “settling down” – should I be doing the same?
…followed by several more what ifs and yeah buts…
Listening to my insecurities was holding me back. I was making excuses for myself that had the best of intentions but were really making me a coward. What others envisioned for themselves is not what I wanted; I wanted to love what I do, and do something I believe in. I downloaded the application for the Not For Sale Fellowship, took the time to convey what I had to offer and what I wanted to get out of the Fellowship, then sent it in, hands sweaty, hair messy, and full of apprehension.
I’m now halfway through this fellowship and I know that I have learned new skills and been part of new experiences that I could not have learned or received from any formal education or job experience out there. Coming into work everyday is like walking into the maternity ward where mind babies are born, and as a fellow, I get to take that baby and help push it through puberty. It’s incredibly fascinating, fast-paced and inspiring. These past few months have been invaluable to my growth in not only my career in social justice, but as an individual as well. It’s helped me build my confidence, allowed me to become an expert in the field, and has allowed me to be part of a movement that is making real change in this world. I would not be where I am today if I had listened to my fears.