Destinations Missed: India and South Africa

They say that once an opportunity passes by, we should “always” grab it. Not all opportunities come by so easily, and sometimes they only come once.

Months before today, I’ve actively worked for achieving two specific “opportunities.” MAY 2013 was supposed to be a month of immense discoveries for me.

One opportunity that was handed out to me was the chance to travel to India, on a sponsored trip by the Asian Development Bank. I could have been a social media correspondent, who actively engaged in the discussions and who learned from the different sessions being held. I could have met several inspiring individuals and groups, and gained many worthwhile memories along the way. I could have also explored India (with some college friend/s), and could have visited these places in person:

India’s Taj Mahal (Photograph by Apratim Saha)

Agra’s Red Fort Temple (Photography by Martin Bauer)

Henna Hands (Photograph by Petra Warner)

Random memory: When I was in Malaysia last year, I met a friend (she’s from Bangladesh) who made henna art on my hand. It was a simple design, but lovely nonetheless. When I headed for the airport that night and checked-in, one of the airport crew asked me whether I just got married! Haha. I guess, since he saw my henna, he might have thought that I attended a special wedding ceremony. (Marriage? Noooo! Too young for that! Haha.) That was my first and last time to have henna on my hand. I wonder though how it would be like, to have one done by a seasoned artist in India. 

Amber Palace and Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur (Photograph by Patitucci/Aurora Photos)

The other opportunity that was also due for this month was the chance to participate in a prestigious youth leadership event. Apparently, I was the only one selected from my country. Around 26 young leaders and change-makers, from around the world have been selected to participate in this event to be held in Durban, South Africa. When I found out that I got admitted, I was definitely excited. I imagined myself attending the trip in India first, and then flying over to South Africa a few days after. I just wondered how much I could learn from this event, especially in terms of developing the socio-civic idea that I had in mind. By being able to network with more people and organizations, I was optimistic that many people could help me fuel my idea. I was also very eager to join in and be part of a bigger network of youth, who were all actively engaging in various socio-civic and political endeavors. I believe that the passion that these young individuals brim is infectious.

Of course, the thought of landing in South Africa thrilled me too. Aside from Durban, there’s Cape Town and Johannesburg–some places that I would love to see, during this lifetime.

Durban’s North Beach (Photograph by Stuart Fox)

Cape Town: From an Aerial Tram (Photograph by Roger de la Harpe)

Cape of Good Hope: Touchdown (Photo from http://www.rgbstock.com)

Cape of Good Hope (Photograph by April Badilles)

Johannesburg’s Lion Park (Photo from TripAdvisor)

Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum (Photo from TripAvisor)

The photos look amazing, right? I bet being able to see such places in person would dazzle us all the more. Imagine living through these photographs by actually being there.

Unfortunately though, I’ve let these opportunities pass. I’ve missed them.  There are many factors that poured in, making me miss these opportunities. I guess, this is not the right time yet for me to avail of these opportunities. I don’t know if I would be able to come across such offers in the future, but I still remain hopeful. Part of me believes that this isn’t the only chance that I’ll come across.

I fervently believe that in the future, once all my priorities and resources are set out straight, then I could grab hold of similar opportunities. There are others to come, I believe.

All I’ve got to do now is make sure that I spend this month well enough. I must be productive and disciplined, knowing that I’ve given up such opportunities for an important commitment that I must focus on. The drive to fulfill this commitment must be consistent and strong. I cannot let petty distractions (no matter how appealing they may be) shatter my drive to focus and deliver.

I’ve let go of these opportunities, in exchange for a lone commitment that I believe, upon fulfillment, will open up more doors for me.

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The Blind Side

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.” -J.K. Rowling

In an effort to inspire me, one of my friends made me listen to the commencement speech J.K. Rowling gave in front of the graduating Harvard community. Her speech was an inspiring one. She talked about the benefits of failure to a multitude of people who are easily branded as some of the world’s over-achievers. She speaks about how a failure can be liberating.

As with my other post, I’ve expressed how failures can move us to achieve more. It opens up a new path for us to explore and conquer. It gives us the opportunity to rise up despite the setback. It tests our level of conviction in life and, it pushes us further to commit until we achieve.

In fact, at times, a failure is a blessing in itself. It deviates us towards another path of growth and success–a path that we would not have considered if we did not fail in the first place. Sometimes, we wrap our minds with the idea that there is only one specific path in order for us to become successful. We become too scared to fail because we think that life will begin to crumble unless we get to achieve our goal–the way we wanted it to be.

Then again, as human beings, we must acknowledge that we can’t control everything. No matter how passionate we are, at times, we really are doomed to stumble and fall. When we gain the courage to stand up from this fall, we find ourselves traversing alternative paths that we have not considered before. We become more open-minded and are given the chance to consider a different path towards maximizing our potentials, talents and wit all the more.

Call it Divine Intervention or what, failures are sometimes painful blessings that lead people towards the right direction. We may not understand it at the present moment but years from now, usually, everything starts to makes sense. We become wiser and realize that it was in fact necessary for us to stumble first, to be deviated towards another path, in order for us to become the person we were set to be. Eventually, in the future, we do not regret the failure that has hurt us deeply but rather, become thankful that it has happened to us.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everything has been set out “planned” for us. We do, to some extent, have control over our lives. Once we fail, we are given the choice to decide what we’re going to do right after. Should we stand up once again or should we just give up? Should we give it another shot or should we traverse another path instead? There are many choices that we can make. What’s important is that whatever decision we come up with, that decision is grounded on hope, faith and determination. There is so much more that we can do in this world that usually, it only takes one failure for us to plunge into a multitude of different opportunities.

Life goes on, my fellow sojourner. So should you.