About two weeks ago, while I was on my way to the Kapisanan Centre, I saw a piece of street art that I immediately fell in love with. It was two pixelated figures in black, on a white background, with a red heart between them. It was, at most, two square feet, and was tucked away unobtrusively in an alley down at Kensington Market. But I kept putting off taking photos, mostly because I would say to myself, oh, it’ll still be there next time I’m in the area. This went on for days.
Until I came back last Wednesday and it wasn’t there anymore. I was heartbroken; I had really wanted to take a photo of it, and now I’d lost the opportunity to do so forever.
That incident made me think back to all the times I hadn’t taken chances because of complacency. When my laziness (or arrogance) got in the way of possibilities, of chances, of opportunities. The first time I can remember deliberately indulging this behaviour was when I was a senior in high school. I only took the entrance exam to one university, the University of Saint La Salle, for one program (BSN), because I was so confident that I would get in. Get in I did, but the arrogance of 15-year-old Dani was too much. What would I have done had I not gotten in? The idea of not having a back up plan years ago makes present-day me very uneasy. The thought of not having a fallback in case things go (very) wrong is as unpalatable to me as day old cheese sandwiches. Some things you just can’t choke down with water. Or juice. Or even chilled vanilla lattes from McDs.
The second time I did not take a chance because of complacency was when I arrived in Toronto and began applying to colleges. The first time I applied, I only applied to George Brown College, for a pre-health program. At the time, I still thought I would be continuing my Nursing degree, so it seemed the logical choice. I took several placement tests in maths and in science – and I never got in. Discouraging, man. By the next cycle of applications, I was ready. I had realized that I did not want to do Nursing, and I had gathered my wits. I planned things out. I applied to two programs: Early Childhood Education at George Brown, a joint program with Ryerson University, and Liberal Arts at Seneca College, joint program with the University of Toronto.
I got accepted into both – and I was so desperate to begin my studies immediately that when I got my Liberal Arts acceptance letter, I immediately enrolled at Seneca even though I wanted the Early Childhood program more. I adore kids, and I had just finished a summer volunteering at Alef-Bet Daycare. My rotations for Nursing were also almost always in the Pedia wards, so I felt that working with children was something I would love to do. If that ended up being my career path, I would eventually have gone into doing research on autism. However, fate played a prank on me: the day after my Seneca acceptance letter arrived, mere hours after I paid the enrolment fee, my acceptance letter to the Early Childhood Education program arrived. I had not thought I would get in because according to the speaker who conducted the entrance test, they screened 900+ students for 50 open spots. I was in the very last batch they tested, and I had gotten in. My heart broke. I was inconsolable. In hindsight, I could have tried to get a refund from Seneca in order to enrol at George Brown, but I wasn’t thinking very clearly at that point. I was desperate to get into school.
But Dani, you ask, why were you applying for college? Did you not already finish your BS in Nursing back in the Philippines? Yes, dear reader, I did. And that is the last time I did not take a chance because of complacency – I wrote to UofT asking if I could finish my studies there on the strength of my La Salle grades. They asked me to submit a test of English fluency, such as TOEFL, or some such thing. I felt so discouraged by the response that I decided not to continue my application. There was always next year, right? As it turns out, I did still end up at UofT (huzzah, Woodsworth!), but it took me at least a year more. I could just have done that TOEFL exam and been there already sooner, but because of my less than enthusiastic efforts, I decided not to take risks.
At certain points in our lives, we will inevitable be confronted with the choice of taking or not taking a chance. I know that the logical decision is to use our heads, and weigh what the better option would be. Are the consequences too heavy to shoulder? Maybe playing it safe is the right way to do things this time. Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. You alone know what you should ultimately do. All I know is that the last time I bit the proverbial bullet and took a leap of faith, I landed not one, but two internships. And the Consulate and the Kapisanan Centre has exposed me to wonderful, talented people and an amazing summer experience that I know for sure I would never have encountered had I stayed inside my safety bubble, had I not sent those two emails asking them if they would take me.
Cheers, friends. Buckle in, hold tight. It’ll be a good ride.
*”Leap and the net will appear” taken from the Jason Mraz song Make It Mine.
Where I was and what was playing: Safe in bed, and One Republic’s Counting Stars