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Getting Real About Overcoming Fear

As a natural-born goal-setter, I look forward to this time of the year. I go into reflecting mode, brainstorming and identifying what I want to shape, influence and impact next year. I love the act of declaration and believe it is a great way to unleash personal power and foster growth.

I know there’s many of you out there like me. So you’ll agree, that there’s no better way to start the new year than sitting at your kitchen table with a cup of cafe con leche writing down your annual goals. There’s nothing more invigorating and rewarding than looking ahead at the new year with optimistically fresh eyes and taking pen to paper.

But Jan. 1, 2012 was different.

Instead of being hopeful and excited for my annual New Year’s Day ritual, I was annoyed and frustrated. For 17 years, I had written down the same goal: Make a film about what it’s like being a first-generation American born Latina living in the U.S.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I ‘hate’ not achieving my goals, but somehow this goal continued to elude me – over and over and over again. While many of my goals waned in importance, this goal only got stronger and it became more important. But after 17 years and 17 times at my kitchen table, I stared at my paper and realized I had still not done anything to accomplish this goal. How could I possibly write this goal down again?

Over the years, I had allowed fear and excuses to replace action. I was concerned about what others might think. I was afraid that I was in over my head since I was not a filmmaker. Simply put, I was scared, and rightfully so.

But as I sat at my kitchen table debating on whether or not to write down this goal, I realized I was more afraid of being a spectator in my own life. I wanted to be out on the court actively living out my life-long dream, not just sitting on the sidelines. And so it happened.

That morning, as I wrote down the goal to create this film, which is now known as Project Eñye, I made a pledge to myself that I would do whatever it took to take my dream off pause and put this film project in motion.

It’s been almost four years now and I am so proud and humbled by the work we are accomplishing with Project Eñye. It’s hard not to look back at that 17-year stretch and wish that my younger self had been a little stronger, a little less afraid. Where would Project Enye be today had I started 17 years ago? But then I remember, it’s never too late.

I realized that the girl that had this idea almost 20 years ago needed to grow into the woman I am today. The personal and professional challenges I’ve faced these last few years have sometimes felt overwhelming and in all honesty, I don’t know how resilient I would have been then versus now. I’m empathetic towards that younger me because I realize that I needed almost two decades of amazing life experiences to be my foundation and remind me that ‘yes, I can do this.’

Through Project Eñye, I’ve had the great fortune of speaking at various events, and I often share this story with attendees. I punctuate it with an invitation to dust off shelved dreams or ideas and turn them into action.

One day, you just might wake up and realize you are better prepared to take that next step and tackle that something you weren’t ready for earlier in life. On that day, I hope you run like the wind towards your goal. And as fast as you can, find other people running in the same direction and hold onto them tight.

When you get scared, and you will, don’t indulge it for too long. I’m not sure how long it will take or what your journey will look like, but if you are like me, you will grow and you will make changes for the better and you might just make your corner of the world a better place for all of us.

I look forward to your day.

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