As I took the first sip of bitter coffee on that September day, a realization hit me that I had officially stepped into the post college life. Surrounded by many strange faces in a brand new environment, I couldn’t help but feel excited and anxious. There were so many new experiences that would soon become daily norms, the clicking of dress shoes and heels as people walked around the office, having a BlackBerry on a holster for easy communication, hell, even the disgusting taste of black coffee.
I sat in on a team meeting that morning, and as I watched the trainings my teammates ran through with full confidence, a sliver of fear crept up inside me. Thoughts raced through my head, and questions with no answers popped out of nowhere. “I don’t understand anything they are talking about. Is it really hot in here or is that just the coffee kicking in? Are they going to put me on the spot? I can’t embarrass myself on the first day. How can they possible know the response to all of that?” After two or three thoughts I realized I had coffee for my caffeine tolerance. I had never drank coffee in college, not even to study at 4am. Of course, the team never called on me for anything that day. What was I thinking, I hadn’t had a single day of training yet.
This apprehension wasn’t a novel feeling to me. This is the same feeling I had when I first started to dance, the same feeling I had when I stepped into high school, college, and America. In fact any time when I’ve taken on something new in life, this fear would present itself, and for that I am extremely thankful. I have always been a firm believer that there’s a force that allows me to be motivated and driven to outwork other people. This fear was that force. This fear of failure is what drives me to work harder for success. Simple, I know, but I’ve always hated losing, especially knowing that I could have done better. That fact alone makes me push myself harder to avoid that regret. When I first joined NSU modern, I was the slowest learner on the team. I remember one night we were casting for a certain routine and I screwed up half the routine and could not catch up in any part of the other half. That was a huge embarrassment to me. Moreover, according to the coordinator’s basic rules of hip hop, Size, Shape and Style were the three S’s to being a more complete dancer. Apparently I had none of those. To make up for my shortcomings, I forced myself to practice after practice had officially ended. I pushed myself to watch videos of good dancers to imitate them. I got in front of full body mirrors to make sure I get a better awareness for how I look when I move my body. After a few months, I eventually got a lot better at learning and retaining routines, and it’s really all thanks to that fear of failure. Not only does it push me to work hard, but it also allows me to develop good habits whenever I come upon a new transition.
This day at work wasn’t the first time I had to make a transition into a different stage of life, nor the last. After all the new experiences and sensations from that morning, I honestly had no clue what type of challenges I would chance upon in this position. But when that fear surfaced as I sat there that morning, I knew I was going to make the best of this experience and come out a better man.