Who was your favorite Disney character growing up? Yes, I know I’ve asked this question before; I know I’ve said I wanted to be Ariel. But Beauty and the Beast always had a special place in my heart. Yes, part of it was because I wanted to live in that giant library in Prince Charming’s castle (because let’s be honest, what bookworm doesn’t?) But it was also because I found myself relating to Belle, even when I was 5. I knew there was something more for me out there. I knew there was “something more than this provincial life.” Enter 2013, where I finally found a conference called the World Domination Summit that attempts to answer the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” A conference that answers this question? In my favorite city in the United States? Yes, please! I went. And it was magical. So naturally, I had to go again.
And boy was it a roller coaster ride. Last year’s conference taught me a ridiculous amount. This year was no exception.
Expectations Usually Make Things Worse
I admit it: I had impossibly high expectations going into this event. And then the structure changed. Not drastically, but enough to throw me. I kept comparing things from this year to last year. And although I loved the quiet time the big breaks allowed us (and the opportunity to go around my old stomping grounds), I wasn’t able to stay present, and enjoy the ride in some instances. You would think that after my trip to Australia in 2012, I would have learned to expect the unexpected, but I guess the universe decided I needed another lesson. So thank you, universe.
People Want To See You Succeed
I had always been afraid to say what I wanted. You could chalk it up to growing up in a bilingual house. In Japan, it’s not considered polite to be direct. There’s a lot of beating around the bush. And despite the fact that I don’t live in a place where there are bullet trains and cherry blossoms every March, I absorbed some very collectivist values.
On one level, I was not afraid to tell my friends what I wanted.
My friends know that I want to:
a) Work and live in London as a content creator.
b) Travel internationally and live abroad (in cities like Portland, Melbourne, London and Tokyo and other international locations) inspiring kids to believe that they can overcome any sort of obstacles they face, especially in the realm of mental health
c) Use writing and media for good to help erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and build kids’ self-esteem.
d) Be paid to do all this.
It’s one thing to tell your close friends about your dreams when they know that you’ve been traveling since before you knew what a passport was. But to tell every person that you met when they asked “So what do you do?” was a little different, even if you believe that everyone around you was just a friend you hadn’t met yet. I was floundering in my head for a good answer. So rather than just going with the title that I gave myself on my business card, I told people what I wanted to do: I wanted to be paid to use writing and other creative mediums to inspire kids and help erase the stigma around learning differences and mental health all over the world. That’s a lot more interesting and inspiring than just telling people what you do, don’t you think?
In the words of Elise Blaha Cripe (and I am fully aware that I may be paraphrasing): If you make a bold statement (like the one I just made above), it’s on someone else’s radar. And if it’s on someone else’s radar, chances are that when they come across something that could potentially help make that dream a reality, they’ll pass the information on to you. But you have to say your dreams aloud for that to happen. And if you wait until you knew what you were doing, you would never do anything.
Because according to Amy Poehler, great people do things before they are ready.
At the very end of the conference, Chris pulled several people up on stage and gave them some incredible resources to make their dreams come true. He gave one attendee who wanted to write a book in 6 years the opportunity to meet with his literary agent; he gave one attendee 12 cameras for his non-profit. After hugs from the 6 attendees on stage, he closed with the following line (again, pardon the paraphrasing): “We can’t make everyone’s dreams come true; but we have the responsibility to help each other get a little closer to the life we deserve.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Things Are Never The Same The Second Time Around
They could be better. Or they could be worse. Chris Guillebeau and the rest of the team behind the World Domination Summit made some changes this year; for me, some of them stuck, some didn’t. But as Jadah Sellner would say, not all the pieces of spaghetti you will throw at the wall will stick. The magic was just different in comparison to what I had experienced last year when I was grabbing at everything like a kid in a candy store with no expectations. Change is inevitable when you’re trying to improve. Sometimes those changes make lasting improvements; sometimes those changes make you backtrack. Some people will love the changes that you don’t really resonate with. You just have to be insanely curious and find what sticks, and what doesn’t. And if that means admitting that something isn’t working, that’s perfectly fine. But taking imperfect action is better than doing nothing. You learn something new every time. Jadah Sellner summed this up perfectly in her speech when she said, “Letting go is hard. But holding on is like falling back on jet skis and being dragged around the lake.”
I’d rather let go than be dragged around a lake, wouldn’t you?
These lessons weren’t the only thing I took away from the conference: I can now add World Record Breaker to my list of awesome, since I was one of the 808 people who baked themselves in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square in the process of breaking a world record. I was lucky enough to find my tribe in a city that I love, and an equally supportive group of friends to keep the spirit alive, even a few thousand miles away from the Pacific Northwest. For the past two years, I’ve had amazing people come into my life from all over the world. You may not have found your people, but they are out there. Keep looking, and you’ll eventually find them. It’s worth the wait, I promise you.
What have YOU learned from hanging out with your tribe?