How To Reach The Stars

I got an email this morning from a Motivated Sista subscriber. This Motivated Sista wants to move abroad, but she feels that her ‘worst enemy’ is herself and her family. She asked me to write a post that would motivate her to make that move.

First of all, when I met this sista, I felt that she was one of the most fearless women I’d ever met. She has a strong and dynamic personality – she’s not afraid to say what she feels, to tell it exactly like it is and cut through the bull to the real point. I’ve also seen some of the work she’s done to promote issues that she believes in – she’s planned events, networked like crazy and traveled to DC to meet other like-minded women. So I was a bit surprised that she would be holding herself back. But, like she said, each person is their own worst enemy. We all have ways in which we hold ourselves back from reaching our full potential. And we sometimes have distorted images of ourselves, where we don’t see how great we really are and wonder how others can hold us in such high regard.

I can clearly see this sista being her bold, fearless self… in Paris. Très magnifique!

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Don’t Let Your Family Hold You Back
Our families play a huge part in our lives. They’re the ones who define our morals, teach us how to see the world and give us our first lessons in man- or womanhood. The thing is, our visions of ourselves and our desires generally don’t line up with our family’s desires and expectations of us. If left to them, we would be sheltered, inexperienced, SAFE people. We would have never fallen in love, thus not experienced the pain of heartbreak; never left home to go to college, that way we wouldn’t be tempted with sex, drugs, or those darn credit card offers on campus; and never made friends with people that they didn’t approve of. We’d choose jobs that ‘make good money’ regardless of our level of satisfaction or personal growth. We’d choose mates based on security rather than characteristics. In short, we’d be mini versions of them… not the people we’ve grown to be.

As much as our families love us, they can’t live for us. We have to make our own decisions and blaze our own trails independent of them. We can go to them for input, sure… but it has to be just that. Because we’re not motivated by the same things as our family members, thus they can’t fully understand why we want certain things. They can either choose to support us, or not. But that’s the extent of their control in our lives – the amount of input they get to make in our decisions. Because honestly, if we allow them to, they will let their fears influence our decisions, when we have enough of our own fears to grapple with. Their main objective is to keep you safe; your main objective is to live your dreams. They’re frequently not the same thing and often clash.

Trafalgar Square, London

Now the negative part of this scenario is that our family members don’t always want us to succeed. Not everyone wants people to experience things they didn’t experience; not everyone wants their offspring, sibling or cousin to go farther than they ever will. I don’t think this is a conscious decision, but I’ve seen it happen. I wouldn’t want you to listen to their fears and advice, no matter how good their intentions, and let those feelings keep you from living a life you dream about.

One thing you can do is ask each naysayer what their dreams were when they were your age. Or, before they got married/had children/had debt etc. Draw out of them the things they regret, or that they wish they would’ve done. Instead of saying “I don’t want to look back and regret not reaching this dream”, show them how they’ve held themselves back. Now if, after that, they still have reasons that you shouldn’t go, you have to practice tuning them out.

When talking to your family, let their advice go in one ear and out the other. Especially if its advice not to follow through on your dream. Listen to the constructive advice that’s given, like how to find jobs when you’re abroad or positive stories of how someone they know moved abroad. If it doesn’t aid in your efforts, you have to get to a mental place where you let it roll of you like water off a duck’s back. At first this takes practice, but after a while, they’ll start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher…”you shouldn’t go…wah wah wah…”

The Trevi Fountain, Rome

Don’t Let Your Mind Hold You Back
You already know that your mind is your biggest enemy in this thing. That’s actually pretty huge. What I’d do is a twist on the old exercise of writing down the yes/no list. I use this process myself and the more you do it, the easier it is to ignore the excuses your mind comes up with. Remember, your mind wants you to do what’s familiar; whenever you start something new, it automatically tries to talk you out of it. Girlfriend, you gotta feel the fear and do it anyway.

Here’s the process: take a sheet of paper and make a line down the middle. On the left side, write a list of all the reasons your mind is saying you shouldn’t go, or whatever it is that that little voice is repeating over and over in your head. Complete this list first. Then, for each item on the left side, write a corresponding reason that reason isn’t true. Here’s an example:

Why I Can’t Go Why I Gotta Go
I don’t have a job; the economy sucks right now. I can find one before I leave, and if not I’ll have a backup plan when I get there.
I’ll never see my family. If I moved across the country, I wouldn’t see them either. I have to plan to see them, but ‘never’ is a long time.
I won’t know anyone when I get there. I’m an attractive, outgoing woman. It won’t be hard to make new friends, especially expats who’ve been in my shoes.

Old Town Square, Prague

What this does is give you responses to that voice holding you back. I’d carry this around with me and look at my “Why I Gotta Go” list as often as possible. I’d also make a vision board with pictures from where you want to move and a list of things you want to do and places you want to visit when you get there. And realize, too, that the fear is not going to go away. Even when you move, and are firmly settled in your new life, you’ll still have fears. That’s why I say you have to push through the fear and go after your dream anyway.

Even if no one else believes in you, YOU believe in you. Its your life and those same people who didn’t think you could do it, or didn’t want you to go, will be jealous when they see your pics and postcards. “I can’t believe you actually did it!” they’ll say. They’ll still be sitting in the same place, doing the same things. Whereas you will be one of the few people in the world who actually lives their dreams. Plus I need someone to visit as I live my dreams!

5 thoughts on “How To Reach The Stars

  1. I LOVE this Anilia! Hope that sista is motivated enough to make the move. You motivated me and I wasnt considering going anywhere…..may have to pack my things also to seek a better life : )!

    I am going to send this to one of my friends. The whole while I was reading it I was thinking of her, especially “. And we sometimes have distorted images of ourselves, where we don’t see how great we really are and wonder how others can hold us in such high regard.”


    1. Thanks Tams! If you make that move, be sure to lemme know where you are. I love to travel and want to visit some motivated sistas who’ve made their dreams happen! I hope your friend gets the push she needs to reach for her stars too.

  2. Ahh! It’s like I wrote to you myself! Just last week, I decided for certain to pick up and move to Texas…to reach my career, academic, and personal goals. I haven’t told my family yet, because I know they will nay-say, but this is something I have to do for myself. So I will. And I will be successful in it.

    1. You sure will be Meelah! You already know what you want and why… I love your focus on the end result. And your family will appreciate a happier, more successful Meelah too. Keep goin sis! =)

  3. I really enjoyed reading this blog, because I have experience both sides of this subject. (Listening to family and being my worst enemy)

    I’d like to not only lend my advice, but also share my own personal experiences on this subject in hopes of motivating a sista who’s trying to get motivated!

    In Aug. of 2008 I left the military after serving 7yrs. that including one tour of duty over seas in Iraq. I wanted to take a break and do something different! After being out for about 2 to 3mo. I decided that I wanted to re-enlist and go back in. (might sound crazy to some)

    When I initially joined the military I did not consult w/ anyone I just raised my hand and went in. But after getting out and then expressing to family that I wanted to go back in some had a few thoughts of there own that they wanted to share! One very close relative stated that I had already done my time and I should just stay out. Another relative expressed how dangerous the situation was over seas and that it was just getting worst. I understood my families concerns and reactions, and I love them all the more for showing their concern. Ultimately the decision was mine to make!

    1. I understood that I had already served my time, because I was the one who did 7yrs. of duty.

    2. I knew about the dangers that existed in combat, because I was the one deployed and in the combat zone doing 6 days on w/ one day off.

    My reasoning for wanting to go back in the military was simple, ” I liked it!”

    Again, I was very acquainted w/ the territory that I was exploring re-entering! Eventually I made the decision to not go back in right now. I did want to take in consideration the concerns of my loved ones, but my decision was not based off the sum of just their thoghts and feelings. I made my decision to stay out because I had already “been there, and done that!” So I wasn’t missing anything! If it were any different it probly still be egging me in the back of my mind.

    My second experience which I hope you will find beneficial I just ended a 5yr. relationship. Throughout the course of it I had determined on numerous occasions that the relationship was becoming unhealthy for both of us.

    But just like all couples and individuals who are in love I ignored the signs and decided to stick it out in hopes that things would change.

    They didn’t! As our situation began to grow progressively worst I determined that I wanted to see other people. I surpressed the thought from my mine and continue to hang in there despite the idea that our ship was still sinking fast.

    Eventually it got to the point were I couldn’t shake the thought of wanting to date other people from my mind any longer. I was growing more and more unhappy.

    I knew two things were bound to happen if I kept ignoring the matter;

    1. I was going to become angry, bitter, regretful, and unhappy which would lead to further issues.

    2. I would end up seeing other people behind her back.

    In the end I made the decision to call it quits after 5yrs. for the sake of a piece of mind.

    In conclusion, if your family is supportive of you sure they’ll be upset initially, but they’ll eventually get over it and still love you anyway. They’ll still be your family whether you’re home or living abroad. The same vehicle by which you choose to leave, you can alway use to come back for visits. It will also give those same individuals or family members who are trying to keep you from leaving, or who have lived that “safe and shelter” life a opportunity to travel themselves if they’ve never done so. If they have traveled or lived abroad why deny you the experience?

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