“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Both of us remember how terrified we were to take our first steps and how the fear alone kept us from changing our lives. With time comes reflection and we now look back on what scared us the most and what kept us on autopilot thinking we’d rather maintain the status quo than take our first steps in faith.
There was a time when Ming-Wai felt unfulfilled even though she was receiving praise for her hard work, rewarded with raises and promotions. And Ming-Cee lived a blessed life but was feeling out of control, having emotional reactions to the ones she loved the most, and watching herself become someone she didn’t recognize or like very much.
The façade of having it all while feeling lost on the inside would eventually wear on us. It was exhausting, confusing, and made us feel off and inauthentic. But since we were on autopilot, we didn't know any different. Back then, we didn’t take time to pause, analyze, or change our patterns. We were caught in a spiral of asking ourselves “what is expected of me” before asking ourselves “what do I need in my life” and for a long time, we thought the first question was the same as the second.
Though we may have had a healthy dose of self esteem, we were unconsciously consumed with how others would perceive us. Somewhere down the line, we had stopped doing things for ourselves and started to do things for others. We thrived on external validation and came to see it as our own achievements. It wasn't until many years later when we found ourselves “living the dream” on the outside that we realized we were experiencing it differently on the inside.
It took quieting down our negative reel, checking in with our ego, and finding our why to admit that we weren’t enjoying the lives we were working so hard to create. That gave us the incentive to pause, shift our perspectives, and stop living on autopilot. We were now ready to take our first steps towards the change we wanted to see... and it was terrifying because it wasn’t something we had done before.
It was terrifying to ask ourselves what we needed without anyone else’s input. And it was disappointing to realize that we didn’t know how to answer that question at first.
How had we come so far and yet become so detached from ourselves? We had curated our lives to meet the expectations of our parents, our community, and our culture only to realize at some point that we had achieved someone else’s definition of success. We had forgotten about ourselves along the way. We felt unfulfilled, out of control, and confused because we didn’t trust ourselves anymore. When we asked ourselves what we needed and wanted in our lives, our whispers of intuition and guidance were frequently drowned out by the noise of external expectations.
It didn’t come easy and change didn’t happen overnight, but we are now able to answer the question of what we need… most of the time. Our first steps were to rediscover ourselves, get back in touch with our likes and dislikes, remind ourselves of our passions, and embrace our natural talents. We had to invest time, money, and energy into ourselves to prove that we were worth it.
Though we didn't know at the time and couldn’t see the full staircase, we took those small, terrifying first steps in faith. It brought up uncomfortable emotions, annoyances, and setbacks but we know it was worth the climb even though we didn’t know exactly where it would take us.
Looking back now, we are grateful for the investment it took to rediscover who we really are. We continue step by step into the fear of the unknown because we recognize now what we’re doing for us and what we’re doing for others. We have the privilege to reach our hand back and invite you to come along with us and keep climbing.
Is there something in your life that you deeply desire to change but are fearful to take steps in that direction? Drop a comment below or contact us with your story so we can help you clear the way, get reconnected with yourself, and support your first steps. YOU can do this too.
Ming-Wai + Ming-Cee