Monday, May 7, 2012

If You Knew You Could Not Fail, What Would You Do?



"What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?" ~ Robert Schuller

I have always loved this quote because it stirs the dreamer within me (admittedly that's not a difficult thing to do). We've all had a dream profession...something we began thinking of in childhood or adolescence. Slowly, over time and into young adulthood, many of us begin to see our dream as unattainable. Was it truly unattainable or did we just begin to view it as urealistic? Don't get me wrong, not everyone lets go of their dream. But somewhere along the way, a lot of us do. From the time I was a child, my dream was to work with endangered wildlife. I even had it narrowed down to four specific areas haha!!

  • Working with endangered wildlife in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil
  • Studying the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef off the Northeast coast of Australia
  • Working with the endangered wildlife of the Serengeti National Park in Africa
  • Or working with the Mountain Gorilla population in the Virunga Mountains of Uganda
My high school Guidance Counselor sort of dismissed these dreams of mine as impractical. I can vividly remember him saying "It's not like these jobs are plentiful...you're not going to see an advertisement in the help wanted ads for this kind of work". I let that conversation influence me more than I should have. Somewhere along the way, I began to develop an interest in sociology and psychology. I began to gravitate more towards those fields, as part of me thought they were more practical for me (in no small part due to the advice of my Guidance Counselor). My interest in psychology did lead me to my current job (which I love by the way), but every once in a while I harken back to my childhood dreams. I'll always have a passion for animals and for preservation. Some dreams never die :-)

What was your childhood dream? Did you or are you currently pursuing it?   

60 comments:

  1. As a kid I dreamed of being a Marine Biologist, but the realities of having to pass all those science classes quickly kaboshed that in high school, which is when I too had to move onto more "practical" pursuits. I'm not sure if I actually chose one though, as being a chef is hardly stable or traditional work, but being tied to a desk from 9-5 was never in the cards for me. So practical or not, even if I wasn't guaranteed that I wouldn't fail, I would still turn my greatest passion into a way of life and become a chef.

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    1. Being a Marine Biologist used to be a dream of mine as well! I wanted to explore the coral reefs.

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  2. Ha! Your counsellor sounds like my mum! I dreamt so many professions… each one spoken aloud was laughed at… I guess mine were bit over optimistic for ‘farmers daughter’, but I do believe if I were supported and encouraged I could have become one of these… Cardiologist (someone who understand the mechanics of human heart and can help those with its defects), Criminal Pathologist (just to be able to understand the human body and then to work the way back to understand what went wrong) and later on I guess a bit more realistic one – Journalist (well, bit of writing and reporting there and there – what’s not to love?)

    And now, I’m neither of those… except maybe my own leisure travelling and blog reporting there and there…

    As for you – would you have considered leaving your current profession and life behind today and go volunteering in Brazil, Australia, Africa or Uganda now? Some dreams are worth pursuing, you know? :) (I am a dreamer, you can tell, I often dream about leaving the rat race behind and going away, volunteering, working with children and people that needed it)

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    1. I think being a criminal pathologist would be a fascinating career! To answer your question, yes...I think about it every day :-)

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  3. Your guidance councellor was letting their own fears attach to your dreams. When we hear others excitement of wanting to do MORE we squash it, thinking that it's not possible. It's not possible to the non-dreamer, but it is for the dreamer. Dream on!!

    I had wanted to be a journalist and travel the world sharing stories, but my social teacher told me I am just not a very good writer. I let my dreams fall after that comment.

    And by the way you should read Jane Goodall's book "Reason for Hope". Goosebumps. You'll love it

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    1. It's funny you mention Jane Goodall...I read a book of hers as an adolescent and it's one of the first books that sparked my interest in endangered animals!

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  4. I'll answer the question with a question -- If I knew I couldn't fail, what wouldn't I do? The opportunities then become endless. I feel like if we somehow managed to just convince ourselves of that, then we might be able to proceed through life with much more ferocity.

    I can't say that architecture was a childhood dream, but looking back it makes total sense. Everything I did was involved in design and building -- Legos, Duplos, Erector sets, pipeworks, K'nex, Linkin Logs, model train towns, models in general... amazing how that just worked itself out. I never even thought of it 'til I got to college.

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    1. Some dreams are indeed discovered later and in college, as it sounds like yours was.

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  5. My childhood dream was to be a writer. I have carried that dream with me for most of my life.

    When I was quite young, my mother suggested that I might want to be a journalist, which she had to define for me because I had never heard the word at that point. She thought it was a practical way to make a living as a writer.

    I have done some many other things during my life. Almost 3 years ago, I got my current job as a staff writer for a weekly newspaper. My first job as a journalist! It's my dream job if I have to have a job. By that, I mean that I would rather be doing my "own" writing. Blogging has gotten me back into that.

    So if I knew I wouldn't fail, I'd become a full-time writer and (freelance) editor.

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    1. Tina I think you would make a wonderful full-time writer :-)

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  6. I followed my childhood dream, and live it. It's had different professional incarnations, but it's all been the same. I love what I do (and have done) as a professional. I feel privileged helping others become the person THEY want to be.

    I love the flexibility of being my own boss, making my own schedule, and the autonomy that my career provides. I'm also thankful that my job provides venues that allows me to work with public, working with audiences, talking about subjects I love. I wouldn't trade my career for any other.

    My work allows me to use skills I have and explore things I love. You can't beat that. I've had to modify my work because of challenges encountered. But, that was okay---life's detours took me to wonderful vistas I would have never known otherwise, and I'm a better person for it.

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    1. Pablo you are a truly fortunate person to be able to be living your childhood dream. That's an inspiration to us all!

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  7. This makes me kind of sad! There is a lot of things I would do if I knew I wouldn't fail..
    -Act
    -Opera singer
    -Read my poetry out loud
    I'm sure there's more but as of now that's all I can think of

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    1. You should go to a poetry reading and read some of it out loud :-)

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  8. To travel and be a writer ... and yes, I'm grateful to say, I am pursuing it.

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  9. man, that is such a good question! i've never even thought about it before. and now i'll be stewing over it all day!

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  10. I always wanted to design houses and home. I used to draw pictures of these all the time as a child. However, one day, when I showed these pictures to my father, he said, "Well, that's a complete waste of paper." After that, I let go of that dream completely. I think when I got older, I attempted to try this again, but was shot-down, so I let that dream die.

    Now, I have a "new dream," to be a writer/poetess, but that's very impractical, as my writings are not very good, ha, ha! :)

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  11. Yep, I'm living my childhood dream!! funny how those passions start at a young age. Funny thing is I didn't really pursue my career until I was 28 years old. Ironically I decided to make to make it a go once I had a dream that I would completely suck at it! haha!

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  12. Funny, when I was a child, I wanted to be a vet. I have always loved animals. But I adopted pets instead over the years, both dogs and cats. Currently, we are petless but are looking to adopt a puppy in the near future. :) I never became a vet or a doctor, but I'm a medical editor in the publishing field, so I can say I'm still contributing to medicine in my career :)

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    1. Sounds as if you are doing quite wonderful my friend :-)

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  13. I wanted to be an actress. I can still picture myself in a great dress saying, "I'd like to thank the academy." I was in every play in high school, have directed plays for many years and have been in numerous local commercials. All practical ways of living the dream. Never saw myself as a starving artist. I wanted a family too bad.

    My list is so long: publish my children's book, get paid to throw parties and make cakes, start a business. My problem is that there are so many things I like.

    I have done some things I never thought possible like run a half marathon and go sky diving so I am confident I can cross some more off my list.

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    1. You absolutely can!! There's no such thing as too many dreams, in my opinion :-)

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  14. I love this question, this challenge...
    Though I'd like to think I'm doing, just those things.
    Only, I think it's a braver step of faith to do what you would do if you could not fail, knowing that you may - but doing it anyway.
    That's me. I've always loved the following from Mrs. Roosevelt!

    “You must do the thing you think you cannot do”.
    ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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    1. I think the Elanor Roosevelt quote is perfect for this exercise!

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  15. Sounds like you really like animals. haha!
    I would write (duh) and be a fitness instructor or nutritionist.

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  16. I know this is more of a serious question, but the spin I take, would be that I would want to fly. If I knew I couldn't fail, I'd jump off a high point and do it.
    Totally illogical though, and I know you mean more career-oriented or hobby pursuits.

    I always wanted to go up into outerspace be an astronaut. I'm still fascinated by the stars as I was when I was younger, but I feel as though since I wasn't top tier in such, I didn't spend every spare moment seeking after it, that I wouldn't ever achieve that.

    And so my dreams shifted. They still seem like lofty goals, to travel to Africa, provide clean water, at first with an organization and then starting to lead groups myself with other different facets to help out the people with.. It's a bit daunting, but I think there is fun in the challenge. God wouldn't place anything in front of me that I couldn't handle when I call on Him and give glory to Him. For I honestly don't have a lot of faith in myself, but in Him, I do. I think that is what faith is. (Sorry for my spiritual tangent)

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    1. I hope that all of your dreams come true my friend.

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  17. Who was it that said that failure is nothing more than the opportunity to start again, only this time with a greater understanding.
    yes, we must dream.
    My dreams when I was a child were to play for Tottenham Hotspur, ride in the Tour de France and visit Machu Piccu. At my age, one of those is still a possibility.

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    1. Well here's to hoping that you are able to visit Machu Piccu someday sir!

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  18. I had a very similar experience with my high school guidance counsellor. I wanted to pursue acting, and I wanted to go out of state (as far away as possible!) to big, exciting places to study and fulfill my dream. Thankfully, I didn't listen to her. And even more gratefully, my lovely parents supported my decision to attend performing arts college. I have a BA in Theatre Arts - but I never did have enough confidence to truly step out and try to make a living from performing.
    I have made bits of money here and there with my performing - a paid play once, a stint working as a ballroom dance teacher, and a brief career as a high school Drama/Dance teacher. I haven't let go of the ultimate dream yet. But, it has sadly faded as life goes on, and I am STILL, at age 32, worried about failing.
    :/

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    1. Well it's certainly not even close to too late...never give up on that dream :-)

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  19. When I was a teenager one of my dreams was to write a book that would be turned into a movie on the big screen. I would dream of stories and at the end of my dream it would say "the end"....and I would wake up. I have been writing a lot in my adulthood, but it has mainly been poems and essays. Love this post...thank you for inspiring us to reach for our dreams! :-)

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    1. Sounds like a beautiful dream Carrie and I hope it comes true for you :-)

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  20. Hi, thanks for leaving the comment on the blog! Yep, it is a small world, I haven't met anyone local who is in the industry that blogs as well. So it really is quite fun!

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  21. This is such a great post Keith, I really enjoyed it. It made me question myself more than anything, and showed me how scared I am of failing/rejection. :)

    It's sad that we are easily swayed when we are younger, I remember having a similar talk with a teacher who told me my dreams were unrealistic. I think we should be supported in what we want to do, and rather than being told it is impossible, encouraged to follow our dreams and to have back ups in more realistic things. I think a lot of people lose themselves in the education system sometimes, we should all be allowed to dream big! :)

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    1. Thank you Hannah and you are absolutely right - we should all be allowed to dream big :-) after all, what are we without our dreams!?

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  22. My childhood dream has always been to be a dancer. Ever since I began I have always loved it. I am still currently pursuing my dream and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. Many have also told me I am foolish but I won't let my dream die. Because it is still my dream, and always will be. Thank you for your continued insight into life. I enjoyed this post greatly.

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    1. I'm glad that you're still pursuing it...never let anyone talk you out of it!!

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  23. I had quite a few! I wanted to be an opera singer (gave up that dream), an astronaut (gave up that one too) and an Olympic gold medalist in either figure skating or gymnastics (I figured that would be difficult to do without any training). I've also dreamt of being a writer for quite some time and, of course, that one I'm pursuing.

    I can't believe that your guidance counselor dashed your dreams so much! I went to a school where the staff nurtured our dreams. I've seen some of my high school teachers since and they always ask me if I'm still writing.

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    1. I don't think he intentionally dashed them...he was just overly pragmatic really. I hope you continue to pursue your dream of being a writer!

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  24. Thanks for writing such a thought provoking post. For so many of us, I think that at some point along the way we get so lost in the rush of life that those dreams just get sort of tossed along the wayside, and our dreams and aspirations are something we should never forget. Sometimes it's pursuing those dreams, or some form of them, that makes us happy and the beginning of a new day something to look forward to:)

    When I was really young I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, as I was completely fascinated with what seemed to be a whole other world teeming with life so strange and beautiful, and to explore the areas of ocean that we've never seen seemed like a lifetime of adventure:)

    As I got older I began to feel a pull towards the arts. At first I wanted to be a musician and started learning to play guitar. I picked up on it quickly and flew ahead of the rest of my class, but for some reason abruptly lost interest. I drew, painted, and sculpted, but went through some things in my childhood and was at one point medicated by a crooked doctor that actually told my parents to buy me cigarettes. The side effects included moderate to severe tics and my hands began to shake too much for me to do any of those things anymore. Thankfully we moved a couple of years later and my parents found me a new doctor that offered counseling instead of drugs, so I got better, but after that I just never tried it again, and began to write instead. I had a teacher in high school that sent some of my poetry off to a publishing company and they actually wanted to publish my work, but I (very foolishly) turned it down as to me my poetry was like my diary, and I was a bit of the private type.

    After that I became pregnant with my first child and turned my attention to being a parent, and just did what I had to do to survive financially.

    Years later, I finally decided to get my first DSLR camera to try out a lifelong interest in photography. I am still towards the beginning of that journey, but I think that I'm progressing well and am curious as to what my work could evolve into as my skill level increases and I am exposed to new subject matter and styles. A part of me is even considering going to school for it, or at least taking some classes to help me along the way. Although I don't know that realistically it's something I could quit my job to do full-time, it would be awesome to get to a point where I could travel to places sometimes just to see and photograph, and do think that maybe I can get to a point where I could sell prints on the side. It's such a huge relief to me to finally be getting to a point where I can actually show the world the way I've always seen things in my head, and it's an amazing thing to me. So for me, to finally get to where I'm good enough to express myself in some way and to have other people appreciate that as well is a lifelong dream, and maybe one that I can achieve. And if I would be able to sell some of my work on the side so I can take my family out to see new places and do more things... well, it doesn't get any better than that:)

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    1. I liked reading the progression of your different dreams. It seems that we all go through quite a nfew of them and then ultimately find our true passion, which it sounds like you have with photography. As you know, I'm a huge fan of your photography on your blog and I wish you well in pursuing this dream full-time!

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  25. Thank you for your lovely comment on my recent post. And so, I took a look at your blog.

    I am very annoyed with your Guidance Counsellor, partly because I believe that some of the people most responsible for distracting us from our dreams are those that had the responsibility in educating and encouraging us to reach above and beyond ourselves! Rant over.

    I work in education now too. Your post reminded me of myself as a child - my interests also lay in animals, wildlife, creation ... however, I turned my hand to the human mind/heart instead. I do think we all strive to fulfill those deepest dreams in some way, at some stage, because dreaming is actually longing and these are our deepest desires.

    Our deepest longings, the things we put our hearts on, we'll never fulfil them because what we are really looking for, in everything we do, is not in this world. In other words, a new job, a new relationship, a new country, it promises something it can never deliver. The thing we long for is immortal, eternal life. An image of cosmic nostalgia. In all of the music you go to, to give yourself a high, your actually really looking for a song that you remember but you've never heard. What you are looking for in love, are the arms that you never really remember, but the arms you've never had. Unless you really understand that, that what you are looking for in everything you are looking for, is eternal life, you are not going to be wise.

    Today I was listening to a talk on my ipod and the speaker quoted CS Lewis who said: " Most people if they really learn how to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, accutely, something that can not be had in this world. The longings that arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that at first excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning can really satisfy. There is always something, in those first stages of longing, that fades away in the reality. Our life long nostalgia, to be reunited with something in the universe that we were cut off from. "

    Thoughts?

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    1. What a beautiful comment Ali. Truly hearfelt and deep. I love the C.S. Lewis quote...I think it's very apropos for this post. I am inclined to agree with you...we are eternally longing for something more. However, I believe that eternal longing gives us purpose.

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    2. Hi Ali... wow - your last paragraph... it reminds me of the book I'm reading at the moment. It's called 'Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Hunger to Belong' by John O'Donohue. The book is so beautiful that I almost can't take it in... I could read it several times and each time get something new from it... and it's like a poetic exploration of what you have quoted in the last paragraph :)

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  26. Urgh. Your guidance counselor makes me angry. I'm just saying. If I ever have children of my own, I plan to make it an everyday thing to remind them that they can do anything they want, as long as they continue to possess the power to chase after it.

    I didn't really have that as a child. My family loved me, don't get me wrong, but no one ever made a habit out of telling me that I could do anything. Practicality! That's what I needed to follow.

    Now, I'm at a point where I have no idea what I want to do with my life. If I KNEW that I wouldn't fail and I would find happiness in my career, I would chase after my dreams of modeling/acting for a living. I've always dreamed of doing it (and not in the "Oh, I'm a fabulous supermodel/movie star!" sense) but, after years and years of being told that normal people can't do things like that, I've managed to give up on those dreams.

    I hope that you'll chase after yours. They seem very doable, if you ask me. All you have to do is believe in yourself and remember that the only person preventing you from going after what you want to do in life, is you. (Easier said than done, I know.)

    Great post, as usual!

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    1. Me too Alisha! I'm definitely going to make sure that if I ever have children that they never have their dreams stifled...I will encourage them to reach for the stars :-)

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  27. What a thought-provoking post :) I think a lot of people have a 'guidance counselor' in their life! Whether a real one... or a teacher... or a parent... When I tried to think of what my childhood dream was, the first thing that came to mind was being an actress. I studied drama for five years from the age of about ten or eleven I think. But I have no idea why - I was super-shy! I think I was just fascinated by the idea of imagining myself into another life, and people perceiving me in a totally different way to how I was. On thinking about it a bit more, the first thing I ever really loved doing (even before wanting to be an actress) - and I mean loved so much that time lost all relevance - was writing. I used to have a notebook that I carried around with my poems in it and I wrote my first 'story' on an old-fashioned typewriter at the age of seven. It was called 'The Sad Tiger' (short version - tiger loses his stripes, mouse finds them and brings them back to him as a birthday present, they all eat jelly and ice cream). I then tried to write a book about a young girl with hypnotic powers (still in primary school) but I got fed up after four chapters, and then not long after that, we did less and less 'Creative Writing' at school and more and more analysis, and so from about 1995 until 2007, I all but forgot the pleasure that words could bring (reading and writing). Thank goodness things changed - and I think I'm finally rediscovering and brushing my fingers against my dream :)

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    1. What a wonderful comment my friend. I hope you never lose sight of your dream of being a writer :-)

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  28. I have always wanted to work with animals, and I too was shot down from those dreams because the courses would be too hard or the job wouldn't pay enough. I am happy to have found my passion for writing though, which I have always had, so it might have worked out for the best, for both of us. I really enjoy reading your blog!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Samantha and for stopping by my blog :-)

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  29. I always wanted to be an author or an artist when I was super little... then in high school I wanted to be a pastor ha ha. Ironically enough since then I've written one novel (its unpublished.. the idea is someday when I'm retired I might come back to it and edit it etc) As for the pastor idea... well.. that kind of died with my angry atheist phase in college.. but I wouldn't be surprised if I felt that call again a few years later. However, one thing is clear.. I NEVER NEVER wanted to be a teacher like my mom, but that is now what I do want to be. ha ha. Life is funny.

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    1. Life is funny indeed haha! I often say that our passion finds "us", rather then US finding it...if that makes sense.

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  30. If I knew I would not fail, I would move to NY. Oh wait, I already have plans to move there at the beginning of next year. But if I knew I would not fail, I wouldn't be so nervous about it. lol

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    1. This is exciting! I wish you the best of luck on your move :-)

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