Of course, we all have those negative thoughts sometimes. Whenever I feel that way, I think of this quote, which I heard in the movie “Kung Fu Panda.”
“Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
But today is a gift.
That is why it is called the present.”
It doesn’t matter what you were in the past and how unclear the future seems. If you work toward your dream today, you can become anything you want.
Kung Fu Panda is a movie about a panda who dreams of becoming a kung fu master. No one thinks it is possible, because he is fat and clumsy. But he somehow endures training with the help of his mentor. When an enemy comes to his town, he seizes the moment and saves his town.
He is still the same fat panda, but he is now a unique kung fu master and a hero. More importantly, he finds himself.
This is not only a fiction. It could happen to anyone. In fact, I have my own story, and I would like to share it with you.
When I was in high school in Japan, I enjoyed writing and drawing for a school paper. I thought I wanted do them for a living someday. One day, I decided to study journalism at a college in the United States while learning English at the same time.
No one thought that was a good idea, because I was not (and still am not) a native speaker of English. But next thing I remember is I got accepted to a journalism school in the United States.
It was hard from the day One. Everyone else was a native speaker, and I was often expected to correct their writing. I thought it was impossible. I asked the teacher for a special consideration, but he said: “No one asked you to be in this school. Leave any time you want.” I studied hard, but my final grade was C-. I continued to get Cs and C-s for the next few semesters.
In my senior year, things changed. I learned about a specialty within journalism called “news artist.” A news artist is a combination of reporter and artist. Their job is to report news through illustrations and writing. It sounded exactly what I wanted to do since high school.
I enrolled in a class on news art, taught by a teacher named James. He was mean. He said I was annoying, because I always had too many questions. I ignored what he said, because I was too into learning.
I just revised my stuff day and night and went to talk to him for his feedback. In addition, I worked for three school publications to gain more experience. I only slept three hours each night. My roommate at that time still talks about how I often slept with a pen and paper in my hands.
James's words continued to be sharp, but I slowly found he actually cared about me. Before I realized it, he became my mentor. Because of his help, I won third place at an international college newspaper contest. He also helped me get a job as a news artist at a Pulitzer-winning newspaper. The newspaper sponsored my working visa.
Today, I am no longer doing the job, although I am proud of myself to be still involved in "word" business. (My dream as of today is to publish a book and give speeches about communication and motivations.) Through my experience of pursuing my dream in journalism, I learned that no matter how hard circumstances might seem, you can do whatever you set your mind to.
Just don’t let others define you. Define yourself!
Everyone who’s reading this blog could be a panda in some sense. You might think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your dream. Maybe your past, which is history, is holding you back. You might be afraid of taking a risk, because future is a mystery. But if you lose yourself in the moment, you will be step closer to your dream every single day.
Remember today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.