In 2001, a major event happened that triggered a series of changes and opportunities in my life. In September of 2001, on September 11, specifically, we all know what happened. I don’t want to diminish it by not digging into details, but I think it’s safe to say that we all experienced that day in one shape or form and we’ll all have a personal story to associate with it for the rest of our lives.
What happened to me was that I decided that life was too short not to follow my dreams, which at that time was to attend a vegetarian cooking school in NYC. You see, up until that point, I just assumed it wasn’t possible. It was out of reach because of money, because of derailing my career in tech, because of a million other excuses. But it was never impossible, it was completely within reach, and I got a loan and went.
After school ended I needed to find an internship to put my new culinary skills to the test. I knew I didn’t want to work in a restaurant and feel the stress of a tiny, busy kitchen, let alone an insane Manhattan kitchen. So instead I started googling “vegetarian vacations” because why not make this an opportunity to travel? I went down a few interesting paths in this search, but ultimately landed on a yoga retreat center on the Greek island of Crete run by folks from England. Perfect. Or so I thought.
I reached out to them via email and explained that I had just finished the Chef’s Training Program at an internationally known culinary school specializing in vegetarian cuisine and would they have any cooking opportunities that summer? As it turned out, they would. I was in communication with the manager of the retreat center, a Danish woman who spent the entire season (late spring to early fall) at the retreat center.
We set up a time to speak by phone, because this was of course before things like Skype and FaceTime existed. We discussed the position at length and it all sounded quite manageable. But I felt that familiar something in my gut. I was afraid. I had basically worked myself up to say no even before she called. So when it came time to wrap our conversation and provide an answer, I said, “No, but thank you anyway.” She was very understanding and wished me well and our call came to an end.
Immediately after hanging up the phone, I frantically wished that *69 (yes this was a while ago) would know how to call back someone in Denmark. Or that I had caller ID.
Instead I went to my computer and emailed her back. YES, YES, YES, I’ll do it!
And so commenced the summer of a lifetime. I mean, have you seen Crete?!?!
Moral of the story? Sometimes you have to say NO to know that you mean YES.
There are better methods out there, but hey, if this is the one that gets you there, use it.