Above is the Chinese word for crisis. The first character, 危 or wei, means “dangerous.” The second, 機 or ji, means “opportunity.” Put those two words together and you have crisis.

I learned this word while I was living in Beijing last year. It was risky moving to Beijing to work in an all-Chinese office using my second language, taking on a completely new role, while in the middle of a serious relationship, and with zero friends or network there to support me. When my health failed, my long-distance relationship wavered, and the program that sent me was dissolved, I arrived at a crisis. 

If you look at the Chinese character for “crisis,” there’s two ways of thinking about interpreting it. One, a crisis is something dangerous, to be feared, and to run away from. Two, a crisis is an opportunity to embrace. In reality though, a crisis is usually a bit of both.

The crisis I faced in Beijing led to some incredible things in my life. Because of it, I ended up moving to a new part of the business I probably wouldn’t otherwise have moved to (shout out to all my friends in SB!). My relationship (with my now husband) became deeper. I grew on a personal level in so many ways. My time in Beijing was a time you could not pay me to relive. It’s also a time I wouldn’t trade for the world.

2020 is another one of those years. A crisis year.

So, I’ve started searching for the opportunities. I started thinking about the possibility of using this year to step back from the frantic pace of life and pursue my dream of writing full time. The possibility of this new life is terrifying but I once heard someone say:

“Do what scares you most.”

I agree. If what you’re chasing after doesn’t scare you, you’re not reaching high enough.

Seeing a crisis as an opportunity involves a great deal of risk. It’s a scary thing. If I avoided the things that scared me, I never would have gone to graduate school, taken half the roles I did at Dell, moved overseas, dated, gotten married, learned Krav Maga, and done many other things that ended up being some of the best experiences of my life.

Quitting a great corporate job, with a steady paycheck, in the middle of a pandemic when people are losing their jobs is a scary thing.

It’s also an opportunity.

It’s all a matter of how you look at the crisis. For me, I’d rather give my dream everything I have and fall flat on my face than walk through life with a constant “what if?” in the back of my mind.

We all face a crisis in life. The question is, will we let the fear of danger cow us into taking the path of least resistance? Or will we be true to ourselves, take calculated risks, and pursue the things we know we were made for?

For me, I’m choosing the latter.

In this time when many are in a crisis, I encourage you to think of this:

“What are you afraid of?”

Candace, signing off to start day one of her writing career.

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