I’ve been going over what I should write for my first blog post for about three weeks now. Now I realize it is a much more difficult task than I’ve ever anticipated. Nonetheless, I’ve finally decided, and here it goes. This is a story of me, of how I came to where I am now.

As some of you know, my career did not start in the realm of nonprofit. It was actually VERY profit oriented. I spent two years in an investment bank doing industry and company research. In the beginning of my career, as a recent graduate, I was very motivated to become what everyone expected of me – A successful business woman, an analyst. The concept was implanted in my mind that I didn’t even realize the industry wasn’t meant for me. It took me almost two years to swim up to the surface and get a glimpse of reality that I did not fit with the people that I was working with. I mean, we would talk and bond and work together, but our goals and ideologies would be very different.

The first time I realized this fact, I was afraid. I was afraid for myself for being so unsure of what comes next. But mostly, I think I was afraid for letting my parents down – after all, they did not raise me to be a quitter. Thankfully, at the end of the day, my parents respected my decision and supported me in every single way possible.

When the word got out that I would be leaving my job, there were a lot of people who tried to talk me out of it. Some even offered me a different job (it was even a better position and I got to get a raise), but it meant nothing. I had no motivation. Thus, in the end, I’ve decided to follow my heart and take the leap.

After leaving the job, I was wandering here and there, trying to figure out how I can relate my skills to the nonprofit and contribute myself to international development. It was right about that time that I was introduced the Atlas Corps Fellowship Program. For me, it was a golden ticket to get into the world where I wanted to belong. It was a fresh start. It was opportunity. It was a chance to buy me some time to adjust, and learn about the nonprofit world.

But here’s a secret – I applied to the program because I had the qualifications, but honestly, I did not expect myself to get in. When I looked at all the fellow profiles, I thought I had no chance. There were just too many interesting people who are way more motivated and experienced than I am. (Though, now I realize that I must have been as much interesting)

The whole process was really nerve racking too. I had been jumpy for five and a half months, and I wasn’t able to talk to anyone because I wanted to announce the final result as a surprise. On top of that, I had my own problems with the US Customs and Border Services, so it was just a pile of uncertainty. (You really have no idea how nervous I was when I was going through immigration.) Anyways, I am now here, as a fellow, in the capital of the Unites States, writing my first blog post. How exciting is that?!

Since I have been here, I have met so many interesting and inspiring people. To be frank, I have never felt so comfortable. Each person had different issues to focus on; however, we all aimed for the same goal – making the world a better place. It’s nice to talk to people who understand what I am trying to do with my life – not in their heads, but in their hearts. And considering this is only my fourth week, I cannot imagine how many more inspiring people I get to meet and talk to.

I now have a whole year ahead (unless I decide to extend), and I know that is not a long time. I know for a fact that it is going to fly by. But I am ready to charge in and take whatever comes at me. It’s going to be crazy and yet an exciting year, and I plan to make the most of it. I hope my fellow Fellows, especially class 14, could do the same. After all, you only live once.

Cheers Class 14!