I’m Not Surviving Anymore, I’m Living

(Photo above courtesy of Erika Marcano)

Erika Marcano learns that believing in herself is the key to changing her life.

Even though I had a painful childhood, I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me. The last thing I wanted to hear was, Poor girl, it’s really sad what she’s gone through.

I thought that if I worked hard and excelled, I would prove I’m no different and no one would need to feel sorry for me. This type of thinking led me to work twice as hard as anyone else, and I was accepted to a private university in Venezuela.

But I soon realized that everything I was doing wasn’t for me, but to show everyone else that I was fine. No, better than fine, that I was no different than anyone else. It became exhausting always obsessing over what others thought of me. Every day felt like survival. But I kept going and, in 2015, I moved to Miami to pursue my passion: journalism.

Polaroid of Erika Marcano with her sister and mom at the beach in Venezuela

Photo Courtesy of Erika Marcano

My sister, who had moved here before me, noticed I was struggling and suggested I attend a neighborhood Buddhist meeting with her. I didn’t know much about Buddhism but when I walked in the room and heard the powerful sound of everyone chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together, I couldn’t believe it. I sat down quietly and just listened.

My English wasn’t particularly good, so I didn’t say anything, but the meeting left a powerful impression on me. Since I’m a journalist, I wasn’t going to take what they said at face value, and I also don’t like to waste my time. So, I immediately started researching who Daisaku Ikeda was and what the SGI-USA movement was all about.

The more I learned about it, the more intrigued I became at the concept of believing in myself being the key to changing my life. As I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo regularly, I saw that my need to prove myself so unequivocally came from my self-doubt.

But this time I chose to believe in myself.

I had always dreamed of working for the Spanish-language TV networks Telemundo or Univision but never had the confidence that it could become a reality. The list of reasons why it would never happen was long, but this time I chose to believe in myself and chanted for my dreams. A friend who knew about my goal reached out about an opening at Univision. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately applied and, after a successful interview, they offered me a two-month project.

However, I would still need to look for work and chanted each day to somehow continue in my dream field. A co-worker then offered to show my resume to Telemundo and, after a round of interviews, they hired me!

This past November as my Telemundo contract was ending, I decided that rather than being anxious and uncertain, I would make a determination to use this situation to show to myself the power of my life. Despite the pandemic, they decided to renew my contract for another year!

By taking responsibility for my life, I found the courage to go after what I really wanted. It’s scary to realize that my future is in my hands, but more than that, I feel liberated. I’m not surviving anymore, I’m living.

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