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Turning Your Passion Project into a Reality

Edited by Lina Maragha

The quarantine has made us revisit passions we were once committed to. However, the journey to turning your passion project into a reality can be challenging, especially when you’re navigating through a time of boundaries and distancing. As a creative, I found myself stuck in one place (both figuratively and literally), not fully knowing how to start projects I’ve been meaning to pursue. I remember spending months in a creative limbo of monotonous routines -- the days went by quickly while my hands typed away without the vigour it once had. Then, everything changed when I attended a series of online kwentuhans with the social enterprise Cambio & Co. 

*kwentuhan is a Filipino word that means ‘storytelling’ or to 'share stories'. 

In one of the kwentuhans, Cambio & Co. 's co-founder Gelaine’s words stayed with me for a long time. She said that “it's only a failure when you choose to give up”. She adds later on, after the kwentuhan, "...and when you don't learn anything from it". Hearing these words during the height of my creative rut felt like finding something I’ve lost for a long time; like finding your missing earring from years ago in your coat pocket one random morning. I remember the weeks after, where I immersed myself in brainstorming sessions, advertised my project on social media, and worked on the website for days. There were a lot of bumps along the way -- moments of self-doubt and worry creeped through my relaxing nights where I would be jolted towards my computer and start working until the wee hours of the morning. However, the enjoyable process itself and the reason why I was doing it in the first place outweighed all of those negative emotions. 

The project I was working on is an online zine called Sa Pagitan which aims to create a space of creativity and healing for Filipino/a/xs around the world where they can share their poetry, prose, and art. A project that was instigated by a decolonial project for a Women and Gender Studies course at UofT, Sa Pagitan is a bridge for those who wish to explore their identities through their craft. As a storyteller and an advocate of uplifting underrepresented voices, I knew that this project was going to be my gift to the Filipino community -- a community I owe a lot of my strength, my empowerment, and my resilience to. 

The journey of your passion project may be tough, but the outcome is fulfilling. Here are some ways you can take to turn your passion into a reality. Whether you’re starting it, continuing one you’ve already worked on, or regaining strength from an unsuccessful first run, I hope these pieces of advice will serve beneficial in whatever stage of the project you’re at. 

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1. Have a flexible plan

Being flexible especially during these unprecedented times is vital in pursuing a project, regardless big or small. By flexible, I mean having your main gameplan set in motion while having plan B, C, and D. It allows you wiggle room for unforeseen events beyond your control. 

I started the online zine as early as January with no knowledge that a few months after that, school would shift online, gatherings would be restricted, and going out in public spaces would be discouraged. The project felt emotionally exhausting with all the new changes. It felt like my creativity, with all the boundaries in place, felt restricted too. With an initial plan of publishing a physical version of the zine, I had to do plan B, which was to put the work on a website. What initially felt like a bad plan turned out to become a positive one -- because everything was going to be digital, I was able to encompass a larger audience and call writers and artists from all over the world to become part of this project. At the same time, the online zine would become more accessible. 

Let’s say your plans do not succeed and you end up restarting or changing your strategy. Don’t beat yourself up for it. You can always try again. 

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2. Recognize that there will be hard days and you’ll learn a lot from them 

When starting a project that you’re emotionally invested in, we build a lot of expectations around it. When those expectations are not met during the process, we feel like a failure. We start doubting if it was the right choice to start it in the first place. We start thinking: After all those days or hard work, this happens. All that time I used working on this project was wasted. Let go of any high expectations you have of the project. When the outcome is negative, recognize it happened, understand how it happened and what you could have done differently, and move on to the next stage. You’re allowed to feel sad about it but don’t ruminate on it for too long. 

When I started this project, I wanted to do a lot of things -- publish a physical copy, host a poetry night, and celebrate with the writers who made my vision a reality. My plans were so idealistic to the point that when the quarantine hit, I felt very unmotivated by the new changes that I had to make. As I slowly let go of what happened, I realized that I needed to change my work ethic and be more flexible of new changes (which is exactly why flexibility is the first idea in this article). I also learned to work with what I currently have and see their advantages. Rather than complaining about having no web design background (which I had to have in order to create the online zine), I learned independently through online websites like Linkedin Learning and Skillshare. 

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3. Immerse yourself in other creative work 

Balance is key. While you spend restless nights working on your passions, you also need to have breaks from it. By staying away from your work and revisiting it later on, you’ll have a fresh perspective of it that you may not have had from the start. And who knows, you just might find inspiration!

This is where finding a community to lean on or seek inspiration from plays a key role. Because of the new online set up, I attended online community conferences  where I was surrounded by inspirational organizations like Cambio & Co., PinayCollection, and Anakbayan Toronto to name a few. Their empowering work and vision fueled me with passion during days when I felt lost. Whether you’ve successfully started your project or you’re regaining your strength from an unsuccessful run, finding a community of like-minded people can give you the inspiration that you’ve been looking for. 

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4. Don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way of your passion project

Even until now, I often think to myself: Do I deserve to create this project? Am I worthy enough to take on such a big responsibility? But then I realized that even the most successful people are still learning and honing their craft. No one is fully perfect in what they do. We’re all constantly learning from our experiences and from one another. It doesn’t mean your skills are not enough or that you don’t deserve to do it. It means that you recognize that you are courageous enough to admit that you’re still learning the ropes. And there’s nothing embarrassing about that at all. 

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5. Enjoy the process

While you’re working hard to turn your vision into a reality, meeting deadlines, and spending hours of planning, don’t forget to enjoy the process. After all, this is your passion project -- a project that you started because you believe in it. And that alone is enough for you to be happy about. Enjoy the good and bad parts equally. Love the process and everything that you’re hoping will follow. 



Isabela Quito Villanoy is a University of Toronto alumni who double majored in English Literature, and Book & Media studies, and minored in Women and Gender Studies. She is also the founder of an online community Instagram page called Ihayag, a community that aims to reveal and proclaim the stories of Filipino/a/x immigrants and diasporic identities, where she shares her Filipino pride. While being both a writer for Her Campus U Toronto and an Editor at the MNERVA Literary Journal, Isabela dabbles in various creative passions related to reading, drawing, music, and photography. She is currently working with various Filipino writers all over the world for an online zine called Sa Pagitan / Liminal which deals with the in-betweenness of identities. She is currently leading a small team of writers in preparation for the first self-titled issue coming out soon.
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