Step by step. Slowly. Evermore slowly. Time and again. Step by step. Stopping to catch my breath for a moment, time after time. I looked up. There She was! And saw Her.
Tired? I was limp with exhaustion but fueled by excitement. Awe. Wonder. Inspiration. Here I was in the New World. I had come from the Other Side of The Globe!
The Statue of Liberty. The New World's welcoming committee of one was at the ready when I, yet another among the tens of millions before me, was prepared for my new life and unlimited opportunity.
As a student from Thailand, I arrived in New York, United States of America. Alone. All alone. By myself.
My dream had come true! Standing before me was the magnificent Statue of Liberty, Symbolic of Freedom. This journey is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. At 19 years old, unprepared for the new horizons ahead of me, standing in front of the Statue and watching her kind face made me smile. I could think only of the new possibilities and had no idea how long I stood there, unaware that tears were streaming down my face. Tears of joy, to be sure. I stood there watching boats, people, and their pets, enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City, and marveling at the wonder of it all. I wanted to scream and yell at the top of my voice. Instead, I let my heart sing. What a day!
Once my excitement waned as the days passed. I felt "let down" and lonely. Soon I became homesick. What might as well have been half a million miles away, my family was indeed half a world away. Not a word of how frightened, wary, and miserable I was in this exciting New World. Not a word of how I longed to return home.
I learned later that nothing could have prepared me for the new life I had long yearned to have. It was a childhood dream since I was nine years old to go to America. As I got older, I had learned so much about the vast horizon that guarantees nothing.
Whenever my sadness overwhelmed me, I would think about giving up, packing my bag, heading for the airport, and flying home. In my heart, I knew I couldn't fail. I couldn't disappoint my family. I would finish my degree, find a good job to support myself, and someday help my family members come to share the wonderful life I had in this country.
Adjusting to college life was a challenge. I was afraid of speaking English incorrectly. My pronunciations were not always clear or correct. I learned to write my words down on paper before speaking in front of a group of people. I read everything from cereal boxes to newspapers. I would spend hours writing and working on my school assignments. There seemed to be little or no time for socializing.
Fast forward. I graduated and got my first job, working in one of the Fortune 100 companies. My work world was new, challenging, and exciting. I had to learn another culture, the "corporate culture." Over time I felt unfulfilled as the routine became stale, and I was bored with my work. I needed to explore new avenues to stimulate my enthusiasm.
During my professional career in manufacturing, I had developed a wide range of skills. I launched my consulting business working for my previous employers initially and went on to find new clients in the Pacific Northwest and Silicon Valley, CA. In time, I moved to Seattle, WA, and "found my niche" in project management.
On the surface, it appeared as though I had it made: a booming business, a successful career, personal freedom—an entrepreneur's dream. Not satisfied, I wanted more and needed change. I found a partner, and we bought a young company I had consulted for and helped grow. The new venture didn't get a chance to get off the ground during the dot com collapse. I failed. I failed again in the following two businesses I started. I asked myself, "what went wrong, and how could I ever have enough courage to do it again?" I felt so "lost." I turned to my best friend, and he reminded me of these words.
"Life's difficulties is a test of how much we can endure. Find inner strength, courage and hope to overcome the test of life." – Lailah Gifty Akita, Author & Founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation
After failed attempts in new businesses, I have become more determined than ever before. I began to rely on my intuition and draw conclusions based on my failures, experiences, and gut feelings.
What I have learned, when I am uncomfortable and facing what seems to be impossible tasks at hand, I have three choices to make. "Give up, Give in, or Give it all I've got!"
I am giving it all I've got!
"It always seems impossible until it is done." – Nelson Mandela.