Obstacles have given me unique opportunities to transform my life in unexpected ways.
There’s too much voice out there that can comfort you when you face obstacles and failures. Blogs, social media, Instagram posts abound in discussions about failures. But majority of them just tell you that it’s okay. There’s the phrase “overcoming obstacles” but not “transforming obstacles.” There are so many people who can tell you that everything will be okay, but barely anyone tells you that you can turn these obstacles into opportunities and to your competitive advantages.
Personal experiences in my own life has taught me to turn obstacles into an inspiration to find meaningful goals in life.
I have faced two biggest transitions in my life — leaving my family at age of 12 to live independently and start a new life in the US with no clue about American culture and very little English and 10 years later, at the age of 22, leaving college to start an adult life.
I sensed fear, frustration, confusion, and extreme sadness in each of these transitions. I froze and felt stuck. In my own eyes at those times, the obstacles just seemed too daunting that I felt like it was impossible to get out. My thoughts were muddled and my emotions quickly spiraled down in a very negative direction, to what seemed like infinity. I felt anxious, numb, dumbfounded, and unclear. I didn’t know what to do.
10 years ago, language, cultural barriers, and distance from family made me feel so foreign, unbelonged, lonely, and confused about who I was and why I felt so displaced. At the age of 22, 10 years later, I felt the same emotions upon transitioning into adult life — being away from college, where I called home in the past 4 years, and having new responsibilities of finding my life mission and purpose. Every challenge just seemed so big, daunting, and out of my reach.
However, managing emotions and taking active, deliberate actions have enabled me to luckily uncover hidden blessing and opportunities within each obstacle and turn them into my competitive advantage.
My experience of migrating to the US at the age of 12 has taught me about the value of community, of kindness, of service, and of humility as I felt so touched and transformed by the help of teachers and friends around me at that time. This passion in service has fueled my involvement in various leadership projects and service-learning activities that later helped me get into Harvard, where I called home for the past 4 years. At the time of applying to college, I knew that my passion and involvement in service were my competitive advantage, and it only became an advantage after I faced the initial obstacle of having to adjust to a new life at a young age.
At the age of 22, I faced a new transition in life that I am still struggling to figure out — how to become an adult and how to independently guide my own life and fulfill it with purpose and meaning now that I’m no longer under the protection and comfort of academic institutions. It has been a difficult journey and I know it will continue to be. However, through this obstacle, while facing fear, anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty, I also discovered a new passion in writing, writing to share with others meaningful, transformative, and rich emotions, stories, and insights that I have experienced along the way to keep people feel accompanied and to take away something they can resonate with and apply it to their own lives, whenever they need it most.
There is a hidden blessing in any obstacle that we all face. It depends on our perceptions and how we choose to react to obstacles to realize this hidden blessing. We always have a choice, and that’s the most valuable asset we have in face of obstacles. We can thrive at every challenge. We have more agency than we think.
It’s so, so important to always remind ourselves of this, especially when we are in our lowest point and feel forever stuck in a spiral of emotions, negative thoughts, and state of hopelessness. We have the power to make a choice.
No matter what happens you always have a choice. A choice to think and perceive things differently, for a better outcome. We can derive new meaning and inspiration in face of obstacles and turn them into our own unique stories and advantages.
What choice will you make?