For the longest time, it felt like I was waiting. Waiting for real life to begin. Once I got married, lost that extra pound, had the perfect job and lived in my dream neighborhood in the city, that was when my "real life" would begin. I have always felt that I was rushing to catch up with time, and I had this fear that I was constantly behind. As an immigrant I felt the looming pressure of having to catch up after spending many years reconstructing my life in a new country.
Being an immigrant brought a lot of solitude and anxiety to my life. I encountered multiple barriers that made it difficult for me to maintain a belief in myself, and my chance of making it here. I had to work hard to maintain the hope and enthusiasm to keep things moving forward so I can continue pursuing my goal of achieving success and happiness.
Years of my life were spent not living in the present and always running behind an imaginary goal, but with the finish line moving farther and farther away. Years went by and I found that although I had gotten married, moved to my dream neighborhood, and scratched many other items off my list, I was still somehow waiting to reach "that finish line." I kept wondering what was missing, and I kept longing for that moment when I would "start living my life."
At last it dawned on me that all the obstacles and items on my list were my life, and that life doesn't just stop so that we can enjoy it. All that happens is that the challenges vary with age in different stages of our lives, and I needed to learn how to make the best of the ups and downs.
I started to read more and more about the definition of success and while looking for answers I attended Arianna Huffington's "Thrive" event. During the conference I had the chance to hear from leaders in the fashion, health care, and technology industries speak about their own experiences, and the steps they've taken to live a more sustainable and fulfilling life while still making a positive impact in the world.
I also met multiple other women who were working hard to achieve a state of peaceful balance, success, and happiness. My big awakening began when I realized I was channeling my energies in the wrong direction. After that realization I decided to start concentrating my energy on self-improvement. I started to invest in myself by taking on more freelance projects outside of my full time job, taking classes to further my education, and dedicating more time to volunteer work in my community.
I gave priority to my sleep, and health and have felt an incredible change in my mood, energy levels, and motivation. I picked up my meditation practice and I am now able to reconnect with myself and recharge. I feel relieved that I now realize that all this time I have already been living my life and learning impactful lessons along the way. Now every day, I dedicate time to what I call "my moment of gracefulness," in which I do breathing exercises and concentrate on something I am grateful for to rejoice and recharge on positive energy.
In order to achieve happiness, it is crucial to be able to sustain the faith that along the way all the dots will connect somehow and if you work hard, take risks and never give up it will all work out.
There is no straight path to follow, and it seems as if the adventures of life are like the roots of a tree that expand and grow strong in many directions. I tended to over analyze and was too afraid to make mistakes. I am now learning to see failure as part of success and part of the learning process. It is impossible to succeed if I'm not willing to make mistakes.
I couldn't dedicate the time to learn, grow, and reinvent myself while working a high demanding full time job. I realized that I had to either work on my own to build my dreams or simply be on mute mode as an employee to help build somebody else's dream. So I resigned from my job at a great tech company and began consulting full time.
My parents I think were terrified because they come from an entirely different experience. Both of my parents are doctors and worked for the same hospitals for over 20 years. Some people told me they didn't understand and that I was crazy, other said I was just a dreamer and happiness at work did not exist, but I had a gut feeling that I had to follow.
In my life so far, it seems that the bigger and scarier the risks I take, the greater the growth and the reward. Sometimes staying in one workplace for a many years is "career suicide" because many companies don't provide the right environment for their employees to be challenged, and grow either new technical or soft skills. Not moving on and seeking new opportunities because you feel comfortable is the worst decision ever because you will never grow that way.
I could simply not bare the idea of working for something that I was not absolutely passionate about. I am now dedicated to teaching what I love at the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology and helping others learn and achieve their goals. I have taken on more a leadership role in my volunteer community, and I have also found that when I now interview with a prospective client I interview them as much they interview me because as much as they want to make sure that I can bring the expertise they need me to bring to the table, I also want to make sure that I fall in love with their vision and goals.
I want to make sure that I don't feel like I am working for someone, but with them instead. I now have the confidence to say no to clients that I don't consider to be a good match for me. I am no longer looking to get a job, I am now looking for a mission with which I can grow and help others grow.
So if you ask me if I have found a new exciting plan to live life by, I say, "Yes, I plan on learning something new constantly. I plan on getting out of my comfort zone again and again. I plan to sleep more and spend more quality time with my family. I plan to fail in order to learn. I plan on not pretending to know it all but to ask for advice and guidance. I plan on helping others grow while I grow myself, and I plan to be present in every moment of my life."