In life, sometimes, we lose hope. Sometimes, we get frustrated. And sometimes, destiny will step in to give us a little boost to restore our faith. And that's exactly what happened in 2006. Just when I was ready to give up, begin a new journey and veer off into a completely different path, life stepped in and threw me right back on my dream track to becoming a sportscaster.
At the age of 26, I was losing hope in my dreams as a sportscaster. At News 14 Carolina in Raleigh, I was acting as both producer and reporter, writing and presenting the news and sportscasts. I was asked to cover everything from a fatal car accident to breaking news to the most heated rivalry in all of college sports -- Duke vs. UNC basketball. Being News 14's news/sports producer and reporter, the station's jack-of-all-trades if you will, was exciting and fun, but it was also exhausting. In addition to feeling like I was being pulled in many different directions, it was also physically demanding. As a one-man band reporter, on my worst days, I would shoot a four-hour college football game using a 25 pound camera, carry another 15 pounds in equipment, conduct the post-game interviews, shoot my own stand-up, return to the station, then write and edit the story in less than an hour. It was rewarding, but hard work for very little return, at least financially. Mired in frustration and losing hope in my aspirations as a sportscaster, I had reached a crossroads in my career. Could I, mentally and physically, continue on this path and be able to support myself?
After much thought, I decided I needed a contingency plan and that I would enroll in Duke's Fuqua Business School. Admissions said although I was young, they were intrigued with my collegiate and professional background. All I needed was a sufficient GMAT score. With my sights set on a new journey, I enrolled in GMAT tutoring for the bargain price of $4,000 (clearly, sarcasm). Less than a week later, my agent called to inform me that CBS in Miami was interested in hiring me as a sportscaster. I was ecstatic, yet in disbelief that I was even being considered for this opening. One interview and several months later, I was in downtown Miami living my dream as a sports reporter and anchor for CBS in Miami. My life had gone through a complete transformation that summer. Needless to say, I asked for a refund back on my GMAT tutoring. Thankfully, I got my $4,000 back.
Even the most successful people in life get discouraged, experience rejection, make mistakes and doubt themselves. In fact, adversity is inevitable, and it is those challenges that make us stronger and better equipped to handle the demands of success. With a combination of hard work, focus, dedication, positivity, integrity and a little luck, you'll find yourself right back on the journey that was meant for you -- on your dream track.
My role models are two women who I believe exemplify true woman power -- Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. They are trailblazers. They are believers. They have dealt with their share of criticism and discrimination -- Oprah as an African-American woman in journalism and Ellen as a gay woman in comedy. Despite the tears, trials and tribulations, they fought all the way to the top. Today, Oprah and Ellen continue to integrate themselves in our community and be a part of important discussions, nationwide and worldwide. They bring issues to the forefront to help find solutions, or at least raise awareness. They use their platform for a good cause. They are leaders with integrity. Most importantly, they have fun along the way and not only make people laugh, but make people feel good about themselves. Other women who have also achieved these feats and inspired me are Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Arianna Huffington, Steffi Graf and Angelina Jolie. For me, as a Thai American female sportscaster (which could be considered a triple whammy in my industry -- good and bad), it has given me the courage to embrace my differences and continue chasing my dreams no matter how difficult the journey gets. I hope, one day, I'll be able to return the favor for what Oprah and Ellen have done for me. Maybe, one day, a little girl will be able to glance up on the television screen, see this crazy, Thai female sportscaster, and think, I can do it too.
My advice to women of today is to be proud, bold and unapologetic about who you are. Being a woman in today's society is challenging. It is a constant battle trying to balance the pressures and demands from so many different realms. Maintain your femininity, but don't be too soft. Be strong, but not too masculine. Be sensitive, but not too emotional. Be domestic, but career-driven. Embrace motherhood, but be a professional shark. We also face unrealistic cultural expectations to be ultra-thin, eternally young and forever beautiful. But I do believe it is a blessing to be a woman in the 21st century, because of all the opportunities that have been afforded to us as women have become empowered over the years. You can either fight it or embrace it. I choose to embrace these challenges. In order to take full advantage of it, YOU MUST BE YOURSELF. At the end of the day, this is your journey, you are the driver, and it's up to you on how you want to travel through it all.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.