I believe in the power of the individual. The reality that each individual faces is shaped, interpreted and ultimately accepted by his or her own ingenuity, intelligence and resolve. I believe in the power an individual has to leave comfort zones, accept changes and rely on his or her own ability to maintain a positive outlook.
I learned this, as many in the military and expatriate communities will understand, through being uprooted from the familiar and planted firmly in the unknown. In my case, I was forced to leave my home nation of New Zealand so that my father could follow the oil patch to Brunei, in South East Asia. As I stepped off the plane into the muggy, equatorial thickness of haze, churning heat waves of air filled with the rancorous shouts of Malay and Chinese rolled overhead. Never had I felt more like liquid – like something sloshing over the surface of the earth with no way to anchor or to freeze it yet. This was a new home, not only to me, but also to everyone in my four-person family. I was the only one who was going to be able to help me adjust.
At our home on a hillside above the city, cackling parrots and the shrieks of bats pierced the air as a lilting undertone of chants from the mosque minarets signaled evening. I was alone here. When you truly are alone, you have an opportunity to see what you’re made of. When there is no one to help you adapt, it’s your skills and personal attitude that will take the place of a guide.
18 months later I was very reluctant to leave, having achieved success in personal relationships, cultural fluency and international school career. In life, little indicators of our personal strength are abundant. From the single mom working so hard to the migrant worker sending remittances back to his family, even the industrialist CEO who sees profit as a measure of success. For them, and for all of us, success is a measure of ability, determination and a relentless dedication to a personal goal.
These individuals: the single mom, the migrant worker, or the industrialist CEO may seem to have their family or their shareholder in mind. But if it makes these individuals happy to see others happy, this too can be an indicator of strength and ability – individual strengths utilized to fulfill a personal goal. Dedication to an end-goal, ability, and a constant desire to improve one’s strengths will determine a person’s lot in life. This is how I live because this is what I believe.
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