I watched a clip of Dr. Victor Rios’ interview about the adversities he faced growing up and how he overcame them to obtain his PhD. Dr. Rios is a very highly regarded Sociology professor at UCSB. He is also known for his work in the community working with youths. In his interview, he said the words “Own your story. Share your story.” This really resonated with me. For most of my life, I never really felt as if I had anything remarkable to share. I can’t speak about the struggles other friends have had in their lives. I’ve encountered racism, discrimination, and struggles throughout my life, but even then, I never felt as if they’re at the level worthy of talking about. But what I’ve come to realize that as unremarkable as my life may have been to this point, I do have some perspectives to share.
My family and I came to the United States when I was 11 years old. While I spoke some English, I was teased a lot in the playground because of my “fresh off the boat” accent. Because of the fear of being teased, I sometimes pretended to be sick during those days when I had to do oral book reports. I became self-conscious of my speech for the most part of high school and even for the first year or so in college. I feared public speaking because I expected to see someone in the audience laughing at my accent. So, I stayed quiet. I had ideas, but I chose not to share them. I finally got tired of staying silent. I became more vocal towards my latter part of college. I finally gained some confidence.
When I became a professional, I soon found out my voice would be drowned again. I felt the same struggles as when I was growing up. At meetings, I felt as if my ideas were ignored. When I spoke about my perspective as a person of color, I felt as if I wasn’t taken seriously. I lost confidence and found myself trying to express my perspectives once again.
It is through my blog posts that I’m finally able to express my thoughts, share my experience growing up, about the sacrifices my parents made and the value systems I learned from them. It’s through my blog posts that I can share my concepts of leadership and the influences and philosophies that shape my leadership style.
When I started my blog, I didn’t have expectations when it came to who will be reading them or if people would even find my posts interesting enough to read. What I have found though is that in sharing my stories, I’ve developed some connections with folks I have never even met in person before. As I’ve come to find out, I am not alone in how I see the world and with my struggles.
While my life may not be remarkable enough worthy of a movie or a book, it’s been liberating to be able to share my story – to own them and to be able to share them.