Have you been lucky enough to have had someone share a similar experience with you? Like you’re in a conversation talking about your personal experience in a situation, and then the other person goes “oh yeah, I can totally relate!”, and then goes ahead to share their own experience in the same context. How did you feel at that moment? It brought you close right? It made the conversation more meaningful, and the bond between both persons much stronger than before. That’s how powerful stories can be.
What I wanna share with you as you read this, is not just how powerful stories can be in building relationships but also how strategic it can be in starting new ones. I had a conversation with a colleague and a recent friend of mine – Serena Shwanek . Serena and I live in different continents, we met each other in an online leadership program that has inspired us to continuously strive to be the best versions of ourselves. While we’ve never officially met in person, we’ve been able to connect via social media and share our own stories with each other.
To guide us, we decided to talk about our own version of “Where we are currently at and how we got here”.
To help you know me a bit better, I’ll share a bit of mine here. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. I’ve been here all my life. I don’t consider myself a traveler. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the luxury to or I just don’t have the desire. I recently graduated from a renowned university in the East of Nigeria – Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State. I studied Financial Management Technology, and I seek to pursue a career in Financial Analysis. While this is my educational background, what inspires me as a person is my family – my desire to provide for them. To make them better than when I met them. I’m encouraged by this and also pressured too because I sometimes feel I don’t have the time to do all the things I had hoped I would do for them.
My family’s influence expresses itself in the accomplishments I have so far in my life. I seek to do more for myself just because of my family. This desire has caused me to pursue opportunities outside my country. I have decided to further my education by acquiring a Masters Degree abroad. I have currently started my application at specific universities, and I am also applying for scholarships as my willingness to study abroad is hinged on actually getting a scholarship due to lack of funds.
“If this doesn’t work, I need to have a plan B” I said to myself one afternoon. After much pondering, I decided to apply for job opportunities abroad, specifically centered on Financial Analysis (my career interest). My line of thought was: If I don’t get a scholarship to study abroad, maybe I could get a job abroad and have enough money to pay for my school. And so I began to act on these two decisions, and this is where I’m currently at and how I got here.
But guess what? Serena’s story isn’t far off. As a matter of fact, it’s like the title of this piece – a different version of the same story.
Her story. My story. Our story.
Serena is an 18 year old beautiful young lady from Argentina. Since she was 10, her dream has always been to study abroad, to pursue a better future for herself and her family long before she even knew what she wanted to study.
To put words and intentions into action, she started doing research into the most prestigious schools in the world. At first, she didn’t know even know what country she wanted to go to, but her trip to New York, USA in 2017 settled her worries. Even though she didn’t know what major to study yet, she was certain this was the place to live.
Her connection to the city that never sleeps can be likened to Moana’s connection to the sea – It calls for her.
Her desire to make this a reality, has caused her to push herself academically, ensuring her grades were up, and maintaining them. She has experienced emotional setbacks which affected her attitude towards work and school, but she didn’t let that affect her desire for a better future. She started working on the relationship she has with herself and with others. This was important for her because it made her more confident in her abilities and being able to fully express herself without worry. As she began this journey, she learned more about herself – her love for Mathematics and being a servant leader. She remains devoted to her goal of studying abroad and she is constantly putting in the work.
Another thing that inspires her decision to study abroad is her family. She desires to provide a better future for her family. She said to me the same thing I’ve said to myself over and over again: “I can’t see a future for myself here (in our different countries). It may seem that we both have dreams that are impossible to fulfill or maybe we’re living in fantasy and failing to stick to our realities that we can’t really make such drastic changes on our own. But what excuse is there not to try, when we can and while we’re able to pursue the things we believe in? Even if we fail, let it not be because we did not try.”
So I hope this post helps you see how our uniqueness doesn’t hinder our similarities. Serena and I share our journey on the same values – Self awareness and Family. For you it may be something different, but don’t you think that there isn’t anyone who doesn’t understand or can’t relate to the journey you’re in. Yes, we’re on our personal journey, but it doesn’t mean we won’t come across people on the way to our destination. For all we may know, they might even be the ones to guide us to the place we were always meant to go.
This post was written by Wilson Texas and inspired by Serena Schwanek.