You Can’t…

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

It’ll be an experience to climb stairs like the one in the photo…I enjoy walking up and down stairs…more than boring escalators or boxed-in elevators. Stairs provide the feeling of freedom…I get to choose my pace; I get to feel the intensity of breathing, my heart beats really fast, stop whenever I feel like, looking up and counting how many of them left, or simply looking down and enduring the journey…I love stairs because it feels like life…no easy way out… full of choices…

Last year, when I went to do the annual check-up, I told my primary doctor that I gained about 15 pounds during the pandemic. I was 123 pounds before the pandemic and 138 pounds during the check-up. To me, weight isn’t about looking good. It is about how I want to see myself in the mirror; I would like to feel neither heavy nor too light. When I shared with her that I had gained 15 pounds, my intent was not to complain. My tone was flat, it was a statement, and the intent was to share. Then, I heard this statement from my primary doctor, “ You could lose a couple of pounds, but it won’t be drastic. Your metabolism is slowing down at the age of 50.” I stared at her, nodded, smiled, but inside me…I rebelled! I am not saying she was wrong to say that the metabolism is slowing down. I am not fond of how she delivered the message…it’s like a verdict! And, I despise verdict!

There is a habit that I have instilled in myself since I was ten years old; the trigger was I loved basketball, and I was short, so I’ve heard many discouragements, both from peers and adults. Those comments angered me. I wasn’t angry because they told me I was short. That was part of me; I was short. I wasn’t angry because they said basketball wouldn’t be the right sport for me. That also made a lot of sense. I was angry because of the way they delivered the message. It was a verdict, a limitation, an impossibility. That didn’t sit well with me.

I was a lot younger then. My ego was huge! What I did was: I spent lots and lots of time on the basketball court, practiced to drive the ball, to shoot from different angles, and the hardest one was to shoot the three-pointers. I figured I was short, so to master the three-pointers would be beneficial since I didn’t have to come too close to the basket. I made it to the varsity basketball team in middle and high school. Not as a starter, yet I was quite satisfied. I kept practicing hard to stay on the team from sixth to eleventh grade.

The lesson I learned about myself back then was I could achieve with persistence, determination, and consistent effort ( with some amount of anger and annoyance). I wasn’t the kind of person who would show persistence, determination, and consistency when I wasn’t angry. I would persevere, but I wouldn’t be as focused. I purposefully wrote “angry” and not “challenged” because I wasn’t driven by a commitment to be better. I was driven by my ego. My intent was to prove others wrong. Since my ego drove the actions, I didn’t plan well. As much as I thought the effort was about me, it wasn’t. It was about others.

This mindset worked wonders for me. It brought me many achievements, awards, full scholarships, college to post-graduate degrees from the Ivys, and entrepreneurship. As an immigrant and a female, I’d experienced some of my professors telling me that it’d be hard to start my own educational-based business. It won’t be profitable since there were big companies as competitors. I was in the finishing line of my dissertation in education and philosophy, and I couldn’t see myself being a professor. I wanted to pursue my idea. With an undergraduate degree in accounting and finance with minors in philosophy and economics, I started to do research and analysis. Then, I decided to become a nanny. I figured this would be the way to understand what parents and families need and what the children missed from schooling that could be good additions to their learning experience. It was one thing for me to have a vision; it was another thing to be involved in the field and understand the demands. I needed to balance between my data-based research and analysis with reality. This would strengthen my chances to succeed.

I heard criticisms and disagreements from lots of my professors, colleagues, and of course, my family. They couldn’t understand that I decided to be a nanny while finishing with a doctorate and getting professorial offers from some top universities, both in the U.S. and abroad. Yet, I stood by my pursuit. Those criticisms and disagreements angered me. I wanted to prove them wrong. I knew that I could start my own educational-based company and a profitable one, that is!

That was in 2004. I started my own company in 2007.

My first business adventure lasted until 2013. Then, I slightly modified the nature of the business to make expansion possible ( not in size, but services). I started the second business adventure in the summer of 2013. I am still doing it now. Like everything else in life, growth is required. Changes are necessary. Plateau is expected. I am not speaking about the business. I am talking about myself as a human being. The company is the venue of my growth; it forces me to identify and admit plateau, which drives me to change.

Motivated by anger didn’t work too well anymore when I hit 45 years old, say around 2016. My background in philosophy nudged me. I started having a hard time being angry when I heard discouragements. I began to listen to those discouragements differently: those were not intended for me; they were intended for the people who said them. The discouragements are the limitations they put onto themselves and have nothing to do with me. I hit the plateau of being angry.

I started with a new growth…when I heard others discourage me, I invited them into a conversation. I asked them open-ended questions focused on the why and the how. I would ask, “why do you think I couldn’t do it?” or, “how would you come up to the conclusion that my suggestion isn’t possible? What part of the suggestion that leads you to the conclusion?” And, with this new approach,

I have learned a new thing about myself…the conversations, the open-ended questions, the open-mindedness of listening to others lead to a better me. It wasn’t driven by ego. It was driven by me taking care of me. Awesome!

Simultaneously, this growth brought me to a new adventure…I realized that I could be a coach…I could help others identify their potentials…I could help others be better versions of themselves…you see, when each of us aims to be a better version of ourselves, the world will be a better place…our younger generations will benefit…Fantastic!

As for the annual check-up visit, as much as I wasn’t fond of how my doctor delivered her message, I knew one thing for sure: my aim was not to lose weight. I aim to be comfortable with how I look and feel. It is no longer about pounds. It is about size. It is endurance. It is no longer about strength. I can’t take away all of the cellulite that I have; I could minimize them. I can’t look and don’t want to look like when I was in my 20s or 30s. I could look better.

I can’t” is a fact of life…many things we can’t…however, it is not necessarily an impossibility. It is, often, an understanding and acceptance of limitations. We are humans. We have our limitations. That’s a fact of life.

The flip side of it is: we could always be the best within our limitations…when we accept our limitations, we could take the next move: either use them and learn from them or sit around with them.

I can’t…but I could be…You can’t …but you could be…those are about possibilities, like the stairs…you can always climb it at your own pace, you can always stop, you can always go down and climb back up, you can always sit on it, you can always run it…

Whatever you do…it’ll be about you, for you, on you, in you, with you, to you, and from you…

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible” ( Margaret Drabble)

cArt Bram wrote a beautiful article, “Exactly When Was It That Saying “Luv Ya” Became So Prevalent”…it makes me want to say, “ I can’t love”…but, maybe, “I could be in love”……I won’t say “Luv Ya”…I would always say, “I Love You!”…things that you say and you do from within brings possibilities…and living within the world of limitations, possibilities are essential…they bring hope…they bring future…isn’t it part of the reason why we are writing??…

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Eko BP

Eko BP

craves for more adventures and connections with others through the “why” and the “how” with kindness, challenges, incompleteness, with a touch of cowardliness