Unicorn Diaries Part 2: The C Word
Many moons before Migos, shout out Migos, I used the following Gianni Versace quote as my senior quote:
“In the past, people were born royal. Nowadays, royalty comes from what you do.”
In the decade since, my fundamentals have not changed. I’m still default light-hearted and believe in capitalism and meritocracy. I often wonder how much of my personality has been framed by the struggle in my childhood. I’m grateful for it actually, but I wish it didn’t have to hit so close to home so many times.
While I attended NCSSM, my mom went full cycle through Breast Cancer. It broke me. I watched the symbol of health and resilience in my life go through chemotherapy and unravel. I’ve never felt as powerless as I did then.
I am a pretty chipper, positive guy, but given this uninvited guest in the concoction of usual teenage woes, I hit peak overwhelmed and went through a turbulent academic year. I teetered on the edge of expulsion and back before powering through to graduation. What about her? What was she thinking of in the face of death?
She was thinking about me. She said something back then to my student life advisor that only came to light a couple of weeks ago:
“I don’t care about his grades or how successful he becomes, I care about his mental health.”
This is one of those unsaid truths that I’ve always known deep down inside… that my mother lives for others, but it was moving to hear it articulated. I almost cried like baby on the call when you told me, Brian, but I’m not an amateur. (I waited till later)
If had to point to one of the many drivers of my adult aspirations ? my mom has lived the life of a saint and I have to validate her sacrifices. The majority of her existence has been in the trenches of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and I have to build her a ladder to climb to the top. I’m beyond privileged in that I’ve never had to question my purpose. I dgaf about a carrot on a stick, this is the fire under my ass.
Not tryna be fourth and inches, I’m tryna go the distance
― Drake – Lose You
Hardship has had a rubber band effect on my adult life, but not overnight. I spent many years wandering in a fog, poking my head around the corner and dipping my toes in this and that. My life took off after I discovered software.
I’m only beginning to see the effects of picking the right direction. As opportunity ripples accelerate into waves, I plan to continue investing in my north star: to create everlasting peace of my mind, security and happiness for my family and those closest to me.
I love to play hard but I take my work very seriously because of this constant reminder. If you’re on the other end of this spectrum, without purpose after disaster, the only way is to continue seeking it. It took me until 24 to find exactly what I wanted to do, but I’m making up for lost time in spades. Try everything, exhaust your options and if you need a another perspective, let me know. Generally, don’t try to go it alone.
Intense periods of my life have helped me get to know myself. I genuinely believe that strife is a precursor to self-discovery which leads to competitive advantage. For instance, I’ve learned that I can’t focus in the long-term on a project without being emotionally charged about the subjects. This helps me eschew distraction and disqualify lackluster opportunities.
Speaking of people I love, I can’t thank those that were there for me at NCSSM enough. I have a pretty colorful memory and I haven’t forgotten a single splash. You recognized that humans are multidimensional. You saw through my exterior and pierced through my defenses when I needed you to. Thank you and just know that I intend to return the favor quite soon.
If you take away anything from this, I encourage you to never assume you know where someone is coming from. If you take things from an angle of extreme empathy and zero assumption, you’ll have only incredible stories to hear.
Aynul Habib ‘07