Back in May this year, I was so fed up with everything that was happening in my life. I craved to study abroad; as a result, I attempted to apply for a undergraduate scholarship in Australia. My mother strongly opposed my decision by refusing to pay for any living cost — if I ever got accepted by the university through scholarship. I knew I was crazy to even contemplate about studying abroad, considering how high the currency was (in white people’s countries) when compared to Indonesia’s Rupiah. Nevertheless, I was extremely eager to escape from my current university life (even now, I still want to escape). At that time, I was actually disappointed since I thought I had lost my one and only opportunity of living overseas.
Per usual, I watched a couple of TED Talks whenever I felt down. That was when I found this gem of a woman named Zain Asher (watch: here). The video was only 14-15 minutes long, but goddamn it did alter my dull perspective in life.
Although she is a Nigerian, Zain Asher was born and raised in England. When she was still 9 years old, Zain lost her father due to a car accident in Nigeria. How devastating — she got a message on her father’s death after waiting upon his flight arrival for hours. As a single parent, Zain’s mother decided that she would give her children proper education, ranging from poor state school in rural area to private boarding school in the city, to get through life. The reason of exposing her children to such diverse type of schooling was to gain a lot of acquaintances, as she thought relation equaled success. When Zain was 16, her mother forced her to aim undergraduate degree in Oxford University, one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. Prohibited from watching any TV shows and using the telephone by her mother, Zain focused herself on studying hard for the sake of Oxford University’s acceptance letter. Her childhood might be difficult, yet she proceeded to get a degree in French and Spanish.
Despite clutching a distinction degree from Oxford, Zain could not land herself on a comfortable corporate job. Her first job was only as a receptionist. Although she had worked her ass off (even working for late hours), she still could not aim promotion for higher position. Ironically, she still had to serve a glass of water to the boss who offered the wanted position, since she was the receptionist.
One day, Zain did some thinking about her future: she knew that being a receptionist was not her calling. Thus, she then decided to send edited recordings of herself to a TV anchor. At that exact time, economic crisis attacked the UK and left Zain jobless with no money. Notwithstanding the unfortunate situation, Zain moved to NYC with the hope of getting accepted by that one TV anchor. The company adored Zain’s recordings so much to the point that she got accepted right on the spot. She took the job whilst educating herself on business solely by reading textbooks about bonds, stock exchange, mergers, etc. in the library. She’d visit the library in the morning, and leave at night. Luck rained over her when she met a man who gave an opportunity of becoming a CNN business anchor. The man guiltily told her that she was only given several days to prepare for the entrance exam, but Zain had no fear — she’d been preparing the exam for years, considering the hours spent in the library. In the end, she got herself an impressive job as a business TV anchor for CNN. Now, she never considers a single day as “working” because she is just doing what she loves the most. Sounds cheesy, but Confucius (a philosopher) also said the same thing: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
The struggles that she ever faced have turned Zain Asher into one successful individual. Zain doesn’t believe in competition; instead, she believes in creating her own path to aim passion. Being innovative is more beneficial than comparing yourself to others. Looking at your peers for inspiration might be good for you, but it can also increase useless insecurity that can restrain your own growth.
I used to compare myself with my friends all the time. Until now, I still feel like shit whenever I saw pictures of my acquaintances having the time of their lives in university. It’s the ugliest habit, and I know I should stop. I’m not entirely sure of my future either, but I suppose.. If you work hard on what you love, things will eventually fall into the right pieces. To whoever is struggling, trust yourself. Trust your knowledge, capabilities, and never ever give up. Besides, there’s beauty in the struggle (as J.Cole once said in his song Love Yourz).
“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”
― Flavia Weedn