Speech presented at 6.23.2014, MinneapolisToastmasters Club 75
Many years ago, on a hot summer evening, as the sunset was reddening the whole sky, a girl was sitting at an old wood table under a big tree in her grandpa’s courtyard. She had a stunning dream in which she became a traveling educator and an independent writer. She travelled all around the world, made numerous speeches to a wide variety of people, and published several books. Now this 30 year old girl is in front of you and her dream is just setting off.
The dream was awakened because of a period of depression. Sounds unbelievable, right? This story traces back to when I was 23 years old. I had an enviable job, I became the youngest lecturer in an a-level college in China. I had my own apartment and lived a relaxing and stable life. After 3 years of work, I got tired of my life and became confused of my future. At the same time, I broke up with my boyfriend and I was under great pressure from my parents and my peers. They thought I was the right age to be getting married and having a baby. Otherwise, I would definitely become an unfortunate “leftover” woman in China. All those useless information washed through me and suddenly I felt unjoyful and depressed. I isolated myself. I stayed home by myself and didn’t hang out with my friends. I was in this depression for 3 months.
Amazingly, after three months of turmoil, insomnia and isolation, I suddenly woke up one morning and discovered my real being. I guess the tough time gave me an opportunity to discover who I really am and what I really want. In most of my life, I am a “doing” person, who always makes something happen, pursues something new, achieves something good. I feel good when I am in charge of my life and can change the present into something better. I feel sad when I can’t control my reaction to my circumstances. When I am trapped in the out-of-control circumstances, as a perfectionist, I start self-criticism and self-devaluation. I finally realized it was my perfectionism that made me sad and unsatisfied about my life. I trapped myself. My outside environment had not trapped me. I realized that I needed to learn how to let things go, how to flow with life rather than resist or fight.
With this new realization, I started to study English and do sports. Now, I am in the United States and am pursuing my Ph.D. degree at the UMN. I run 3 miles everyday, practice my abs and am learning pole dance. I feel more relaxed about what I am doing. My perfectionism has died down considerably because I am able to focus on what I am doing now rather than worrying about the future. I believe our positive behaviors impact our mind greatly. I know I will definitely encounter more challenges in the future, I will definitely feel a little bit depressed in the future as well, as a Ph.D. student in the United States. But now I am getting a handle on it. I am trying to notice, watch, and experience bad emotions fully instead of fighting or resisting against it. I am trying to let my positive behaviors shape my body, impact my mind, and transform my life.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how lights get in”. We all have cracks in our lives but we are also life crackers at the same time. On our life journey, filled with ups and downs, hopes and disappointments, we are all trying to find our identity. I believe our crack creates an opening for us to find our unique identity if we are brave and wise enough to be a life cracker.