The sciences always came easy to me. I was set to study Pure & Applied Science at the junior college that my cousin went to. But when another junior college came to present and told us that 89% of their graduates got accepted into their first choice of university, I had to study there. I needed the surest way to become a cash cow for my family.
Once I got accepted, I joined every math, science, computer, engineering and robotics club. I knew if I wanted to go to university, I'd have to get a scholarship. Since good grades alone wouldn't suffice, I needed to show a well rounded portfolio and leadership skills.
One day, we went to the machining shop at our partner university to make robot parts. Hehehe, robot parts. Our mentor demo'ed how to make an aluminum coupling that would attach a gear to a motor shaft. I was the only girl in the group. He pulled me out of the crowd and challenged me to replicate that coupling on the lathe.
I had never touched any kind of industrial machinery before. I replicated the coupling with such finesse, dexterity, and patience that mine turned out better than his! It fit soooooo snuggly that it made a suction sound when I attached it to the motor shaft and gear.
After a few months, he noticed how trustworthy, careful and competent at teaching others I was. So he hired me to work at the machining shop full-time for a summer.
I got to work on million dollar computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to make fancy, schmancy aerospace, biophysics and wave particle machine parts.
My talent spread so fast that graduate, doctorate and post-doc students asked me to either teach them or make parts for them. Some professors also got on board. I performed so well with tremendously satisfied customers that my mentor requested that my next paycheck be doubled!
Already I was an unprecedented hire. Normally, this job would go to the son or daughter of professors in the department. I wasn't even a student at that university yet. It'd be another a year and a half before I'd start university.
After that summer, my mentor asked me what I thought about not even bothering with university and to go straight to work with a partner company that operated at the 7-figure level, which implied I'd be working at the 6-figure level. And I was still a teenager! The owner of that partner company knew of my work and reputation, and even offered to make me his personal apprentice and leave me his business in about 10 years time, when he retired. Whaaaaaat?!? What an offer?!?
LETTING GO / WALKING AWAY
But I let it all go. If you think paper cuts hurt, imagine hot metal cuts! One day, as I sat on the bus to go to work, time seemed to stop. I looked down at my hands, which wriggled in slow motion, and wasn't fond of what I saw: 9 band-aids on 9 out of 10 fingers.
I was never ever a "girly girl," but I really didn't want to have burly man hands either. I didn't want to constantly smell like industrial coolant, with black gunk under my fingernails. In an over-simplified way, I didn't want my dad's profession. This offer would have been ideal for my dad.
But had I said yes to it, my life would have been an over-compensation for the life that my dad "lost" when he immigrated to Canada, which didn't recognize the equivalency of his engineering degree. It would not have been my life.
FEARS / EMOTIONAL RUMBLE
Fear of being ostracized, "What if the other get jealous and kick me out of the team?"
After being ostracized, foggy confusion as to what I did wrong?
It'd be another 17 years before I learned the term "smart shaming," where it's simply easier for jealous peers to hack you down tor being too accomplished than to raise themselves up to achieve their own greatness
Weekly joy of making stuff, and when I showed it to my peers, it just made some even more envious
Incomprehensible, naive questioning of why I am the being attacked when my supervisor was the one who chose and hired me (I didn't even apply or ask for the job)
Oh, so you think you're special?
You think you're better than us?
You're out. We don't want you in our gang.
Are you insane to turn down 6-figure offers? They won't come around again, you know.
So your dad's profession isn't good enough for you?
Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that it could have been different.
UNFOLDING DESTINY / LESSONS
Grit: 2/10 | Grace: 8/10
It was not a stroke of luck, but of blessed grace that I met my mentor. Until this day, 21 years later, we are still friends and in touch. And until this day, I have no clue what he saw in me to pluck this "little nobody" (my words, not his) out of that crowd. He just saw me, he championed me, and he protected me from the jealousy of peers and bureaucracy of academia, so much of it I was unaware of.
He wrote the most stellar letter of reference that secured a full 4-year scholarship for me to attend that very same university. No one had ever believed in me. All I ever heard at home was, "Not good enough. Not perfect enough. Not cash cow'ing fast enough."
At an age with precarious self-esteem, he taught me to stand up for myself, to embrace my talents, and to shrink to no one. As in any true mentor, he never wanted, needed or expected anything in return. He just kept fanning the flames of his students.
My greatest lesson and takeaway is the painful acknowledgement that we rarely have our self-worth and self-esteem needs met at home. If not for the grace of external teachers, mentors, counselors or guides at the right place and the right time, we would all end up in very dark places.
To wish that our home provided the nurturing and championing that we needed only causes more needless suffering. They say forgiveness is letting go of the hope that it could have been different. I couldn't agree more.
SACRED BRAND ARCHETYPES
I was in awe that my own two hands could shape raw metals into practical couplings, gears and levers to join two disparate parts together. I just adored making things that ended with "tada!"
It'd be another 20 years before I fully comprehended the nature of our soul, which is to express itself organically, regardless of egoic control. Here, my soul expressed itself through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Alchemist (primary) and Artist (secondary). Who knew?!?
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In this series...
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Computer Teacher (Part 1/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Developer (Part 2/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Industrial Machinist (Part 3/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Banking Officer (Part 4/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerospace Engineer (Part 5/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Energy Researcher (Part 6/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Systems Designer (Part 7/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an International Aid Worker (Part 8/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Global E-Strategist (Part 9/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a United Nations Consultant (Part 10/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Design Agency (Part 11/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Success Coach (Part 12/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Wealth Mentor (Part 13/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerial Yoga Studio (Part 14/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Psychotherapist (Part 15/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Spiritual Guide (Part 16/16)
Fan the flames
"Fear not the flames. You are the fire."
May these liberation tools and reclamation stories inspire and guide you to navigate time, identity, and creativity, gracefully and joyfully. xo Ella
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