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No Handouts, Just Hard Work

I believe anyone can be great, even you. All you have to do is find your way. When we’re born, we start out with a unique set of skills and talents. By finding the right combination of these two things, we can reach our potential. To find your sweet spot, you just need to be patient and keep experimenting. After that, it’s time for you to put in the long hours and hard work. The more you are willing to give, the more you will ultimately get.

Whatever advantages you have when you begin your journey can make a big difference too. A head start is a usually (but not always) a good start. I never got a handout in life and things were never easy. The only “privilege” I got was a mother that shoved me out of my comfort zone and pushed me out of the only country I knew. Because of that, I knew I had no choice. I had to take my life and my education seriously, and I was prepared to put in the effort.

Everything turned out much harder than I expected. I struggled badly playing Division I soccer at San Diego State, being a student who barely spoke any English, and working to pay for school. My dream quickly became a nightmare. I felt isolated. I didn’t even know how to do the simplest things like my laundry. I felt like a failure. I eventually had to quit soccer to focus on school.

Quitting soccer was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Though it seemed like it at the time, I realize now that I didn’t lose everything that mattered. When I came here, having so little made me hungry all the time. And that’s something I never lost. It got me through college and eventually through grad school. By the time I got my PhD and a new dream, I had learned how to balance things like athletics and academics. I was forced to see what was important and what wasn’t – and not care about anything in between.

Does that make me special? I don’t think so, not at all. I just saw many opportunities, tried them out, quit and kept going. If I can do it, I believe anyone can. The only thing is, you have to ask yourself how badly you want something. Do you have the hunger? Do you have the patience to fail?

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