I have a confession to make: I nearly dropped out of Yale.
This is hard to admit, and not something I'm proud of.
Here's how it happened.
Back when I was in graduate school, I was living through a 15-year long dark period in my life, which is most of my grown up life.
(When I was 37, I got a huge wake up call and made life-changing decisions. You can read more about it here.)
For a long time I couldn't figure out what my passion was. I knew what I liked. I knew what I was a good at. But I just couldn't picture exactly how to describe what I was passionate about.
When I arrived at Yale, it felt as if my classmates had sparkles in their eyes; they all seemed full of hope and beautiful ideals.
Back then I believed I needed a grand, life-altering passion, something in the line of "I want to change the world!"
But, the truth is, I didn't feel that way at all.
So I turned inward. I felt I was in the wrong place.
I felt I wasn't good enough.
I felt I wasn't adding anything to this world.
I felt lost and so alone.
And I almost dropped out of Yale.
But in the end, I didn't. I hung on and I got through it.
Life is full of lessons.
As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, "Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment."
Here are five life lessons I learned from nearly dropping out from Yale:
1. Your passion doesn't need to be grand or magnificent.
Passion is simply something that brings joy to you. There is no point in comparing or ranking your passion to another person's passion. That is total nonsense. Passion is what you naturally want to do. It's absolutely OK to not have a clear-cut answer. It's OK if you are figuring it out. It will come to you eventually. What is important is to explore and find what brings you joy. Keep asking yourself questions. Trial and error is a beautiful concept. It will eventually lead you to your true passion.
What is the first word or thing that comes to your mind when you are asked what your passion is?
2. Failure is not something to be ashamed of.
You need to experience your lows to know your highs. Similarly, people who don't know how to fail will not recognize true success when they reach it. I was afraid to fail for so long. The fear of failure holds you back from so many things in your life. Focus on what you will gain from taking the risk, not what you will lose. Failure brings lessons and offers a doorway to new discoveries. So decide to apply what you learn as you move forward.
If you were guaranteed to succeed, what would you do?
3. Self-worth cannot be earned from external sources.
Money, fame, titles, none of these defines the true you. Your resume might showcase your accomplishments, but if you don't believe in yourself all the trappings of success will be meaningless. Self-worth must come from within you. You need to trust yourself and believe in yourself. This process might take a long time. It did for me.
If you can't love yourself and be your biggest fan, why would anyone else believe in you?
4. Resilience is the glue that holds it together when times get tough.
I didn't know I was going to struggle so much during business school. I thought it was going to be fun and easy! That was what everyone else had told me. But for me, it involved more change and challenge than I could handle at one time. Life has ups and downs. It throws curve balls at you when you are not ready. You do your best to be prepared, but life has its own plans for you. And that's something you cannot control. But what you can do is learn to be resilient. Train yourself to maneuver through the rough waters. Change is the catalyst for your growth. The best you can do is enjoy the ride and learn a new lesson on the way.
What lessons have you learned from change?
5. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
I wish Brene Brown's work was available back then! I wanted to be flawless. I was afraid to let people see the real me. Because behind the mask I presented to the world was an imperfect person. The real me was lazy sometimes. The real me struggled a lot and felt miserable. The real me felt lost and insecure. The real me wasn't sure if I could make it. I was ashamed. But instead of embracing my vulnerability and asking for help, I held it all in (as much as I could). I closed off. I didn't want to get close to people because I feared they'd see me as a fraud. I carried that fear and shame with me even after graduation. I didn't attend my fifth year reunion because I still carried that baggage with me. It's only recently that I've finally overcome it. I am free of my old, limiting beliefs now.
What fear and shame are you carrying inside you?
When you fully live your life, good things and bad things will happen to you. The best way to get through it is to focus on the lessons you take away from those experiences. Don't worry so much about what or why they happened. Rather, look for what you can learn from them. What will help you grow and become a better version of yourself?
My question to you is: What lessons has life taught you?
Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.