That little girl timidly hiding in a woman’s skirt is obviously a ~four year old me. That woman is my mom, working as a teacher in Marine’s School in our hometown Kolobrzeg, in Poland. She raised me as a single mother when my “father” abandoned us when I was just 3 months old. He kindly gave my mom a choice between giving me away to an orphanage or him leaving. Since then I’ve never seen him again. He never helped us financially nor he cared to keep in touch. I tried few times to reach out, but all my letters and attempts to say hi were left unanswered. Even when two years ago I discovered that I have two half brothers and met them (they are really happy to have an older sister and we keep in touch), he still stays silent.
Crazy story, you may think. I’m grateful for living it because instead of growing in a (most likely) toxic environment, I had all the love, admiration and support from my mom. And perhaps, subconsciously, I used this abandonment to prove my worth to the world, to be seen and show what my “father” is missing out. To push for more and to be of service to others.
I never felt any sorrow for my “father” nor I wanted anything from him, especially money. If anything, I was just curious to understand his motives.
Earlier this week I received an award from the Prime Minister of Poland in the category of Innovation and New Technologies and it felt nice of course, but this feeling is fleeting and doesn’t mean much.
I have been always striving for deeper connections, both in life and business. I guess even the fact that I’m sharing those private stories with you here (where we may not even know each other) is my attempt to connect on a personal level, to relate.
And today I’d like to tell you that just like I did, you can choose how to react to things that are happening to you. That the past doesn’t define you. I chose to turn it into my motivation to do better and you can do so, too.
I could be growing bitter, thinking that life is unfair and that men are assholes (I’ve never been dating such guys, for some reason they all stayed away from my radar :). I could be blaming external circumstances for my setbacks but I chose to believe that I am in control of my life and how I want to shape it (well, most of it). And maybe a bit naively, but it works for me – that happiness is a choice, and I think it’s never too late to choose who you want to become. Identity is a decision, not a destiny.
You should never be afraid of your past. Let it be a guideline for who you want to be. Or not be. Turn obstacles and adversaries into fuel for bettering yourself.
I gained two half-brothers who are happy to have me in their life and look up to me. And while there was nobody to scare my boyfriends (no need, I train karate) I learned to be strong for myself and my mom. And I have an utter respect for people who had to go through hardships and this became their inspiration to do something great.
“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”is a quote from a postapocalyptic novel by the author G. Michael Hopf.
I know this quote is usually referring to pervasive cyclical vision of history, but I see an ironic truth related to my personal events: while a weak man created hard times for my mom and myself, we came out of it strong and determined. And I will make sure that this cycle ends here.