For me, HBS
almost ended before it even started.
When I left the
military the summer before moving to Boston I felt lost, disconnected, and
hopeless. Later I would discover that I
suffered from depression and service-related post-traumatic stress disorder,
but I didn’t know it back then. All I
knew was that Harvard Business School was the last thing on my mind, a place
that seemed surreal and out of reach. The
only reason I even made it to move-in weekend was because of my loving and
supportive parents. I remember my father
telling me that weekend, as we stared at raindrops sliding down a coffee shop
window: “We really want to come back in
two years to see you graduate, you know."
dynamic. So is my changed perspective.
later I'm at a noisy gathering – busy, bustling, lights. "You don't talk much," I'm told. Funny
how he has no idea what’s going on with me. Amidst a crowd of friends and strangers, smiles
and stares, I now remind myself – everyday – that pain and struggle can be
found in places where they are least expected.
We won’t ever know unless we become still enough to notice, and courageous
enough to ask.
I will be
humble and I will be still. I will do my
best to notice those hidden calls for help, no matter how big or small, and I
will ask. I will open my arms and I will
listen, because there were people who did the same for me: like a man
coincidentally named Phoenix, from the ashes, who smiled at me one sunny day
and reassured me it was going to be ok. I
will tell those who feel troubled this:
"It will get
"I believe adaptation
begins with neither strength nor courage, but a willingness to completely surrender
to what is. I adapted by learning to
accept and learning to let go. I started
by giving to others what I felt I was lacking... and I was surprised at how
quickly my empty suddenly became full.
"Most of all,
I overcame it. You can too."
I will tell
them I am ready. I will tell them I am
stronger. And I will tell them how much
I smiled at my parents when I walked across the stage to receive my HBS degree.