“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I cried watching Michelle Kwan skate to “Fields of Gold” in the 2002 Winter Olympics after she just missed the gold medal—not out of sadness for her, but out of joy over seeing someone who looked like me shine.

My fifth-grade self had never stepped foot on a skating rink but had no trouble picturing herself at the Olympics. I enrolled in skating lessons, fully believing thatwith Michelle’s work ethic, positivity, and sequined gold outfitI, too, could achieve greatness.

My skating dreams melted once I discovered my general aversion to jumping and lack of grace on ice, but I came across other Michelle Kwans: Asian-Americans who shaped who I was and showed me who I could become. My older brother was the Michelle Kwan I knew personally, who day after day showed me possibilities, not limitations.

I haven’t thought about the original Michelle Kwan in a long time, but I will never forget how she opened my eyes in 2002 and dared me to think bigger.

I will be my own Michelle Kwan. I may not always achieve gold, but I’ll hold on to my fifth-grade confidence and Olympic-sized dreams, even if it takes a little imagination.

— Carol Lin