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

Six black suitcases.
Carefully packed, re-packed, weighed, and re-weighed. Wrapped tightly with bright luggage belts. They contained everything we had to start life on the other side of the world.

We were so excited and hopeful.
Yet realities of the immigrant life, much like Canadian winters, soon chilled us to the bones.

“Stupid” was one of my first English words, because that’s what my new classmates called me.
“It’s not fair” I cried each of the ten times I had to change schools because we were moving again.

“Don’t worry, true gold will shine anywhere” my mother would say.

I always wondered how she could be so sure.
What if I wasn’t true gold? What if I was never meant to shine?

Yet my trials and tribulations were trivial compared to those of my parents.
Giving up their careers as a renowned physician and engineer, starting from the bottom, working three jobs a day as janitor or nanny, just to make ends meet.

Watching them, I realized that’s what true gold was made of: hard work and perseverance.
That it meant confidence, humility, and willingness to keep trying, against all odds.
I will strive to shine, even where I never thought possible.

— Tina Chen