Writer Brene Brown explains in her book “Rising Strong” that human beings adore triumphant stories of overcoming but we never really dig deep enough to know that behind the stories of victory are countless nights of agony, of debating whether to keep going or just give up, and the nights where our Instagram stories don’t ever come close to what happens behind the scenes.
She goes on to say that it’s important to share this part of our journey: to get out there and tell the stories of the trials we’ve overcome in an effort to encourage others to do the same.
This brings us to the story of Mikee (not her real name), a high school schoolmate who has been living in the United States for quite some time now.
Growing up in a middle income household, Mikee, along with her siblings, went to private Christian schools, earning her Pharmacy degree from one of the country’s top universities.
The life she shared with her mom, a government employee, her two brothers, and her OFW engineer father wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. In fact, it was quite normal up until her mother passed away after battling cancer for seven years.
Mikee recalls the life-altering event and how it impacts her to this day, “She fought hard but cancer overcame her. She battled cancer with faith, a positive outlook, and grace. Her faith and how she lived is one that I try to emulate.”
She took the board but came up one point short so her dad decided to send her and her older brother to the US, “Just like any Filipino parent, he wanted us to go and live in ‘greener’ pastures.”
Her dad was adamant in his desire to see them flourish in the US to the point that he didn’t allow them to go back to Manila until they found a stable source of income. Mikee’s older brother couldn’t take it but Mikee persisted even if the “greener” pasture was more grey than green.
Surviving the US was how Mikee described her situation, “Seems like you’re travelling but never quite arriving, living but not really. It’s really survival mode, pinching every dollar and constantly thinking of family back home, missing them during special occasions, especially during Christmas.”
She goes on to recall how difficult the first year was but she refused to wallow and chose to win anyway. She overcame the differences in culture, especially she grew up with household help and a relatively comfortable life, “There were times of frustration and crying out to God but I kept going to make my mom proud.”
What fueled her even more was the fact that her father remarried without letting them know and she was now in charge of her brothers, just as she promised her mom.
Today, Mikee is more or less more accustomed to her new way of life after having gained confidence through her experiences of moving to three different states and moving closer to family, “I moved to a state to be closer with my relatives, found a church that I can be a part of, made a couple of real friends, and learned to live on my own and take care of myself.”
She goes on to say, “Looking back, I don’t know how I survived it. It is all by God’s grace. Whenever things got way too intense for me to handle, when things are turning out other than what I have expected, I would just ask God to give me strength and patience to endure this moment. I’ve always asked him to lead me out of the desert, to open doors for me, and for him to just lead me.” And her prayers were answered, one opportunity at a time.
Today, she looks forward to what lies ahead and advises others to do the same, “Life is all about seasons. These are just phases/seasons in life. Be thankful in small victories. Keep the faith and press on. You are so much stronger and braver than you though you will ever be.”