Growing up as the son of an Indian diplomat in 10 different countries, my personal growth happened at an accelerated pace. If you’re not familiar with the diplomat lifestyle, essentially what happens is you get posted every 2-3 years to a new country in order to represent your nation. For me, in the age before social media profiles, I was presented with the opportunity to reinvent myself in each of these new countries.
What I learned early on is that we are complex beings who don’t simply project ONE version of ourselves. We are always evolving and growing.
I might be a nerdy, shy, introverted kid with no friends in one country and in the next I get to think:
‘You know what, I’m going to try to make a different friend circle.’
I then got to discover there was another side to me that I hadn’t yet tapped into.
I soon realized that actually I AM kind of funny. I’m not the loud funny guy but I’m the quiet funny guy.
Then in the next country I think…
’You know in the last country no one gave me a chance on the sports teams
so in this one I’m going to see if I can do that’
And over the course of my childhood I discovered parts of me that work and parts that don’t work.
Everyone deserves the chance to reinvent themselves but we don’t always get that opportunity. Being a diplomat’s kid these opportunities for change were a part of that landscape. I have an Indian passport, was born in the UAE, and enjoyed growing up in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, parts of Asia, and then eventually spent 4 years at Yale in the United States.
When you are transplanted from one place to the next at a young age that lifestyle does come with a lot of challenges.
There is a constant sense of loneliness and there are real struggles to understand Identity especially in terms of your nationality. There are times when it’s a struggle to connect your identity with your current location and there are other times when it’s easier to fit in.
Saying goodbye to friends and starting from scratch every few years was never easy. Also, my new peers and I didn’t have the luxury of looking up each other’s social profile to learn our backstories. I had to start from zero. Every. Single. Time.
The greatest gift my parents gave me was teaching me how to adapt. While IQ and EQ are both very valuable, I think AQ, Adaptability quotient, is what matters most in the modern world. The chance to reinvent oneself is a gift and for many, a rare opportunity.
So many people find themselves locked into the expectations of others and then on cue live out the life that is the most “normal” for the community in which they have always been a member.
While everyone might not have the same opportunity to start over fresh or to reinvent themselves there is a lesson in my story. Maybe from time to time it would be wise to take a step back and evaluate who we have become and not just accept things because that’s the way we have always done it, or because that’s how others expect us to act based on their own actions.
We don’t have to be boxed in by the
expectations of those around us
It’s ok for us to reinvent ourselves.
We should always be learning
We should always be growing
We should always be changing
If I am the same person I was 20 years ago..there just might be something wrong.
There is energy, excitement and learning that comes from the cross pollination of being in different cultures, countries, and communities and I thrive off of those experiences. When you look at the pace at which technology is evolving, the speed of modern change forces us to also evolve.
Often hindsight allows us to see the moments in our lives, when we are forced to change, as inflection points; and only then we realize that experience was for our good. Change takes us on a unique journey that transforms us into who we will become. Change guided by an inflection point is an opportunity for you to become a better version of yourself.
The pull to go back to normal or what has been comfortable is a feeling that most of us experience but we also have the choice of believing that there is so much more out there to be explored. There are new possibilities and dreams that we can now pursue in the world that change has created for us.
Looking back at the disappointments that come in life I am now grateful for those moments that gave me the push I needed to improve my character and skills. Engaging in self reflection and gratitude are valuable exercises that we should build into the routine of our lives. While all of this might seem daunting, remember change starts with a small decision. Be encouraged that the biggest changes in your future only happen when you Start Now Start Simple.
Dan Ram ignites the stage as an in-person event and virtual event MC/ Moderator & Speaker at over 100 events a year. He has shared the stage with international luminaries including President Barack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, Reid Hoffman, Nico Rosberg, and Grammy-winning artists and celebrities. He has also been recognized as a Top 40 under 40 leader 2020 as well as a Top 100 Yale Alumni in Technology 2021. He has dedicated 2023 to providing resources and coaching 500 international dreamers who are dedicated to launching new initiatives. His passion is to inspire people with his motto ‘Start Now Start Simple’ in building a future we all want to live in. If you you are launching something new this year join #The500Club to receive resources and coaching from Dan!