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What Tiger Taught Me


Success starts by being true to yourself.

A dear friend gave me a call a couple weeks ago. He was ashamed of attending medical school in the Caribbean because of the subsequent social stigma he'd have to carry from his family, peers, and community.

My friend happens to be South Asian. As an Indo-American born and raised in this country, I can say with certainty that, in general, we're pigeonholed into becoming doctors or engineers early in our lives by our parents. There aren't many other options.

When I was deciding which colleges to apply to and what subjects to study, I went through a similar crisis.

I applied to Syracuse University because of its top broadcast journalism program. It was never easy for me to explain to those within my society why I was studying this and what I wanted to do with my life, and it still isn't.

Anytime you look different from the others in the same room, people will be inquisitive. When I first showed an interest in journalism as a high school student, my dad tried to talk me out of it. Everyone in our family was a doctor or engineer. My brainy older brother, whose footsteps I was supposed to follow, was on track to receive a chemical engineering degree at Cornell.

I applied early decision to Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. Even after I was rejected, I never lost faith in myself. It was my mission to make them regret their choice.

Today, I've found a certain level of pleasure in my own life. I study and pursue subjects and ventures I love.

Nonetheless, I still get numerous eye-rolls and off-the-cuff comments about my passions from my own people. I take a lot of heat for what I do, but I've never let it bother me. I've always done my own thing, and everyone should do the same.

Once aspiring to become a sportscaster, I've veered away from that path, but I still thoroughly enjoy writing and reporting for print and broadcast media.

Tiger Woods has dominated a sport historically dominated by white males for more than 400 years. Nobody in golf has ever looked like Woods, and that's why he's inspired the entire world and given everyone some reason for hope. He single-handedly attracted blacks, Asians, women, and children to the game.

Growing up, Woods was called every racial epithet in the dictionary and suffered a racial assault his first day of school. However, he never lost his poise.

To say Woods sailed his way to stardom is highly inaccurate. He once said, "One of the things that my parents have taught me is never listen to other people's expectations. You should live your own life and live up to your own expectations, and those are the only things I really care about."

I don't judge people on their ethnicity, where they go to school, or what they do for a living. Too many people are worried about what others think of their every move. If you always play to answer your critics, you'll always be sadly disappointed because there are always more right around the corner.

I told my friend that if he really wants to become a doctor, then he should go to the Caribbean and follow his dream. He shouldn't question himself for a single second.

In life, we're going to find ourselves alone many times. The haters are going to be out there. But you should always believe in yourself, stay confident, and not let your guard down. Only then will you find yourself closer to the pursuit of happiness.
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