Ignore the noise

11390241_10155568402070487_5196590326511457667_nRené, a talented 29 year old, stared a successful company based in Trinidad’s creative industry, called Lab206 Studio​ . Growing up as an only child, he moved around a lot; living in 6 places. He came from a middle-class background, and though he had a comfortable childhood, he was very aware of his family’s economic status since many of his peers at school were better off than he was. Speaking of his younger days, he said he always felt like an outsider, “The only person I related too in my immediate family was my dad, we are very close and he has been the most supportive in my life to this day, I was his shadow for a long time and I think he’s one of the reasons I keep doing what I do. He had his own business while I was growing up and it ended financially bad, to the point where we almost had to start over. Seeing him go through that made me understand him on a different level, and it probably coloured my view on people and things up to this day. “

However, seeing his father’s struggles and victories in business also has helped prepare him for dealing with the stresses of running a successful company of his own. “Defeated is a strong word but if I was to be honest, discouragement and anxiety comes often, mostly from myself. This company on some days is the most draining thing I have ever had to deal with and my life has become so intertwined to it that it’s hard to separate the two. The mental toll can be a lot but at the same time it helps me focus on what it is I’m doing, not for myself, but knowing that what I’m doing is for my 8, and growing, staff members and their betterment. Recently we won a grant to produce a product for an idea we’ve been sitting on for two years and on some level there is a sense of validation that comes with it, but small victories are won every day that change my perspective when it comes to me and my business, from winning another account to seeing a client happy with our work, to planning a process and seeing my company grow and the people in it fulfilling some accomplishment they had for themselves. In the future I see my company, Lab 206, as a big creative campus on the level of Dreamworks/ Pixar/ Google, creating apps, games, Caribbean content, just being able to give a lot of kids the kind of opportunities I find myself fighting for nowadays… and me just walking amongst them and hearing their stories and ideas and trying to figure out ways to make it come to life. Then theres the other side of that where I kinda want a simpler life, owning a small family restaurant, outdoorsy, lots of vines growing all over the place, like a garden restaurant with 3 kids.”

Advice he’d give to others on moving forward to making their dreams come true, “Have a big picture approach to things: that despite the hiccup in the road here, the destination where you are heading is much brighter so stay focused on that. Ignore the noise; the noise being anything that deflects from your current path. Have a goal in mind and work arduously towards achieving that, draw on the support from the people around you. Follow your passion, which doesn’t always mean that your passion has to be your job, but have a passion in your life and hold onto that.”

The universe is not your enemy

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Anastasia, 26, is an adventurous, fun and kind person. She has wonderful dreams for herself and for others, and sees herself making a great difference in the world. She’s lived and taught in Japan, completed her MA in the UK, and there’s no doubt that she already has, and someday will, touch even more lives. She told me, “It’s only recently that I defined what I want to do. I would sincerely like to pursue a career in Education for Sustainable Development. Working for the United Nations is my end goal. For me, their work is extremely inspiring and I strongly empathise with their charter. I believe that teaching is the noblest of professions, but also the most important. It’s nurturing the seeds that will grow into the Earth’s future. I aspire to create opportunities for all in this regard, especially children, to help them have access to quality education. I have two role models that have greatly influenced how I live, and their words always stick with me throughout: “Hasta la victoria siempre” [Always towards victory], Che Guevara; and “Be the change you want to see in the world”, Mahatma Gandhi. My vision, as cliché as it sounds, is to make the world a better place, no matter how small. I also have other dreams, like travelling around the world and petitioning people to close down all zoos worldwide; spending some time with indigenous tribes, experiencing their way of life… then of course there is that personal side where I would like to be happily married to the love of my life and experiencing all these things with him too.” As it happens though, despite all her great dreams and plans for herself, moving forward has been a challenge. “I’m actually going through a difficult time right now. I’ve had an ongoing bout of depression and insomnia, say about a year and a half now. I’ve recently completed my MA, and I had blind hope that pursuing postgraduate studies would help me get a good job, but to date I’ve been rejected from more than one hundred posts I applied for and I went from a happy-go-lucky person to a pessimist quite quickly. No matter how hard I try, for some reason my dreams seem to be slipping out of my hands. Dramatic, I know- but that’s what it feels like”. What’s really beautiful about her story though is her perseverance even when she feels bogged down. She continued, “For me, giving up isn’t an option. It’s engraved into my very being and I have wonderful friends who encourage me and help me through. Even though I don’t feel 100% roughly 90% of the time recently, I do not intend on giving up. If anything, it makes me really reflect on the kind of person I am and where I want to be, and it drives me to push myself harder – as long as I’m able to find a little ounce of motivation, I’ll do my best towards a dream. I would say that… no matter how difficult a time you may be going through, confiding in someone is important. Sometimes you may not want to bother others with thoughts that might seem trivial, but deeply affect you. But sometimes it’s dangerous to be alone with those thoughts. Secondly, try your hardest to believe, and to not give up. The universe is not your enemy. “ 🙂