• Ali Assareh

Think beyond overcoming.

“As a [first]-generation [Immigrant]-American [person] from a family in which a [high school] degree was a dream, I am so honored to do [X].”


I have written sentences like this.


You may have, too.


But now that I’m older, I see some problems with this form of presenting yourself.


1. The mere fact of overcoming challenges, though interesting & heroic, doesn’t say much about who YOU are. The more interesting stories are about *how* overcoming challenges changed *you* as a person. Every single person has had personal demons & challenges. We all overcome challenges; that’s life.


2. To me, the main purpose of language, and communication, is to bring us closer. Leading with a lot of descriptions of difference, without building a common ground first, may close the door of connection before it’s even opened.


3. Too many essays I receive for a position or scholarship start this way. It’s now a mold. Speak your truth. Lead.


The most impactful essays & stories are those that grab you first; draw you in; and only THEN illuminate you that achievements were made in spite of enormous odds & challenges.


Lead with positivity, and love, and YOUR story.


Think beyond overcoming.




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