My first year in the United States sucked. I cried a lot. I felt stuck and lost. During that time, I made two major mindset mistakes and missed many opportunities in my relationships and career. I hope this post will help you to learn more about these mistakes and how to avoid making them.
#1: I can do it alone
Are you an independent person, who prefers to get things done alone? Are you uncomfortable asking for help? I certainly was. I suffered from “I can do it alone” mindset. It is when we prefer to rely only on ourselves to get things done and would rather not to ask for help, even when we really need it.
Impacts of my old mindset.
- Lost time. During my first year in the U.S. I faced many challenges that neither I or my spouse knew how to deal with, but I did not ask for help. At that time, I was ashamed of not knowing what to do. I was certain, I was the only senseless immigrant struggling. In some case, due to my old mindset, I lost weeks of time. For example, during time when i had to complete my immigration forms
- Because of my poor English, I could not understand most questions on the forms. Instead of asking my spouse for help i tried to do it alone. I lost several weeks of precious time by filling forms incorrectly over and over. Eventually, I asked my spouse to help me to complete the forms, which took him just a few hours.
- Lost opportunities. I learned mostly by making countless mistakes. For example, my career choices. While at Community College I had access to academic and career advisers, but I did not want to ask for help. I felt bad about seeking support or asking for advice.Instead, I lost years in low-paying jobs, struggling to figure out my next career move. Of course, years later, I secured great jobs, but I lost many years of income because I refused to ask for guidance in the beginning.
New Mindset: Ask for Help Early
First, contrary to what you may believe, most people will be delighted to help you. Second, thousands of people before you walked in your shoes and invented a solution, so you don’t need to do it. Avoid my mistake, ask for help and do it early.
- Make new friends
- Find a Transition Coach
- Look for an experienced immigrant, someone you would like to work with
- Ask the person to become your coach
- Ask your coach to serve as a sounding board, to listen, to offer concrete advice and guide you to overcome specific challenges
- Leverage College Resources
- Get admitted to any college near you (Use Google to search)
- Get Student ID #, and receive access to Free Academic and Career Services
- Meet with an adviser to get support on specific topics you struggle with
#2: I must be perfect
After I immigrated, Just like many others, I did not know what to do. It was uncomfortable. I felt i was not enough and I was embarrassed of my messy life. I did not accept the fact that transitions are perfectly normal and expected after you immigrate 10,000 miles away and start to redesign your life from scratch.
That said, my plan was to become perfect and get my life in order, before forming new relationships. First, I wanted to get my immigration status finalized, receive my social security card, get a job, learn how to drive, get my driver license, stop feeling depressed, and so on before I could go out there and make new friends.
Impacts of my old mindset.
- Depression. My perfection addiction literally nearly killed me. I suffered from a deep, untreated and chronic depression. I started a war against myself, my aim was to become perfect and fit in. This led to a chronic sadness since the goal was imaginary and not attainable.
- Low-self-esteem. My mindset affected my ability to take on new opportunities, to ask for what I was worth and to stand up for myself in tough situations. I felt I deserved being treated badly since my life was not in order.
- Poor English Skills. It seems every time I would speak in public, people would interrupt me and ask: “Where are you from?”. I remember dreading the conversation about my country of origin, answering questions I have answered hundreds of times before. Self-shaming held me back from speaking more and learning English faster.
New Mindset: You are enough.
No conditions. You are enough. Accept the fact that your life is imperfect. Praise yourself for taking chances and learning. Remember, you are an extraordinary person, who does something that very few people attempt – immigrating to America and starting to build their life from scratch. Be proud of who you are and where you are.
- Start a Journal, write down exactly what happens every day, let it out!
- Take a lot of pictures, share those with others, talk about your experience
- Tell your a story and brag about your day to day accomplishments
- Create a habit of celebrating little things, such as your social security card, 1st driving lesson, arrival date to the S., first out of town trip etc.
- Praise YOURSELF for every single accomplishment, however small it feels
- Find a group of friends, who will celebrate your accomplishments with you
Two main mistakes I made during my first year in America was believing I can do it alone and continue waiting to connect with others until I was perfect. Again, my goal today was to share my mistakes, so you can learn from them. Maybe you will recognize some of the same tendencies in yourself and TAKE Actions to change your mindset today.
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