When I was 14, I had trouble fitting in and felt there was no hope. And then everything changed …

Running in a race in Quebec in 1985

I remember when I was 14 years old and I used to get bullied and beat up by the kids at school or in the neighborhood. I couldn’t play sports very well, I didn’t fit in socially and had only a few friends I could count on. I had switched schools a couple of times and often came home crying. It was around this point that my parents sent me to a boarding school, where I would be immersed in an intensely social environment, sleeping in a dorm with eight other kids at night, doing sports after school, and mostly having no one to turn to but myself when I encountered problems.

Shortly after this, there was a moment in September 1992 when I was so scared of the people I had to face on a daily basis that I faked a severe ear infection to get into the school clinic and stayed there for 2-3 days to escape it all. In a moment of desperation and fear, I threatened to kill myself rather than be put back into the classroom. My parents, who knew me better than anyone, comforted me, but insisted that I would have to stand up for myself.

This was a turning point for me. Although I was never very physically strong, I spent several years learning to fight my own battles (mostly with words), becoming more confident in who I was as a person, and realizing I could only depend on myself to follow my own dreams and conquer my fears.

My family and friends have stood by me as I’ve grown up and have always urged me to constantly push the boundaries of my thinking through loving deeply, higher education, and world travel. And I learned to see those who challenged and confronted me as an inspiration to succeed, rather than an obstacle to success.

One bit of advice I have always tried to keep in mind and will for the future: DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL. Someone wise once said: “The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment.” For me that translates as trying to always live passionately and in the moment, being humble but proud of who I am, and learning from my mistakes.

Carpe Diem Friends!

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