by Paula Arturo
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
To anyone who knows me, the fact that I was a nerdy kid comes as no surprise. I’ve always been curious by the world and how it works. And not a day has gone by in my life in which I didn’t find myself fascinated by the complexity of even the simplest and most mundane of things. As a child, I remember wondering about every mechanism that made the world work and daydreaming about what my place would be in that mechanism. So, naturally, the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was not a simple one to answer.
I remember after seeing my first live production of “The Nutcracker Ballet” with my mom in California the answer to that question was, of course, a ballerina… until my parents signed me up for ballet lessons and it turned out I had two left feet. I also remember in elementary school when we learned about NASA and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, I was sure I’d grow up to be an astronaut… until it turned out you have to be crazy good at math to be an astronaut, and numbers, sadly, are not my friends.
But it wasn’t until we learned about Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights Movement that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to be a lawyer. And, this time, there was no “…until.” Getting a law degree became the single most important goal in my life; one I’d have to jump through many hoops to achieve. At age 15 my mom and I found ourselves all alone in a cold harsh world and I knew my path to becoming a lawyer would not be easy or straightforward. In fact, going to school was not a given for me. And, while my mom worked three jobs to support me, I worked full-time since age 15 to help pay for my education.
I remember the day I sat for my very last law school exam as if it was yesterday. It was International Law and the professor was not one I was particularly fond of. It was an oral exam and my professor drilled me for over an hour on every subject we’d learned that semester. When the test was finally over, he said, “Congratulations, colleague. Welcome to the profession.” And I broke into tears. To this day, I still get watery eyed just thinking about it. It was at that moment, when my humble little dream became a reality, that I realized I had defied some really bad odds. And I was grateful for every moment in my life, good and bad, that led up to that achievement.
I know that graduating law school is not a groundbreaking achievement. Millions of people graduate law school all over the world every day. In fact, working your way through law school isn’t such a big deal either. It’s a reality many of us face. But it was a big deal to me because the odds were so low that I’d be able to pull it off. So, this tiny little thing that I’ve achieved, which pales in comparison to what others have achieved in their lives, is huge from my perspective. It’s something I can be proud of because it was so unattainable to me back then. It might not be a great thing, but it’s a small thing I did in a great way, which naturally makes me think about others out there like me fighting hard to make their humble dreams come true.
Every Friday at the Biz Muses we have 2on1 sessions with language professionals who are trying to do their one, perhaps small thing, in a great way. We talk to people whose odds might be stacked against them. People whose dreams are impaired by buts and untils. Or people who simply need a little help making their dream a reality. And there’s nothing wrong with needing help! I had lots of help when I was in law school. My mom was always there for me and my friends always had my back. Because, let’s face it, nobody ever achieves anything, big or small, all alone in a vacuum.
So, here’s what the Biz Muses has going on to help you do your small thing in a great way:
1) Las Palmas Conference: Join us in Las Palmas for no-nonsense, no-stuffiness, workshop-based, hard-skills honing event where you can talk shop with like-minded professionals and learn from people who have achieved great things in the language profession.
2) August Love: August love was so successful we extended it until September 15th. With every website design or revamp, we’re throwing in a ready-to-rock landing page at no extra cost.
3) Free Coffee Hours: September is packed with great new guests. Join us for coffee and good conversation from the comfort of your own home or office. We’d love to hear from you!