Identity – Finding greatest source of power

Anda Gansca – Identity – Where to find the greatest source of power.

I have a lot of sources of inspiration and power. One of the biggest ones, that I often think about is just the sense of really strong cultural identity that I have. It does not matter where you are from and who your family is, as long as you feel like you have a core, that—or, like, roots set somewhere. Roots that will help you not lose yourself when the going gets tough, and you won’t be caught in the storm and just drift away.

To me, that is very important and it is a great source of my power. On top of that, something happened when I decided to leave my hometown, and again, it does not matter that it was in a different country, it is really just about leaving that one place that you are familiar with, that many people do not ever do in their lives. When you do that, there is kind of a black hole over your future because you can not imagine how anything else in the world might look like, and the notion of throwing yourself into something you cannot really understand, is, you know, it becomes familiar right away.

For me, that was when I left for University. I decided to apply to Universities abroad, out of, I am not really sure what, maybe out of a hunger or this notion of a mission that I could not fully fulfill back home. But, I wanted to leave, and so I applied to all these Universities and I eventually decided I was going to go to Stanford. And again, nothing would have been able to prepare me for what I had to face when I got there. I had different images of what it could be, but ultimately they were not realistic. And so I got to Stanford, and, you know, people say it is the most beautiful University, and the people are so friendly there, and, to me, it was the most adverse environment ever, to me, it was about survival because it was so foreign.

I remember I walked into the room in my freshman dorm, and I had three roommates, all American girls, and they all had their desks set up by the time I got there. And my desk was empty and their desks were around the walls, and they had so many things, I mean, so many gadgets that I do not know what they had, like, make the air more humid, or I do not know so many crazy things that I had never heard of, coming from Romania. And I just felt so left out, and I remember for a long time, the only thing I had was a lamp and a bunch of books. It was a very interesting process of me becoming more accustomed to what Silicon Valley Stanford was.

And again, coming back to the roots, that I still kept my identity, just made me stronger and it gave me this overall perspective over the US and Romania, and later Russia, where I went to live for a year. And it just taught me how to think of people in a greater context as an international citizen. And so, what I took from that was this ability to be naive enough to throw myself into black holes, and understand it by losing that power or naivety. I am never going to go for big opportunities because, sincerely, like the pain you go through, to—once you jump into the black hole, was almost always far too great. Though, you know, if you do an expected value at the beginning, you end up actually doing it. And so, the ability to throw myself into the black hole and then always remember where I come from, what my identity is, so as not to lose myself in the process of transitioning through it, and then emerging at the other end as, you know, a stronger person.