Michelle Sie Whitten: Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Loyal Friend, Confidant, The “Go-to,” The “Fixer,” Boss, Colleague, Workaholic, Party Planner, Organizer, Worrier, “Principessa” to Her Italian Grandfather, Michelob to Her Big Bro, and Chicken Butt (only to her 9-year-old son and in context of his never ending “Guess What? You’re a…”
What have you overcome? The hardest thing I have overcome is my own anger, disdain and lack of tolerance for anyone I have perceived as discriminating against me or my family. It took me a very long time to either forgive or not get too bothered by people who didn’t believe in my parents’ interracial marriage, in me, my four siblings, or my children—especially my child with Down syndrome.
I think being brought up strict and hardworking by immigrant parents was the beginning of my “endurance.” Then throughout my career in the cable TV industry in China I had many challenges and tests. I worked hard, perhaps too hard, and never gave up. But, it wasn’t until I got the prenatal diagnosis indicating my daughter would have Down syndrome that I felt my ability to endure was actually being well spent. Suddenly working hard, taking on that marathon for her, for people with Down syndrome—it all made perfect sense. It was what I was meant to do.
Today, running the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, I can work as hard as I ever did but feel much more rewarded knowing we are improving people’s lives. At the same time my daughter has taught me how to be in the present versus at a future point of achievement, and how to enjoy every accomplishment and to see accomplishment where perhaps I saw none before.
For more of Michelle Sie Whitten, and the many faces of perseverance order your copy The Overcoming Issue here.