Do The Hardest Thing

I’ve programmed myself to do the hardest things in life, but they’ve also brought me the greatest joy! After dropping out of my first computer science class, I forced myself to take summer school, and take the class again. When most were dropping out of engineering school, I convinced myself into double majoring in electrical engineering and computer science with just two years before graduation. I’ve programmed myself to do the hardest things in life, but they’ve also brought me the greatest joy!

By Poornima Vijayashanker (Founder & CEO, Femgineer)

It’s no wonder I got a 19 on my first computer science midterm, I didn’t learn the greedy algorithm!

Instead of doing what’s easiest – that will bring me the maximum benefit – I always chose to pursue the hard path. After dropping out of my first computer science class, I forced myself to take summer school, and take the class again. When most were dropping out of engineering school, I convinced myself into double majoring in electrical engineering and computer science with just two years before graduation. I had to persuade the dean that I’d be OK signing up for long hours of doing problem sets and coding while my peers enjoyed basketball games and beer pong. I didn’t tell her that I’d also be taking on two TA positions and a RA position.

College is expensive! Well, all that hard work paid off and got me to the place I always dreamed of living in California! 300 days of sunshine, which came with at steep price, but even my entry level engineering salary gave me a comfortable lifestyle. I even got invited to serve on Duke’s engineering advisory board!

I once overheard my dad tell a friend of his: “My daughter is a war monger. While most people enjoy peace time in the form of a comfortable job, she has to go out and do startup after startup, with no break in between!”

Why do I do this to myself? Truthfully, because I’m a little naive… I came to the US when I was two. My parents didn’t have a green card at the time, so the only way they could make money was to have my mom wake up at 5am to clean houses, while my dad went to engineering school. I was there to experience the trips to the Goodwill store, I lived with my family in one room for four years, and I walked around saying things like: “When my daddy gets a job…”

All that hardship instilled an immigrant work ethic and endless drive in me. Rejection, disappointment, failure, and resiliency are easy to handle. I suck at leading a secure and stable lifestyle. Sometimes I feel like I might be missing out on things that are conventionally accepted, but I just cannot change who I am and stop being driven to achieve the goals I set for myself early in life.

Some other hard things I enjoy doing:

– Bikram yoga.
– Running half marathons.
– Living a minimalist lifestyle.
– Making my own healthy food as much as possible.
– Being compassionately confrontational.

I’ve programmed myself to do the hardest things in life, but they’ve also brought me the greatest joy!

This post was originally posted at Femgineer.