If you find yourself in a rut and thinking you don’t have any opportunities to better your life, take the time to talk to someone who has immigrated to the United States. This is exactly where I found myself during my early thirties.
I was great at what I did, had a great reputation, but I was unhappy. I was caught in a rut and didn’t know how to get out of it.
As my anxiety and frustration grew, I found myself lost and losing motivation until the day I asked one of my customers how he ended up in Washington from Ukraine.
His story made me take another look at myself and opened my eyes to the freedoms and endless opportunities I have available to me as an American citizen.
Since that day I have been asking people to tell me their stories about coming to the U.S. Out of all of these stories one thing is clear. When you remove the country of origin, ethnicity and skin color, the stories are the same. They are escaping war, religious persecution, ethnic persecution, violence, poverty, famine, limited opportunities, and are looking for a better way of life. Some of these people have been shot and left for dead while others had to leave everything behind to escape with their lives.
When I turned the tables and took a look at my own family, some of the stories I heard were a carbon copy of how my family ended up in the United States. There have been many times in my life where I have found myself with no excuses and forced to light a fire under my rear, and this was no exception. Whether these people found jobs or started their own businesses, they knew they came to a place that could afford them a much better life and they were grateful for it. They took pride in what they did and they had choices in their life.
With no more excuses and a dose of humility, I became inspired to change my way of thinking and explore the opportunities that I always thought were out of my reach.
As I started this new journey, I reflected back on one particular story from a gentleman who would mix mud and straw together to make and sell bricks when there were no jobs available in his country. At the time he told me this he was in his second year running his own cleaning company, something that he would never have been able to do back in his country.
This helped me stay grounded while I started writing down business ideas and formulating business plans. I went through notebook after notebook until it clicked. Inspired by the stories of immigrants and my community, the business plan for Blend Wine Shop in Key Center was born. After years of success with the shop, I was able to sell the business and move on to the next stage of my life. The business continues to thrive and serve as a community hub.
Since then the next phase of my life has turned into stages of revisiting past professions to taking on new challenges outside my comfort zone. These new challenges have been made minimal with the knowledge of what so many people are willing to risk for the chance at a better life.
Thank you to the immigrants who shared their stories with me, because these stories not only opened my eyes to the opportunities and the freedoms that I have taken for granted. I reached a new level of compassion for my fellow human beings.
Jeff Minch lives near Minter Creek.
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