Mindfully Owning Your Story: Embracing Setbacks and Finding Opportunities

May 31, 2023

I am Lela Precious Dolo, a young Liberian medical student passionate about creating positive changes in my society. I hold a BSc. Degree in Biology and Chemistry from Stella Maris Polytechnic University-Liberia and a Health and Cultural Exchange certificate from the OST-University and Linth Hospital-Switzerland.

Over the years, I have raised funds for and implemented several impact-driven projects in and around my community, including capacity-building workshops for youth and food distribution to less fortunate families during COVID-19. In 2021, I initiated a project called “Help a Mother and Newborn in Liberia,” geared towards addressing challenges faced in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in Liberia.  In addition to managing this great project and being a medical student, I am using my skills and expertise to raise awareness of mental health issues, fight stigma, and advocate for improved services as a mental health champion for The Carter Center mental health program in Liberia.

In life, we all have a calling and a purpose of life. Mine is service to others through creating change and expressing humanity.

This story took place in Liberia

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As I reflect on my journey, I realize that the setbacks and unexpected turns I’ve faced were not just obstacles, but a part of God’s plan to shape me into the person I am today. From being a shy high school student to redefining my life during the Ebola crisis, launching a campaign to provide food during the COVID-19 pandemic, and eventually entering medical school after failing the first entrance exam and using that undefined year to build my capacity and develop myself through internship opportunities, I’ve learned to embrace every experience and find opportunities in every challenge.

In high school, I was incredibly shy and didn’t participate in many extracurricular activities. When the Ebola crisis hit, we were forced to stay at home for over six months, and as seniors, we were not promoted like the other grades. However, I decided to use the extra time to attend leadership and technology classes at the YMCA, which helped me to improve my skills and mindset.

This experience opened my eyes to the power of a growth mindset, and I entered university with the determination to participate in various youth leadership development programs, including AIESEC. However, just as I was about to graduate, the COVID-19 outbreak hit, and my graduation was postponed indefinitely. While I felt unlucky and devastated, I decided to turn this setback into an opportunity to create impact. I launched a campaign to provide food to those in need in my community, which helped over 100 families during the lockdown and gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Despite this success, I faced another setback when I failed the entrance exam for medical school after graduating from University. It was my first major failure, and I could have given up on my dream of becoming a doctor, but I chose to view it as a lesson and an opportunity to build my capacity. I applied for different internship opportunities and eventually got accepted for a fully funded health-related internship in Switzerland. This experience gave birth to my project, “Help a Mother and Newborn in Liberia,” which is making a significant impact in the lives of women, babies, and young adolescents.

Through all of these experiences, I’ve learned that there is power in mindfully owning your experiences and that it’s not just about the successes – it’s about owning your entire story, both the good and the bad. By accepting all of who I am, flaws and all, I’ve gained control over my life and become more self-aware. Defining my failures as empowering lessons has shaped me into the person I am today.

By owning my story, I’ve been able to inspire others with shared experiences and build connections through our shared struggles. Loving my story has given me the power to shape it and take control of my life. It’s far from perfect, but it has been an amazing teacher that has brought me to where I am today. To anyone reading this, I encourage you to love your story, whether it’s messy or clean. Embrace all of who you are, flaws and all, because it’s your story that has brought you to where you are today and will take you to where you’ll be tomorrow. Mindfully owning your story can lead you to find opportunities in every experience and embrace your true self.

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