the story of a { beginning }

Photo of Nathan Chow

I wanted to be a bunny when I grew up.

That was my dream as a kid—and I was reminded of it recently as I read and sorted through dusty bags of preschool papers in my basement.

I don’t remember if it was a joke or a creative assignment, but of course through the years, I had some better sense.

I soon wanted to be a police officer and begged my parents to buy every cop kit available.

Then I wanted to be a writer as I stapled stacks of paper together and published books that only my stuffed animals would read.

Then I wanted to be a geography teacher when I was fascinated with the idea of teaching—the idea that every day I came home from school, I was a smarter and more developed person. I was obsessed with the idea that a teacher—one person in a world of billions—could guide me through a huge web of knowledge and help me discover not only myself but also the world.

I, too, wanted to make such a difference. Every night, I would imitate my teachers and teach world capitals to my students: my stuffed animals seated in perfectly aligned empty tissue boxes. Sometimes I wouldn’t even allow them to use the bathroom until they answered a question correctly.

Of course, in my imagination, the bunny was the smartest and was my favorite student—and he never seemed to need the bathroom anyway. (The bears got very jealous.)

chapter 2: the story of a { writer }

Maybe it’s because of my naturally introspective and quiet demeanor, but as the years unfolded, I developed an interest in expressing myself through writing and media arts.

Although I was talented in math (surprise: I’m Asian), earned the highest grades, and enjoyed the challenge of a good word problem, I knew my passion for communications and the arts could not be denied. To me, writing—and art—was more than a personal way of expression and reflection. It was my special way of reaching out to a world that rarely listened.

But two things stood in my way: 1) my difficulty learning English and 2) this stereotype, this stigma, of my being “just” a Chinese boy who had potential in math and science but who would never be destined to thrive in language arts. I was in ESL and Speech Therapy classes for half a decade, but I yearned to make English one of my strengths. I remember in first grade, I was confused that I always wrote longer and more complex stories than my friends but that I had ESL class once a week and a more limited vocabulary.

Resolving to always be at my personal best and to never let anyone decide who I am or what I could do, I still chose to pursue writing on my own all throughout K-6, then middle school, then high school—all out of pure enjoyment. My English teachers deserve credit for making storytelling so interesting and inspiring me to toy with writing, but it was what I did outside of school on my own that made me grow. I read books in bed with a flashlight until sunrise on many nights (as my dad yelled at me for staying up so late) and I wrote piles of little homemade books by imitating my favorite authors (as my mom yelled at me for using up all the staples). Years later, my dedication finally paid off:

By the end of high school, I won many English awards and also enjoyed great success in my introductory Video Production class when I won my school’s very first Best Scriptwriting Award. In college, I was one of four out of 400 freshman communication students chosen to read their short memoir at a special event. And this was all coming from a former ESL and Speech Therapy student.

Many of my teachers really believed in me, and I sincerely thank them for it and for noticing me. My series of achievements not only fueled my confidence in being able to do anything I wanted in life and flip anything around, but it also rekindled my faith in the power of teachers—the belief that one teacher, one coach, one person can make all the difference in my life.

And again: I, too, wanted to make such a difference.

chapter 3: the story of a { student }

After high school, I chose to attend Boston University’s renowned College of Communication (COM), one of the best in the country.

I moved from my suburban town in New Jersey to the “Hub of the Universe,” from my relatively poor, crime-ridden, and underprivileged public high school to a private and mostly affluent university.

Things were very different at BU, but it turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more. I quickly grew accustomed to the hustle and bustle of city-life and somehow still managed to keep a calm and slow-paced lifestyle.

Academically, I had formal training in filmmaking, pursued a minor in psychology, and took a considerable number of courses in both philosophy and education. Living up to its reputation for creating great writers, COM helped me hone and polish my writing style.

Courses in filmmaking inspired me to write about and reveal life as it is and emotions as they are. Psychology taught me why people behave the way they do and how I could use this knowledge to improve the human condition. Philosophy pushed me to question the world and pinpoint what really matters in our short time on earth. And courses in education reminded me of the importance and significance of youth development and that if I want the world to be a certain way, I must teach it to our future leaders.

But while I learned a lot in the classroom, I learned infinitely more outside of it. BU provided me with enough opportunities to develop my leadership skills in student activities, to interact with some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life, and to care more about the world at-large.

In high school I was always a shielded, super shy, and overprotected academic hard worker—sometimes to an unhealthy level. I never spent time with friends outside school. And I was miserable for thinking that happiness could be found from just chasing success and getting good grades. At the end of four years, I graduated third in my class but was not happy. These were things I wanted to change. And these were also things I knew I had the power to change. I wanted to turn my life around again.

In college, I became a people person and a smart and balanced worker. From shy boy to social leader, I became known as the person who was friends with everyone (at America’s fourth largest private university!). I spent just as much time with people and relaxing on my own than I did with schoolwork. Some of my grades were not as pretty as I would have liked, but that didn’t matter. I learned to enjoy the moment more, to see the value of in-depth relationships with people, and to live my life with more meaning. These lessons were infinitely more rewarding than any of my achievements in high school.

To me, college was less about learning information and more about experiencing transformation.

chapter 4: the story of a { career }

Over the course of my life, I’ve wanted to be a bunny, a police officer, a geography teacher, a writer, a coach, a therapist, a consultant, a film director, and even a clown and juggler.

With an unusual range of interests, I’ve always wondered what my career path would look like.

I’ve settled on using teaching, coaching, and consulting—whether in the classroom with teens, in corporate trainings with executives, or in one-on-one meetings with individuals—as ways to understand and improve the human condition. I believe these are the best outlets for unlocking, developing, and maximizing everyone’s full human potential. I strive to help everyone see how much they can grow, change, and be happier.

As for art, I’ve settled on using my writing, photography, and media to get a mass audience to relate to the most realistic and emotionally raw experiences. I seek to provide a means with which people can understand an emotion, connect to one another, feel empowered, and be inspired.

And in everything I do, whether in my careers, my gigs, or everyday responsibilities, I aim to shape a more loving, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and connected world—because life is too short for anything that even remotely resembles the ugly opposites. I will teach this as the most important lesson, I will show the importance of this in all my art, and I will live by this every moment of my life.

In a special, personal way, all of the above are my gifts to the world. They are not only what I do best (and enjoy most!) but also what I believe the world needs most from me.

These are my goals. These are my missions. This is my life.

chapter 5: the story of a { bunny }

Looking back at all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, I’ve since learned that perhaps I’ve always been everything I wanted to be.

Perhaps I’ve always been a police officer: someone who acts as a safe-haven, someone who protects people from danger—the danger of steering into destruction, distraught, and failure.

And perhaps I’ve always been a geography teacher as well: someone who teaches about the world, someone who believes in humanity, and someone who gives lessons on the universal themes of life.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve even been a bunny all along.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, I’m a rabbit, a sign known for creativity, compassion, sensitivity, peacefulness, and the stubborn belief that it’s always easy for people to get along with each other and to be better individuals.

I think I reached my childhood dream long ago.

I already am a bunny. I am, always was, and always will be.

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