“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves.”
Ellen J. Langer, author of Mindfulness
I believe that we control our own lives and choose our path to fulfillment by helping others around us. My parents sacrificed their lives and chose to leave the life they knew to give the gift of opportunities for our family with the help of many people. The process of immigrating to the United States was not an easy one for the entire family because of the years of separation. My father came to the United States first then my mother joined him after a few years, then my sister and I followed after another 2 years. This period was an extremely difficult time in all our lives but it was a necessary sacrifice to achieve the vision my parents had for us. Most of my young childhood was spent living with aunts and uncles from house to house in the Philippines. As a young child I didn’t seem to notice all the different parental figures that came and went because everyone supported and shared the same vision and it seemed a natural way of the way things should be.
We finally reunited at the age of 7 and began our new journey in San Francisco. Here we spent several years living with other families who were once in the same situation as us and understood my parents’ mission. “Newcomer” was one of the first English words I learned which was used to describe me as my new teacher introduced me to the class. My goal was to assimilate and adapt—“to fit in.” This was very difficult because we didn’t have very much so naturally the most important things for me at the time such as having the latest fashion and materials were scarce. I didn’t take music lessons or any additional extra-curricular activities that required my parents to pay for lessons like my friends had and hardly did I ever invite friends over because I didn’t want anyone to know where we lived or how we lived. My parents did their best and I did my best to focus on my studies and maintain a level of standard that would make my family proud despite my social challenges. But then at the age of 14, my parents saved enough money to buy a home 20 minutes away from San Francisco in a city called San Pablo in a working class area. I wasn’t happy with this move especially after seeing the dilapidated house and the neighborhood. It wasn’t what I expected at all because it was small and it didn’t look like any of the neighborhoods my friends in San Francisco have lived in. It didn’t helped when kids in the new school would say they were in my neighborhood to deliver Thanksgiving baskets. Again, it was a tough new adjustment but I persevered and focused on my studies and graduated high school with honors. For a long time I refused to understand this move and it wasn’t until much later in my adult life that I understood what this house meant to my dad—to all of us.
The house was his gift to us, a home that is ours dedicated to our future filled with opportunities. The home became a symbol to all the possibilities and opportunities, the vision. We have arrived. With the support of our family back in the Philippines and the help of other families in the United States for allowing us to share their homes with us, my parents were able to save enough to buy their first home. My sister left for college and graduated and shortly thereafter, I too went away for college. My parents still live in San Pablo in the same house and my dad continues to make improvements to the house in his free time. No matter how much I have tried to get them to sell their home over the years, they have not. This house helped pay for my college education. It helped and accommodated friends and family coming over from the Philippines as well. It was now my parents turn to pay it forward and help others the way we have been helped. But most importantly this same house is where my children and nephews spend their time to visit with their grandma and grandpa.
My experiences as an immigrant and the values and beliefs my parents instilled in me growing up have become the core foundation of my business in helping others find their fulfillment. Real estate symbolizes different things to different people—whether it’s buying or selling. I invite you to share with me what real estate means to you and how it has changed your life the way it has changed mine.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and allowing me to share my story with you.
Noreleen Clarin de Mesa