I was raised in a humble home. “Don’t brag about your things, money, accomplishments.” We were taught by our society back then that bragging is rude. That the only people you should really show your accomplishments are your parents so they can be proud of you.
Hold up, wait a minute, let me back up my story: I was born and raised in Negros Occidental, Philippines – City of Smiles. I was an only child for about 9 years. I attended a Chinese Christian School in Kindergarten which was where my leadership skills all began when I volunteered to be the captain of the cheerleaders. But learning Chinese was too difficult and so I was transferred to an all girls Catholic School, where (I swear) 75% of the students were over achievers in one way or another.
Parental background: So my father was never around because he was in the States working to provide for me and my mother. He would only come home on Christmas for about a month. The rest of the year, we would just communicate over the phone. He would send us boxes of American goods a few times every year.
My mom tried to put me in Piano school but I was having complications with catching my ride home that I decided not to continue. Pretty soon, after the age of 9, my younger sister was born and my mom decided to go abroad as well to help provide for us. My parents hired a nanny for my little sister and a cook/house cleaner. For a couple of years, they also tried to enlist extended family members to stay with us as a guardian but that never worked.
Finally around the age of 14, my mom entrusted me to take care of household matters. They sent me a monthly budget, my mom showed me how to keep an accounting book. That’s a big responsibility for me when I was a kid. I took the public transportation, go to the bank, withdraw money, go to the nearest currency exchange, pay the bills, pay the school tuition, pay the help, budget for groceries, etc… When I tell people this, they are amazed but to me, it was my normal.
Let’s talk about my school life. As I mentioned there were so many over achievers that I had to make sure I kept up. That school taught me how to be competitive. Even in my parents absence, I continued to be in the honor roll, continued to excel in school and take care of business. Why? well because friends closest to me were excellent. Someone was always better than me and I think deep inside, I wanted to beat them! Someone was always a more technical dancer than me, someone can play the piano better than me, someone had a better sticker collection than me, someone always got a higher grade than me, someone was a better artist than me, someone can act better than me. Golly! It was so hard to find a niche, where I can really be recognized for. So I kind of started to learn how to do a little bit of everything… I can dance, play the piano, draw, get good grades, read well, etc… If there was something I couldn’t do, I figured out a way to learn it. Totally opposite of what they say NOT to do: “Jack of all trades, Master of NONE.”
Finally at 17, my parents were able to legally migrate my sister and me to the States. I was sad because I wanted to grow up with my friends but I had to be an obedient child and do what the parents told me to do. So I moved to Seattle, which just happened to be where my parents lived. My parents enrolled me at a high school nearby and sooner than later, I swept the student of the month awards, I impressed many teachers and hopefully inspired many friends. I EXCELLED. And, in my opinion, the American School System is way too easy. I was a straight A student and a Dance Captain, Yearbook Staff, ASB Secretary and more all at once. I finally felt like all the work I did to try and learn different skills was recognized and it felt great! I was the go to person for a lot of things.
Fast forward to 2010, after getting laid off from Macys and finishing my contract with Expedia, I decided to move to Los Angeles without real concrete plan. Luckily, I had half siblings that allowed me to stay with them 2-3 weeks at a time. After 3 months or so, I finally found my own apartment. I spent most of my time on Craigslist looking for things to get myself involved in. Sure enough, I found plenty of events where I volunteered at and met so many great people that have hired me to do work for them. I also found a Hollywood comedian who was looking for an event planner. Needless to say, I hustled and made it all work out.
Now, my company Events in the City is growing rapidly even though I only spend part time on it. I am a full time Marketing Manager at a shopping center and I do an excellent work bringing unique events and marketing the shopping center.
I am deeply humbled by all my experiences, I feel like I came from nothing, migrated to the US and now on this journey to take over the world. This is why I love to help so many business owners and professionals, I want to teach them how to be resourceful, how to learn certain skills to get them through their start up phase, I want to teach them everything I know about marketing and event planning because I do not want to hear people say that they do not know how to make things happen. To every problem, there’s always a solution. I love the way I’ve encouraged people to think outside of the box, to solve their problems by first realizing what box they have put themselves in. As my family member say: “Sweeney will survive in any situation you throw her in.” And I truly accept that truth as a compliment. I love making people feel that there are more than one solutions to their problems. NOTHING is impossible with time. Everything takes time. Great things don’t happen overnight but horrible things can when you don’t believe in yourself.
There is nothing wrong with being a Jane of all Trades because I have mastered the skill of resourcefulness.
2 thoughts on “HOW MY CHILDHOOD SHAPED ME”
G’day Sweeney ,
You surely make us proud, you truly represent our race, kababayan with excellence. Thank you for paving the way for us and those that are coming our way, the Filipino American Sojourns.
Sa atin pag-babayanihan,Bayani, marami pong SALAMAT!!! (In our communal caring endeavor, tks for being a hero)