Conquer Your Fears – Blog post by Erinne Perry, MBA Finacial Services , Class of 2015
There’s a Japanese proverb that states, “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” This past weekend on the first ever MCNY Alumni trip to the lovely island of Trinidad & Tobago, through a simple encounter in a body of water, I saw the value in learning to “Conquer my Fears.”
Without a doubt, fear can be a great thing; its purpose is to promote survival, but in all reality what’s the point in being alive if you’re so focused on surviving that you never thrive? Fear is an emotion experienced by not only humans, but animals as well, guiding us to adapt, adjust, and take action in the face of the unknown. For many years and in many situations, fear has been an enemy of mine, but I’ve come to realize once overcome, on the other side of the unknown, there are often many amazing things to experience.
On Thursday morning, April 26, Dr. Tilokie Depoo, Chief Academic Officer and Dean of the School for Business, four other alumni and I boarded Jet Blue airlines in route to Port of Spain. After a 5-hour ride, traveling mercies was our portion, and we landed safely after 4 p.m. Despite an extremely long process at customs, it was great to arrive finally, and given the crazy weather New York has been experiencing, it was a blessing to be in the sun!
For our 3-night stay, we checked in to one of the most beautiful hotels Trinidad has to offer, the Hyatt Regency. My roommate and I were lucky enough to get a room with an amazing view of the ocean thanks to Richard, the ever so kind front desk receptionist who greeted us with a warm smile and complimentary drinks upon arrival.
The first evening, we gathered in the conference room to meet the other fellow alumni. It was a pleasure to connect with others who much like myself, started and successfully completed the MBA program at MCNY. We all shared our names, our profession and a bit about ourselves over some bake and shark, a signature Trinidadian meal. Some of the fellow alumni who flew in early were able to enjoy the day at the Maracas beach, and for those of us who came in late, we wanted nothing more than to hit the sack. So after dinner, most of us relaxed for the rest of the evening in preparation for the next day.
Included in our stay was a buffet style breakfast so every morning we woke up to a range of options; there isn’t a morning I wasn’t satisfied! After a hearty meal the first morning there, we had a special brunch in the hotel’s conference room. We were able to meet Minister and Member of Parliament, Gangha Singh & Matthew Ciesiwlaki of the US Embassy TT Parliament. They both talked about their previous roles in various places of the world and their current and future endeavors in the lovely island of Trinidad. They often say you can’t mix business and pleasure; however, I disagree; after the good food and conversation, the fun began! Dr. Depoo sponsored a tour bus ride for us to explore the city and even though we were thousands of miles away, it felt like I was back in New York given the mass amount of traffic!
On the bus tour, we traveled through Port of Spain. We were able to see the local library, Stollmeyer’s castle, the Savannah, and so much more. Our final destination was on top of a hill Fort George, which afforded us a panoramic view of the city. We overlooked the beautiful city, took pictures and videos like the tourists we were and enjoyed the company of one another. Later that evening, we dined at one of the famous local restaurants, Jenny’s on the Boulevard that serves Trinidadian style Chinese Food. We were VIP for the evening and had a private section on the lower level. Our group style dinner included fried and stew chicken, curry shrimp, sliced beef, fried pork, lamb chops, squid, steamed and fried dumplings, fried rice, Singapore noodles and Lo Mein. For those of us who like spicy food, we got a taste of “mother-in-law,” a really spicy salsa mix served as a condiment. There was so much to eat there were enough leftovers for me to take back to the hotel for the next day! Some of us wrapped up the evening by heading to Club Siam, a cigar lounge/club. Drained from the day, my roommate and I headed back to the hotel to enjoy club Bed.
Day three of our trip, April 28, 2018, marked the 2-year anniversary of my mother’s death. I woke up not too sure how I felt, nonetheless, if there’s one thing I learned about life, one must keep going despite what’s going on internally and externally; my personal life quote, “calmness no matter the calamity.” Despite what the day reminded me of, I set out to make it a good one. On the agenda for the day, we chartered a yacht to head to Monos Island where we would enjoy food, the sun, the ocean and good vibes. In total, 16 fellow alumni including Dr. Depoo and myself boarded the bus around 11 am to head to the Grand Elixir, to set sail. This trip was my first time meeting most of the alumni, and Irma Gibbs, or as I’ll always remember her, “Ms. Conquer your fears” was one of them.
When we reached our final destination, it wasn’t anything like I expected. In my mind, I imagined we’d be heading to an island, like a mini beach, where we’d be able to walk barefoot on the sand, and those of us who wanted to swim could gradually make our way into the water. When the boat docked, we were surrounded by nothing but water. There were other boats in the distance and where the small bit of land and sand was, another boat already claimed that space as theirs for the day.
Any time I encounter a body of water, it reminds me of the day before my 17th birthday. A group of friends and I went to the beach, but not all of us made it home; my friend and former basketball teammate, Tiara Coaxum drowned. Before we got on the boat, it jogged my memory to that day, and as we sailed, I observed the water, sharing my thoughts with no one other than my journal. Before we got to the island, I planned to get into the water; however, when we reached our final destination, I had a change of mind. My thoughts went from getting in and enjoying the water, to a voice in the back of my mind saying, Erinne, you cannot swim…neither could Tiara.
Those who could swim stripped down and got in; a few even jumped off the edge of the boat into the water. I, on the other hand, sat on the stern and settled for getting my feet wet, taking in the sun for a mini tan. On board, there were life vests and swimming noodles, but even so, besides not wanting to get my hair wet, I had to face the fact that if both of these devices do not work as they should… I could not swim. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t swim, but apparently the only one so much in her thoughts, as those who didn’t know how just grabbed the life vest and noodle and got in. I just sat watching out as they enjoyed themselves.
We had lunch prepared and drinks for the trip, so we ate and relaxed, those who chose not to get in the water at all spent the day chatting and enjoying the scenery. Before we got ready to leave, we had our last chance to experience the water for another hour or so before we set sail to head back. Apart of me wanted to get in, but a part of me had a fear of losing the noodle and with no support to stay afloat, my first instinct would be to fight the water instead of remaining calm. The co-captains son, a local, familiar with the water served as our personal lifeguard. However much like they tell you in any form of danger where others are involved, save yourself first.
A few of the others encouraged me to get in, but nothing moved me as much as Irma Gibb’s simple four-word statement “I’m conquering my fears” as she got into the water. Irma herself couldn’t swim; nonetheless, she kept repeating the statement, and without her telling me directly, she encouraged me to do the same. In basketball, they say you miss 100% of the shots you never take. In this case, if I didn’t get out of the water, I’d never know what it was like to experience the water. I contemplated my odds of drowning, grabbed my noodle, mentally told myself I would not let this thing go and decided to be like Irma and conquer my fears!
Guess what, I got in the water, and the fact that I’m writing this article means I didn’t drown! I once hosted a workshop at my alma mater High School, Thomas A. Edison, where I spoke to a group of 12th-grade students about my journey as a social entrepreneur. During Q&A, one of the students asked, “What’s the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?” and without thinking, my response was “support.” As much as the noodle gave me support to stay afloat, the encouragement of those around me prompted me to get in the water.
Much like this big body of water, starting the MBA program was a fear I had to overcome. Fear of being able to finish the program, fear of how I would be able to afford the program. Nonetheless, with the support of friends and family, I made the decision to conquer my fear and even though there were times I felt like I was going to drown, much like this past weekend, I made it out alive and now I’m able to tell the story!
Thank you MCNY, and a special shout-out to School for Business Alumni President Amanda Rosado and all others who contributed to putting the trip together. I’m looking forward to the next trip!