Sidewalk Ghosts / Contributors Interview: “It’s OK To Be Terrible”

A Chat with Michael Furman in St. Petersburg, Russia—interview and photos by Heidi Liou

IMG_1439cc Operation-365 opens its doors to our first field ambassador, Heidi Liou. A person that I had the privilege of meeting face-to-face in March, thanks to her putting together a special program for the ethics department at Ohio State University; a program where I was honored to present a little talk that related to what we are doing at 365.

Heidi is ago getter type of individual, so to get the ball rolling in setting stage in inviting you to become 365 field ambassadors, we extended Hiedi a challenge to interview a stranger in her circle of strangers, an invitation that we extend to all you.

The reasoning? We all live in different places, under different circumstances and with different people. Quite simply, the more who contribute, the greater our global reach may become; that by listening to one another, we might grow united as a people; not only through our similarities, but more profoundly, through seeing our differences.

We look forward to receiving you interviews.

Operation-365… we were once “Strangers…” now we are “Friends.”

FROM HEIDI

Hello all!

 My name is Heidi Liou and for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been studying abroad in Russia. I don’t know much Russian (besides a few conversation phrases) so it was a challenge to navigate my way around the crowded cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to use enough welcoming hand gesture to make a few firm friendships here and have had multiple spontaneous conversations with locals that have made me think about the bigger picture of life.

Today I had the delightful pleasure of interviewing Michael Furman, an American living in St. Petersburg, Russia. Michael is native to New Orleans and developed a fond interest about Russian culture during his undergraduate studies. He is now fluent in Russian and is spending the year in Russia to work on his PhD dissertation in Slavic Linguistics. His colorful life experiences, such as having to literally rebuild his life due to Hurricane Katrina, has shaped his unique viewpoint on life and our conversation reflects positivity and hope for the future.

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– If you had the stage… the undivided attention of the world… and all were listening… What words of wisdom, council or advice would you share?

“Be terrible at life and be okay with it. If you are terrible at it, you are doing something new. If you know that being terrible is part of the process, then you can manage the situation better.
When people feel uncomfortable because they are failing at something, they panic. Instead, they should learn to be okay with it and appreciate it for what it is. It’s being in the moment but knowing you can look past that in order to continue without panicking. The uncomfortable feelings are just fleeting moments. You must acknowledge failure, not that initial reaction but the continued engagement as a process that allows you to get past that moment of failure. Beyond evaluation, it’s important to let that moment of failure just be.

There were times when I initially felt like a failure. I wasn’t getting grant money for my research and thought my writing isn’t good enough. You can let others be sorry for you, or you can run with it. Being terrible is also about being resilient. Allow yourself to be terrible and to continue working at it. Don’t judge yourself for being terrible. Go out and get rejected. Put yourself out there. Rejection is easier to handle when you know it’s just part of the process. Don’t be so bogged down. Being rejected a lot is a part of being successful, in whatever sphere.”

– Looking toward the future… as far, or as close as you want to imagine (one year or hundreds of years)– What do you think we should be doing now to prepare for the future?

“I’m thinking of this in a small local scale… and having a good network of support can prepare us for the future. Have people you can rely on. It can release you from lots of concerns and worries. If everyone can build a good support network, then no one will be terribly unhappy any longer than they should. A support system will allow you to have the confidence that you sometimes don’t have in yourself.”

IF YOU WISH TO SUBMIT AN INTERVIEW OF SOMEONE IN YOUR CIRCLE, HERE ARE THE GUIDELINES.
• Essays should be between 400 and 800 words (copied as an email or sent as a Word document)
• Please size photos at 1500 pixels wide at 72 dpi.
• Please compose photographs horizontally (landscape)
• We will need a permission slip signed by the person you interview. Click here for the link to our digital signature form
• Email photo and essay to unite@operation-365.org
• By submitting you allow us permission to publish your words and photos
• Questions to ask (you may expand if you wish)
#1 – If you had the stage… the undivided attention of the world… and all were listening… What words of wisdom, council or advice would you share?
#2– Looking toward the future… as far, or as close as you want to imagine (one year or hundreds of years)– What do you think we should be doing now to prepare for the future?

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