Menaca Pothalingham knows what it means to start over. She was already an adult when the civil war in her home country of Sri Lanka began and forced her to uproot her life and move to India. In India she obtained a university degree, but not without struggle – starting over in a new country and learning a new language was not easy – but Pothalingham always knew she wanted to find a way to help others and ultimately she found her calling. Today she works in London as a Resilience Coach, helping her clients discover their passions and live a purposeful life, both personally and professionally.
Pothalingham’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I’ve always possessed a desire to help others to make their mark on the world and this was a driving force as I worked through my own difficulties. This vision helped me to overcome my low self-esteem, lack of confidence and silence the negative chatter. It helped me to stop the cycle of constantly seeking external validation. I’ve always possessed a desire to help others to make their mark on the world and this was a driving force as I worked through my own difficulties. This vision helped me to overcome my low self-esteem, lack of confidence and silence the negative chatter. It helped me to stop the cycle of constantly seeking external validation. It has led me to places I never thought possible, including becoming an award-winning speaker and author.
All of our experiences shape our journey to becoming more resilient; indeed, my own experiences of war, migration and personal loss and health challenges have all played a part in shaping the person I am today. I am grateful that these experiences, some of which were traumatic at times, enabled me to develop greater levels of forgiveness, compassion, truth and love. Being able to embrace the peaks and valleys and still be able to move towards your vision with clarity utilizing the lessons we learn, asking for advice and accepting our shortcomings is essential. Finding my path and persevering persistently with grace, poise and a smile has been my greatest strength.
My biggest success to date – Despite facing the challenges of war, migration and stress-related illness, I have become an award-winning speaker, bestselling author and coach. My biggest success has been being able to rise up every time I have fallen, each time I have made a mistake and whenever I have failed. My belief and courage to dream, to take action and keep going, even when people around me have told me it’s impossible, has driven me towards success. I believe success is a journey and not a destination, so I want to become a better version of myself than yesterday and every day. My goal is always to leave others in a better place than where I found them.
The biggest test of my own resilience came when the Sri Lankan Civil War forced me to uproot and leave all that I knew and loved behind. I moved to India and began studying a degree at university, where it took me several years to really master the English language, something which really challenged both my confidence and my inner strength. After graduating, I made the decision to relocate to the United Kingdom but this came with the realization that it would probably take me a number of years before I would succeed professionally. Despite making significant steps in my academic journey, I still felt that I was being held back at every step, as I had to readjust to life in a new country and the challenges of a new language. It was during these times that it could have been so easy to give up and let my fears overcome me.
It was my father who helped me to gain perspective and start the journey to re-building my life. I was an adult, but he told me that I would always have a home with them and that they would always look after me. This reassurance made me feel safe and in that moment, I realized that I had been neglecting my mental, physical and spiritual health. This set me on a transformative journey of healing, where I was able to rediscover my inner peace.