Chapter 1: Intro
Do you have a life vision? Or are you still trying to figure it out? You do not immediately have a life purpose out of the blue moon, you know.
It requires hard work, discipline and a willingness to try new things. But once you have your mission, it is a powerful feeling.
I recently found my life purpose.
I feel more locked in than ever.
However, it was not always like that. I may have a vision for my future now, sure. But that vision was crafted after years of being lost, years of being broken and years of being confused.
Before I was able to become the person that I am today, there were a lot of dues that needed to be paid. I needed to feel true pain from inside and out.
But that pain was a gift all along.
The same Phoenix that burned apart was the same Phoenix that rose. All those years of trials and tribulations were necessary. Why? Because those years have led me to this exact moment.
My personal journey has allowed me to learn a lot about life and make a lot of new discoveries along the way. My most unique discovery? The Five Superpowers.
The superpowers are five mighty soft skills. These five skills have allowed me to completely change my personality and become a better version of myself.
The knowledge of these skills turned me from a quiet little boy to the artistic engineer.
In my world, these skills are life changing. I want to share how my journey led me to discovering the five powers of:
- Public Speaking
- Social Dynamics
- Emotional Intelligence
Hopefully a person who is feeling aimless in life will understand that dark moments are not an end-all be-all. Believe it or not, each dark moment is crucial for ultimately discovering your vision.
Here is how I discovered mine.
Chapter 2: Where it all Began
I was raised in a village in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Envision your beautiful life. Clean water. Restaurants. Movie theaters.
Now picture the exact opposite.
My village was not the safest of places. It had killers running around, crooked cops, gang members and thieves. Our community had little to no technology, low wealth and an overall tough lifestyle.
But you know what? Our family was happy.
Some of my best memories were playing hide n seek with my childhood friends, hearing stories from the village elders and eating everyday with my loved ones.
Life was good. Scratch that. Life was great.
Until it all Changed
Due to the heavy crime in our village, my dad felt it was best that our family move to the United States.
He broke the news to my brother and me when we came back from school one day. This was the worst news two young boys could possibly hear.
This move meant that we would have to give up everything and start over. We had to give up our friends, family and lifestyle.
My brother and I were crushed, but there was nothing that we could do. The move was going to happen whether we wanted it to or not.
And just like that, we begin packing up, creating our final memories in Chittagong and counting down the days.
The next week, I said goodbye to all my childhood friends and family members. We did not know when we were all going to see each other again. Better yet, we did not even know if we were going to see each other again.
Saying goodbye was by no means easy, but it had to be done. Our village gave us their blessings and cried as our rickshaw drove us off to our flight.
Off to a new world.
Chapter 3: Not an Easy Transition
Moving to the US was a huge culture shock. Everything was so damn different. People were playing with this thing with a screen in there palms. Oh wait, that’s called a Gameboy. Many people had huge spiky hair.
This was a foreign concept to me, considering most of us had comb overs in the village. Everyone called football soccer. What was going on?
Life was going to be different.
My biggest struggle? The language.
We learned the basics of English back in my village. But now, English would become our predominant tongue.
My accent was awful when I first moved here, and it did not go unnoticed. I would get mocked by my fellow classmates anytime I spoke. They would always imitate my voice and ridicule the way that it sounded.
This led me to being very self-conscious about my voice growing up. Being self-conscious about my voice led me to being very socially anxious and shy.
Soon enough, friends became a scarce commodity. There were a lot of kids forming friendships in the classrooms and in the playgrounds. But me? No, I just kept to myself. The lone wolf look gave off the perception that I was not interested in hanging out with people.
But in reality, I was. I just didn’t know how.
The lone wolf lifestyle began to take its toll on me. Eventually, I would always avoid speaking up in public gatherings. Social events became a thing that needed to be avoided at all costs.
Eventually, the feeling of uneasiness made it tough to walk around in public due to the fear of being judged.
Life was becoming very difficult.
Just a shy kid with big dreams
I was always shy growing up. But just because I was quiet with my words did not mean that I was quiet with my mind. I had dreams of dying a legend. I genuinely wanted to impact the lives of people around the world.
My dream was to one day become successful so I could go back to my village and help my country resolve the ongoing issues with homelessness, child trafficking and poverty.
How was I going to do this if I could never speak up? How could I do this if I was so terrified of people? How was I going to make an impact if I did not have any confidence?
The short answer, I could not. It was impossible to make an impact with the current mentality that I had.
Something needed to change.
Chapter 4: The Start of a Journey
By my early twenties, I was studying in the College of Engineering to become an electrical engineer. Engineering had been one of my passions since childhood. At age 4, I told my parents that I would one day solidify that profession into my life. Even the other village kids would always tell me how I was great at fixing things. They all predicted that my future was going to be in the US as a top notch engineer.
It felt excellent to finally have the opportunity to become one. Engineering felt like an escape from reality.
Why was it my escape? Because I enjoyed it. But also because my life had not remotely changed in terms of confidence. Over a decade passed by and I still did not feel confident.
One day I was studying for an exam alone in the library. This was the perfect exam to do a group session with. But that couldn’t be done because I was too damn shy. Okay, enough is enough! No more living like a recluse.
Something had to change. I needed to think of some ideas to change my personality. There had to be a way.
I brainstormed for hours to think of something. Idea after idea. But NOTHING.
Hours later, the light bulb moment came.
Scratch that. This idea was brilliant.
This idea was much better than just a regular light bulb.
Public speaking is the number one fear on the planet. People fear public speaking more than death. If I can overcome this mighty challenge, then I will feel more confident than ever!
One day, my friend told me that a group called the ‘Toastmasters’ was on our college campus. They were apparently going to be hosting a meeting for the day. He explained that Toastmasters was one of the top public speaking clubs in the world.
This was perfect!
I knew I had to go to this meeting and see if public speaking was really worth it. If public speaking could make me feel more confident and comfortable in my skin, then it could forever change my life.
Let’s check out this meeting.
The meeting was being hosted in one of the University lecture halls. Hmm —a lecture hall? I thought this was going to be a small meeting…
Nope. The exact opposite. To my alarming surprise, there were a lot of people in the crowd. And worse? The crowd had a lot of familiar faces.
Suddenly, I felt a huge surge of anxiety. What if I got called up on stage? What if my voice quivered and gave off how nervous I was? What if my friends in the audience saw me embarrassing myself?
The goal at this point was to not be noticed. My friend and I decided to sit all the way in the back.
I still ended up getting chosen for Table Topics (one to two minute impromptu speech.) The Table topics master looked my way, pointed at me, and told me to come on up.
Immediately, my heart dropped, knees weakened and face got warm.
Soon enough, an army of eyeballs were staring at me. There was no running away from this.
I knew what had to be done.
My heart was racing at a hundred miles an hour while I was walking up to the stage. It felt like the longest walk ever. The speech anxiety was off the charts. Oh no, this is it, huh?
Could I possibly muster up enough courage to speak in front of this lecture hall audience? We shall see.
I was now in front of the stage. My speech topic was ‘maraca.’ Okay maraca huh? I should’ve been able to talk about that for just 1-2 minutes, right? Let’s show them some humor. Would I rise to the occasion?
I completely choked and did not say one single word. I still remember that day like it was yesterday.
Body was trembling. Mind was running. Face was hot.
I was avoiding eye contact with everyone in sight. My friends from the audience giggled with one another while witnessing my colossal fail.
The worst part? The Toastmaster that was leading the meeting was very understanding and sympathetic after my choke job. His sympathy simply added to my shame.
After that first massive flop, I decided to quit. I accepted the fact that I was not meant to be great. I would just die a squirmy, unconfident, loser.
Just when I thought my life could not get any tougher, it did. That choke job had me feeling less confident than ever. All my friends at that point had forgotten about what had happened. They all moved on with their lives.
I could not. It wasn’t so much the choke job that was the problem. It was more about the level of anxiety that I felt anytime that I wanted to go to another Toastmasters meeting. If I could just muster up enough courage to go to a few more meetings, then I knew it would get better.
But I couldn’t. The fear of shame overpowered the potential shot at success. This fear slowly began to spillover to other parts of my life. Even though I was running away from the fear, the fear kept chasing me.
My social interactions suffered. My emotional control suffered. I felt more isolated than ever.
Engineering at this point was my only safe haven. Working on designing electrical schemas, building circuit boards & creating devices felt like heaven.
But other than that? There was not much else going on in this bland life. I felt too much pain anytime I wanted to exit my comfort zone.
I guess it was time to simply settle and live out the rest of my life being average.
Chapter 5: The Death That Changed Everything
One day, I was in class and my mom began to call. She knew my class schedule and never called during those times. This must have been important.
*flashback to the past*
Just two years earlier, I had the chance to visit Bangladesh once again. My family and I visited our home village of Chittagong after more than a decade. Many of our old friends and family members had moved away at that point. But luckily, many were still there.
The best memory about the trip was seeing my uncle and auntie had a son. His name was Nabin.
During our one month trip, our family got to bond with Nabin. He was a four-year-old that was vastly ahead of his years. The kid was forming sentences and was already saying jokes at the same time! Humor at such an early age? This kid is going to be special.
I still remember one of the days in particular. My auntie told me to teach Nabin how to tie his shoes. Honest truth? I did not want to pick up this chore whatsoever. I had a feeling that it would take the whole day to teach a four-year-old to tie his shoes. Wrong.
It would take any other four-year-old that long. But for Nabin? It barely took him an hour.
Yes, this kid was going to be very special.
* back to the present*
My mom was silent on the phone for a few moments. You could tell she wanted to tell me something but was having difficulty putting the words together. Then she said it.
Nabin, had just died.
Due to the poor construction of one of the buildings in Bangladesh, a railing broke as my cousin leaned on it, which led him to fall to his untimely death. After the news, everything went silent.
I was crushed. My heart skipped a beat. My knees weakened. And I broke down in tears.
He was just a little kid. I loved him. Now I would never see my beloved cousin blossom into a man.
Why am I telling you this?
Because my little cousins death gave me a wakeup call about my current reality. You know the pain that I was feeling after choking my first speech away?
That was nothing compared to the pain that my entire family was facing.
What was I being a baby about? I had no right to quit. There was no way that I could let my family down.
The memory of my cousin was forever placed in my heart. My fire was reborn.
This time, I was not doing it for myself. I was doing it for a life that was taken too soon. No matter how tough the journey got, I would figure it out one way or another.
Chapter 6: Journey 2.0
I went back into the Toastmasters world and signed up for three different clubs. Three clubs to kill my fear once and for all.
Mustering up enough courage to go back was not easy. Did I still feel the nerves? Absolutely.
The speech anxiety was still there, sure. But this time, the anxiety was overpowered by the newfound fire I obtained after my cousins death.
Despite showing a squirmy unconfident stage presence in my first few speeches, I did not give up. Did I struggle? Like none other.
But this time I knew exactly what to expect. Strangely, the first choke job somehow began to feel like a blessing in disguise. I had gotten the worst part out of the way and now it was just a matter of continuing.
Baby steps were better than no steps at all.
Each speech required dedication and effort to plan out, but I showed up to work for every single meeting. My Toastmaster mentors would have me record my speeches so I could see how I could improve.
Once I left the meeting, I would relentlessly study endless film of myself and of the world’s best speakers. This was no longer just a hobby. This was becoming a lifestyle.
Soon enough, each speech was becoming easier and easier. I started to get better and better. My nerves of anxiety began to melt away. The nerves were now turning into nerves of excitement.
What was happening? Was my fear of speaking finally going away?
Yes. Yes it was!
Public speaking was finally giving me back something that I had always yearned for: a voice.
I Was Not Done
After months & months of dedication to my craft, I was finally becoming a polished speaker. Being able to become a public speaker gave me back the keys to my life.
Once I was able to speak with poise on stage, talking in social interactions started to feel like a breeze. My initial plan was working out! Public speaking was skyrocketing my confidence.
This all had to mean something. I need to help someone else reach this level of happiness as well. If I can just help one kid get their voice back, then it will all be worth it.
My new found confidence made me more ambitious than ever. I decided to run for External Vice President of the Suncoast Toastmasters club.
Was this really happening?
My entire life I was this shy, soft voiced, timid kid. Was I really going to run for a leadership position for one of the top public speaking clubs in the world?
You bet I was.
A Changed Life
I ran for the External Vice President position and won. This position would require that I bring the message of Toastmasters to the general public. And I did exactly that.
I went to clubs, social events, and school campuses to recruit people who were terrified of taking the stage.
If I was able to teach myself how to do it, then anyone can learn. You just need to show heart.
But I Was Just Getting Started
Conquering my fear of public speaking was simply the first step of my journey. I used my new found confidence to enter the social dynamics world.
I was extra curious about social relationships and emotional connections. This led me to use my past and present social interactions to figure out how humans worked.
You know what was unique?
Even though I felt confident now, I would never forget the soul crushing pain I felt growing up being bullied, mocked for my skin color and teased about my accent.
This soul crushing pain allowed me to virtually empathize with anyone whether I agree or disagree with them. These high-level empathy skills were crucial when I went on a journey to study and analyze social dynamics and emotional intelligence.
This journey was even more interesting because I decided to use my knowledge of engineering frameworks to guide myself in the ambiguous emotional and social world. This was by no means going to be easy.
But guess what? This engineer was up for the challenge.
Chapter 7: When the Dots Began to Connect
Have you ever had an experience in your past to only see it come back and tie in to your present?
It is a beautiful feeling when different dots begin to connect to form an amazing picture. Let me explain. During my childhood, I used to learn the art of storytelling from the village elders. Dot One.
Later on in my life, I started my public speaking journey in Toastmasters. During my time there, I was able to learn storytelling from the grizzled veterans who knew how to captivate a crowd. Dot Two.
Public speaking enhanced my confidence like none other. This new-found confidence gave me the courage to become more social with others and learn social dynamics and emotional intelligence in the process. Dot 3.
After years of learning storytelling from the eastern and western cultures; public speaking; and learning and applying EQ and social dynamics; my creativity SKYROCKETED. Dot 4.
All the soft skills slowly began to intertwine with one another. Each soft skill was rewiring my entire way of existence.
My entire life I had simply dreamt of being an engineer who had all of the hard skills down. But once I was introduced to the soft skills, I was able to unlock a brand new side.
An imaginative new side that I never knew had existed. No longer was I simply just an engineer. I was a grander version of that.
Now, I was officially the artistic engineer.
ArmaniTalks the Artistic Engineer
Thus far, I have built my ArmaniTalks brand by sharing my personal journey with learning the five soft skills.
These soft skills alone have changed my life forever. It is only right that I continue to learn more and share my personal insights in the process. Maybe my personal experiences can help another person in their journey.
It took plenty of years, confusing nights, and pain and struggles to get to where I am today. But you know one thing? At least I have a vision.
My vision is to share my story with the world and let you know that change is alwayspossible. Each dark moment is getting you one step closer to your best self.
You just need to unleash that FIRE buried within you, and guess what?
The world the world is all yours.
Keep trying new things so you can fail, fine tune, and eventually learn. Just when you are hitting a brick wall, remember this. You may be just a few more mistakes away from figuring it all out, my friend. Keep showing up and putting it all out there.
Although life is different than it once was, I am still not done. I am hungrier than ever to become a better version of myself. And there is not one thing that will get in my way.
The fire within me is shining brighter than ever.
Buckle up. The journey of the Artistic Engineer is just getting started.