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Tonya Pomerantz | Ottawa | Write Down Your Vision

Mentorship Facilitator, OCISO - Ottawa, Canada

I was incredibly lucky to be the daughter of a dad who worked for Canada’s Foreign Service. I was born in Belgium, moved to Norway, moved to Aylmer (just outside of Ottawa), Canada, then to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, then back to Aylmer for six years (the longest I had ever lived anywhere), then finally, to Singapore. My journey took me across the world as a child, and it helped shape who I am and how I see the world. A self-described global citizen, my goal is to help others identify their strengths and learn how they can contribute their skills to make their world a better place.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

Anxiety, low self-esteem and insecurity were the main hurdles in my life. I always compared myself to others, and never felt good enough. I was always lacking; other people were better. I overcame these feelings (but sometimes still deal with self-limiting beliefs) by seeking support from professionals. Counselling helped me, but so did taking a coaching program. I worked hard to develop a stronger level of self-awareness and self-esteem. Like everyone, I am a work in progress. Learning about who I am, and truly understanding my need to live an authentic life were fundamental in my journey. I worked at many different jobs, but was never happy. I moved houses many different times, but was never happy. I always felt there was something better out there. I realized that I had really been moving away from myself, and until I addressed the root cause, I would always be moving, always searching. I would never be content. In my 30s, I found my place in the world, and that informed both my professional and personal life.

What books are you currently reading?

Books I am reading right now include Salmon Croquettes by Glodean Champion, Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria. I recently finished Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson and Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil by Susan Neiman.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

My parents and my family are always supportive of me, although they may not always understand what I am doing or why.

I guess what I know today that I wish I had known when I first got started was the importance of listening to the clues, both inside and outside myself. I listen to other people’s thoughts and opinions, and I value other people’s feedback.

If I could do things over again, I would probably go straight to college, instead of university. I am not an academic. I much prefer hands-on learning and enjoy doing rather than researching. I consider university and college to be the one, two punch. University gave me the degree that I have needed, but college gave me a job. It also gave me the opportunity to study as part of a small class, not just one of hundreds in an auditorium.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success?

The single most influential factor in my success has probably been reading the book Living Your Colors by Tom Maddron. “Discover Your True Personality and Promising Relationships Through the Secrets of the Color Guide” Practical Wisdom for Life, Love, Work and Play. Learning there was nothing wrong with me, I am just Blue. I operate from Emotion, and that is just fine.

What do I know today that I wish I had known when I first got started?

I know that I am my own worst enemy. I create obstacles to reaching my goals. I also know that my strengths are valuable, even if I am not a STEM person. Finally, I know the importance of living in congruence with my values.

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

My advice to an upcoming young person would be to identify their definition of success and live according to their values. Do the work you need to do to figure out what you like doing and where you want to do that, and with who and for who. Write down your vision and mission for your life. These will be your guides.


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