Dima Ghawi – Take Action

Broken glass and shattered ceilings: This is the inspiring true story of how one woman took control of her own destiny. This is how you overcome fear and become a successful individual.


A girl is just like the perfect glass vase. If it gets cracked for any reason, you can never fix it or glue it back. It will always be seen as cracked. This stroy has been passed down for generations, from my great-grandmother to my grandmother to me. And it became an overwhelming obstacle in my life when I followed all of that. I did exactly what was expected of me.

When I was 19 years old I got engaged through a family introduction to the most eligible bachelor in the community. My parents were thrilled. His mom was the one who arranged the introduction. She introduce us. We got married. And we moved together to San Diego, California to follow his career aspirations. I thought that with this marriage and the move to the US I could finally be allowed to discover my identity and be respected for who I truly am.

But to my shock, the expectations never left. They were actually bigger. And I was expected to do more and more to maintain the perfect image. I felt living in it like a property. I was expected to just serve him and his family. I wasn’t even allowed to speak to my parents other than 20 minutes a week. I was terrified of staying in that relationship, but I was also afraid to leave. I felt that my life was over. There was nothing to live for.

And I wasn’t even 25 at that time. And that was the moment that I decided that I’m going to feel the fear and I’m going to take action anyway. I packed and I left. I went to bed that night knowing that I cracked the vase. And as terrified as I was, I knew that I made the right choice. Not only did my family disown me, but one attempted to have me killed to save the honor of the family. And if you’re wondering who is the person who has attempted to kill me and who is trying for that 16 years? That’s my own dad.

Because he feels that I brought shame to the family and my blood, shedding it, would be the only way to clear that shame. I needed to move on. I couldn’t live in the past anymore. I needed to create a new satyr. A story of empowerment. A story of self-discovery. I just didn’t know how to do that. I was barely surviving and my only way that I knew of in order to move forward was with education. I enrolled at the University of San Diego.

Less than a year later, I decided to start applying for jobs. And I just wanted to practice interviewing skills. Every single company I applied for, they gave me an offer, including IBM, to their Leadership Development Program. I was so terrified. Terrified of leaving San Diego. Terrified of leaving the past behind. Terrified of proving myself in this big company. But the same intuition kept telling me, “Feel the fear and take action anyway.”

And I did. And that’s when the world opened up for me. I got to work and travel around the world with IBM. I lived in Japan for over a year. I got to work on projects with them at the United Nations in South Africa. I got to lead global teams. And every day I would wake up, I would remind myself to feel the fear and to take action anyway. And all kinds of people from around the world would send me messages telling me about how they related to my story. Men and women, all kinds of ages, different religion, different professions, different everything resonated with the message of being perfect, of being afraid constantly of making mistakes, worried of being judged, and aspiring to be perfect.

To my grandmother, the pure, perfect glass, it represents the unrealistic limitations that I choose not to obey. What vases are you living with? Who told you not to follow your dreams? Who told you not to be yourself? What is holding you back? We can continue to live in fear and keep the glass vase perfect or simply feel the fear and take action anyway. Smash it with all the fear, the worry, and the shame that it represents.