It is in the depth of darkness that even the smallest sliver of light keep us moving forward. That sliver of light grows as we slowly pull ourselves out of the depths of our own personal hell and into the light and life we always longed for. No matter how bright the light surrounding us though, we never forget the darkness. It follows us. Haunts us. And many times, fuels us toward brighter futures. We channel the pain, humiliation and heartbreak of our life’s biggest scars into productive fire to lead us onward. It is that moment we realize what we endured simply created in us a stronger being.
Ping Fu has had more than her share of pain. At the age of nine, Ping Fu was taken from her family and put into a prisonlike facility designed to degrade and humiliate her and her family. It was no fault of Ping Fu’s, simply her family was being made an example by the Chinese Cultural Revolution’s anti-elitist campaign. Ping’s darkest time took place over the next ten years as she struggled to eat meals of dirt and manure, was raped, and lived in isolation from her family. The prisonlike facility was on a mission to dehumanize her and make her realize she was “worthless” as an individual. But try as they may to break her, Ping held on, believing her life worth so much more.
After Mao’s regime ended in China, Ping attended college but was forced to leave the country after writing a powerful thesis on infanticide in her country. She arrived in the US with nothing more than a few dollars, knowledge of three English words, and plans to create a better future for herself. She studied English in New Mexico and paid her way through college tripling as a babysitter, waitress, and cleaning lady. Ping eventually moved to San Diego to finish her degree at University of San Diego. Ping’s incredible journey didn’t end there. The young woman went on to co-found Geomagic, a 3D software company for design and engineering, and was named Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. Try as the Mao regime did to break her, Ping never broke. She believed in herself and competed for her life. Her story is almost too unbelievable to be true. Ping Fu details her journey from imprisonment to freedom and to the world of technology in her book Bend, Not Break. It is a powerful reminder that in this life, what does not kill us makes us stronger.