17,981

We have spent most of our lives focused on the things that we do not have. We lose ourselves in comparison to other people. It’s true. We are taught what success looks like. We are shown examples of what our life is supposed to be, which is then compartmentalized and boxed in an almost mass–produced fashion. 
I can think of a list of people who told me how to be, how to think, to act, and what to wear and how to style my hair. I can think of people who suggested that I rethink myself; that I reconsider my career choices because for whatever the reason might be, in their words, “There is no room for me in places like this.”

I can list the critics. I can list the jabs from people with their opinions and their social constructs or class distinctions. I can list the times I was told, “Don’t even bother.”
I can think of the different patterns I was shown throughout my life and all the uniforms I wore from the suit and tie to the blue collar. I can think about the different molds I tried to fit into and the different types of people I tried to be.
I have come to a clear decision that I am not made to fit the examples of other people. I am not designed to be like anyone else. I am not supposed to do anything other than be loyal to my best interests, my dreams, my passions, my direction and above all, my aim has now become directed at my purpose.

I remember people telling me about the things I’ll never do. And I’ve seen this, historically, throughout my life. There is always someone that will tell us why we’re going to fail. There’s always someone around looking to shoot down our dreams. 

When I made a choice to switch directions and learn more about mental health and healthcare, I was told that I will never make the kind of money I want to make, especially at my age and with my level of education. I was told that I was looking at going back to school for a long time and that I would have to invest years into my education before I would be ready and even with a diploma in hand, the battle is still uphill. 

I have been told who I am and what I am capable of.  I have been told about my limitations, which of course; understanding my limitations is not something I need help with. I have lived with a limited mindset for most of my life; and then one day, I decided to break out of the box.
I decided that I do not want to be compartmentalized ever again. I want to live. I want to see. I want to dare the odds and give it a go.
This is why I never listen to directions that do not allow me to improve my life. I do not involve myself in conversations with people who degrade me. I do not allow myself to be drawn into the shallowness or closed-mindedness of others because I’ve done this before.
I’ve seen what happens when I try to coincide and live alike. I have seen what happens when I trade myself to conform or respond like Pavlov’s dog. 

I can remember hearing people say, “You need to be more like . . .” and the rest of the sentence can be interchangeable with anything. I was told this by teachers. I was told this by people in different authoritative positions. I was told this by people within my circle of social influence.
I was told to be more adaptable. Learn to be more like other successful people. But what does this mean? After all, no matter how I dress or in what direction I part my hair, the only person I will ever be is me. So, why not make this work?

I agree that optics are important. I agree that we live in an image conscious world. We compare. We have supposed beauty and commercialized beauty. But what about us?
What about true beauty? What about the beauty of being an individual? What about being unique?
Is this not beautiful? (I think it is.)
What about utilizing our talents and nurturing ourselves to reach our best possible potential and finding our purpose? 

One of my most favorite places in the world is the beach. However, I used to struggle when I’d go to the beach because I was ashamed about the shape of my body. When I was younger, I was painfully thin and could never gain weight. Meanwhile, all of my friends were into weightlifting. They had sculpted bodies and me, I was afraid to take my shirt off.
And would they make fun? Yes. Sometimes they would.
Meanwhile, I was at the beach. I could see the waves come in. I could hear the seagulls above. I could smell the sea and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I could feel all of these wonderful things; yet, the miracle in all of this was distracted by my ideas of shame. And why? Because I didn’t look like other people?

Age is a funny thing because somehow, my metabolism decided to swing in the other direction. Being painfully thin is no longer a problem for me. It seems the pendulum has switched to the other side and I have the belly to prove it. 

The problem with shame based thinking is that we tend to believe there is something inherently wrong with us. This does not outline our best features or support our talents. Not at all. Instead, shame based thinking teaches us about our faults and flaws. I’ve lived that way for way too long. But not anymore.

I understand that I look the way I look. I sound the way I sound and I approach my life as me and not as anyone else. However, I have chosen that at this point in my life, it’s go time.

“Nothing can stop me.”
Except for me.

I have been part of this thing that I call Project Earth for a long time. 
As of today, I have been part of this experiment for 17,981 days. I have made changes. I have adapted and improved. I have survived and endured. I have lost and I have gained. If I were a chart, I am sure there would be graphs showing where I declined and others where the incline of my improvement is off the charts. Going forward, my interest is to serve my potential so that I can advocate for my own success and reach for my dreams. Of all the things I’ve learned in the 17, 981 days, the most important is that no one else is going to succeed for me. This is my job. This is my life and this is my dream. 

There was a group of people who bet that I was going to die. I was much younger at the time and certainly a different person. But still, their prediction stuck with me. And guess what?
I’m still alive and the people who told me that I’d never survive are still in the bottle or stuck in their compartment.

Not me.
Not you.

Not again . . .

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