This next part of my story taught me a lot about life, taking initiative, and what separates many people from being stuck in life and not making any progress towards their goals.
At this time, it was August of 2019 and my recovery was underway. However, I just needed that extra push to get me from being able to stand to being able to walk.
I was getting physical therapy to practice walking once a week, and sometimes every two weeks. I was not getting the aggressive walking practice I needed to get up on my feet and walk again.
One time, I was in the gym, and someone came up to me. He asked me how it would sound if he set up a GoFundMe campaign to help me get into a walking clinic to learn how to walk again.
I have a large social media following, about 20,000 people following my journey, and each one of them said they were willing to do anything to help me recover and learn how to walk again.
The objective was to raise $5,900 to get into that walking clinic – named “The Next Step.” What happened really shocked me, though.
I found that the closest people to me who I initially thought had my back, and who were supposed to have my back, did not even contribute to helping me achieve this goal of walking again.
These are the people who knew me the most and knew first-hand that this is what I desperately needed.
As a result of this unfortunate situation that occurred to me, people showed their true colors. It showed me just how much people “cared” when I needed them the most.
It proved to me that just because someone says “I’ll be there for you, no matter what,” it in no way means anything unless they show it rather than speak it.
These types of people are just cheerleaders cheering from the sidelines without actually implementing any help or strategies to see a win. They are like the leaves on a tree – they leave immediately and aren’t rooted in your life permanently, so they drift away when times get tough and the cold snap hits.
You can take a look at my post about this for a more in-depth discussion – I think it’ll be quite interesting for anyone to read and relate it back to their personal lives.
As my GoFundMe campaign was not getting the support it needed, I began messaging people individually to explain my situation and my needs.
Instead of asking people to donate directly to the funding campaign, I asked them if they could share my story and campaign. At least this was something that everyone could do.
When I had no opportunity, I created the possibility for myself by taking the initiative. The result from my effort and initiative was incredible.
My GoFundMe campaign received 542 shares, and I managed to raise the funds from complete strangers to get into The Next Step, which literally was my next step in life.
It turns out that raising money was actually one of the easier parts of this journey. For the past two and a half years, I have been working eight hour days, seven days a week, like it was my job to recover.
By this time, when I got to The Next Step, there was another dilemma. I became burned out from working out. The Next Step was high intensity and was going to work me harder than I had ever worked before during my recovery. I was absolutely exhausted.
I remembered a quote that my math professor in college had said. He began asking people what their majors were, and the students responded with music, art, history… My math professor said: “You don’t need this crap,” – he was referring to the math class.
He continued to say that these hard math classes are filters that separate those who were serious about the pursuit of their career and those who weren’t.
This quote stood out to me when I was burning out and feeling exhausted. It made me realize that this burn out was not a burn out, it was a filter separating me from my old self. It was allowing me to make progress towards my goal in my transformation journey to walk once again.
With that said, a whole new journey begins. I made a breakthrough, and a whole new journey will begin again after that, too.
Getting into The Next Step fitness center was ironic. If I want to get to the next step in life, I need to take initiative, reach out, make new contacts, and overcome and persevere through mundane and tiresome moments that separate the real from the fake.
Furthermore, this separates me from the people who make up excuses for why they can’t do something. Instead of having the mindset of thinking that there are obstacles and problems, think proactively, and look for solutions to problems. A positive attitude will always lead to positive outcomes.
Another thing that The Next Step taught me was that if you work hard, the challenges of today will become easier and more manageable in the future. On my first day of recovery here, they had me walking on the treadmill, and I felt like I was dying all over again. I was sweating and in an incredible amount of pain.
My third day doing it, I was disappointed because I felt as though I didn’t improve. I asked one of the workers this to confirm, “Did I work as hard as I did yesterday?”
She replied, “No, you worked harder. There were more gains with less effort.” If you undergo challenging situations or therapy, these challenges become easier regularly over time. You practice something, and you get good at it over time. Things become effortless.
At home, everything is set up to favor my dominant side. I get out of bed so I can favor my dominant leg. When I start walking, I step with my dominant leg. At The Next Step, everything is backwards.
They have me start walking with my non-dominant leg. The bed transfers force me to use my undesired leg, and they even have me standing for prolonged periods of time only on that leg.
This taught me to avoid what is strong and to attack what is weak, thus becoming a better version of yourself and improving your body and mind evenly.
“Crunch, crunch, tear.” I went from being wheelchair bound to taking steps an hour a day at near jogging speed. My nervous system was firing, my body was having convulsions, and my meniscus tore as I tried keeping up with the treadmill while supporting only 40% of my body-weight. I was in so much pain for the following few weeks but I did not stop the program because I came here to learn how to walk, not to give up. You have no idea how much pain my knee was in and as I was laying in pain my mom chimed in and said in a snotty tone, “I guess you weren’t ready for this.” Hearing this from my biggest supporter was damaging. I thought it would be possible that I would need a knee replacement in the future if I continued like this and I was okay with that because I was going to learn how to walk again. However, when my mom made that comment it was a reminder to me that if I wanted to get out of the situation I was in, getting out of the wheelchair, then I would have to suffer through all of the conditions until I reach my goal.