Eminem said, “I pray that God answers, maybe I’ll ask nicer.” The eighteen months leading up to me having being my brains blown out I was working myself out of homelessness. I had enrolled in college earning a 3.7 gpa, worked, volunteered, and rescued a dog from the desert. With that being said, this morning when I woke up bedridden I had found myself questioning hope, hero’s, and global religions. I asked myself, “When ones heroes and gods die, where does an individual turn to break free from the abyss and overcome the threshold of which they fell under?” Joseph Campbell said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Being a bedridden, gunshot surviving, recovering quadriplegic is my gift acquired along the hero’s journey of my own. Diving deeper into this thought I discovered that life is a luxury, the moment is a gift, and the past is a paying contribution to the hero’s journey of which I embarked upon. With that being said, today, before the local college campus closed, I met with a counselor, made an education plan, and enrolled in this upcoming fall quarter. Today I found that when gods, heroes, and hopes die, I am left with the most important option, to become proactive in my pursuit of self-improvement.
At this point of my recovery, I had become increasingly frustrated and a turning point came when I internally questioned the quality of my future following my traumatic brain injury. At this point of my recovery I was a severe paraplegic and my therapists told me that I could not use my legs anymore, the in home support caregivers quit coming to my house, and essentially, I was both bed ridded and at wit’s end. Additionally, my mother was hypnotized by all of my therapists suggestions, in regards of never using my legs again, and attempted to discourage me from leg strengthening and improving my lower extremity mobility. At this point, I had realized that if you want to live a life by your design then you must disregard blueprints set by others and forge a future of your own creation. Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” In today’s world where we are consumed in social media, bombarded with negative global events, and pressured to sway from our attitudes, core values, and beliefs, it is easy to lose touch with our authentic selves. For example, do you, or have you, ever had a simple goal that seemingly got hijacked by the opinions, social politics, or the ups and downs in life? Or, have you ever been on Facebook and found your values and beliefs challenged on your news feed? With chaos constantly intersecting our lives in our fast paced society it is easy to become distracted and lose focus from our envisioned trajectory of which we take our lives. Additionally, with the presence of mass media and communications it is fairly simple to compare where we are in our journey of life compared to others. With that said, the steps of becoming proactive include being of original thought, break down walls, and finding a mentor.
Be of Original Thought
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,— that is genius.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Interacting with therapists, family, and friends, when I became proactive in overcoming my adverse circumstance taught me that one of my greatest obstacles was dealing with the resistance, manipulations, values and beliefs of everybody around me. Social arenas have the power to hold your progress, potential, and ability to become proactive hostage. Succumbing to the persuasion, or leadership, is dangerous because you have a unique perception of the world, which reflects your unique ability to overcome adverse circumstances, and if you are not careful, your mind can become absorbed in endless political intrigues and opinionated battles. Nobody has your best interest in mind, or knows what you want, more than yourself. I have always told myself, and deeply believe, that, “To be yourself, think for yourself.” This quote is especially is important because we live in world full of diversity and as a result, no matter what you do, somebody will always be offended by your values, attitude, and beliefs. With that said, to have resilience in a world that is constantly trying to change you requires having integrity to be yourself by thinking for yourself. Additionally, having a character of integrity is essential because the paramount dilemma we face in diverse social landscapes is sacrificing our future well-being for a taste of instant gratification. Furthermore, becoming swayed from our core values is usually caused by an external influence, so staying true to yourself and being a person of original thought is essential during the journey of personal transformation when overcoming adversity.
Break Down Walls to Overcome Adversity
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
As people, we often exaggerate our adverse circumstantial challenges, which minimizes our possible solutions because the focus reverts to problem. Often times, fear of the unknown makes us question the effectiveness, outcome, or the pay off for the efforts involved with overcoming adversity and related challenges. This fear of the unknown, when overcoming obstacles, often leaves us paralyzed in our tracks. On the contrary, by approaching adversity with a solution based attitude, you will minimize challenges, create opportunities, and become fluid to change. This fluid and proactive approach towards overcoming adversity is essential because adverse circumstances are not stop signs, they are merely speed bumps, and these challenges must be treated as such. For example, when water in a flowing river encounters obstacles, the fluid does not stop, instead, it assumes formlessness and surpasses the interfering hinderence. In this regard, the challenges of today gives us the strength and experience to become the person that we want to become tomorrow because much of accomplishment is measured by the obstacles you have overcome, and many individuals view overcoming obstacles as a right of passage for further success. With that said, obstacles are not supposed to put a halt on our life, they are supposed to be used as opportunities for growth. If you think about it, every adverse circumstance that you had to overcome in life only made you stronger, whether it was, mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, and in order to use misfortune as instruments for improvement, you must accept the hardship first. It is like a saying that I came up with when I started working through problems of my own, “What is not revealed, cannot be healed.” Once acceptance has taken place, and the adventure to overcome adversity has been called upon, then the personal transformation process will begin where you will meet people, acquire skills, or find technology that will assist you in your journey of overcoming the adverse obstacle ahead of you. Joseph Campbell once commented on the transformation process that that happens when you take on adversity saying, “At the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.” Out of the darkest moments can come the greatest transformations. For example, Dwayne “The Rock Johnson” described a turning point in his life when he was a college football star, suffered an injury that compromised any chances of getting into the NFL, and ended up back at his parents house with only $7.00 to his name. In this moment, turning point, made him realize that he wanted to become a professional wrestler and break down the walls of adversity.
Finding a Mentor to Overcome Adversity
Waking up on my would-be bed at thirty-two years old taught me that life is short and your time for learning and creating something from your newfound knowledge is limited. Additionally, without guidance, you can waste life’s richest commodity, our time, in attempt of applying what has been learned to achieve the results that you desire. What my recovery taught me, and where much of my progress has manifested from, is I instead of learning as you go, it is much more efficient to follow the example set by a master and become their protégé. In addition possessing efficient problem solving skills, knowledge, and strategies to overcome adversity, the correct mentors know how and where to focus your attention to maximize both your maximum potential, growth, and outcome. Furthermore, when you find a mentor they should address and strengthen your weaknesses, give you inspiration to improve, and put you on a path that will open more doors for you in the future. With that said, by finding and following the right mentor that works for you, all of their prior knowledge that they have acquired over the ages inherently become yours. On that note, Oprah Winfrey once said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Through an engaging, and often intense, mentor-protoge relationship you will formulate a way of thinking which is both rich in power and tailored toward your individuality. When searching for a mentor, find one whose lifestyle, life needs, and life’s tasks closely connects to the life you want. Once you have internalized your mentors knowledge, keep the communication line open and have a goal of both evolving and surpassing the abilities of those passed down from your mentor.
Tearing Down the Strongholds
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
William Ernest Henley
As living beings, we are all at war. The weapons of our warfare are not physical, the ammunition comes from the failure to overthrow the strongholds of adversity. Many of us come to acceptance with adversity, and sell ourselves short in life, because we believe that the way things are is the way they will always be and as consequence, you lose the opportunity of making tomorrow better than it was today. In other words, instead of being the captain of our soul, we tend to allow adversity to close up and hold our souls captive. Perhaps our past can explain our suffering, or perhaps you are in my situation, where your day to day efforts to stay alive is taking it’s toll on life, whatever the case may be, we must not use it as an excuse to stay in bondage with adversity any longer. With that said, no matter what the war is that you are dealing with, there is a way out, however, it is up to you to put in the effort to achieve the results that you want to receive. For example, at this point of my recovery, and both my family and I were being told that I cannot use my legs again, I told myself, “For every excuse you give yourself give yourself why you cannot, give yourself ten reasons why you can, and take action.” You always have the choice to embody the strength and character of the person that you want to become. From my experience, as you become proactive in overcoming the adverse circumstances ahead, you will amass the required skills and techniques that are necessary for tearing down the strongholds of adversity that you are facing, but you must put in the effort to overcome your challenges first.