“I was told over and over again that I would never be successful, that I was not going to be competitive and the technique was simply not going to work. All I could do was shrug and say we’ll just have to see.”– Dick Fosbury
I could go on and on about this topic and what it means to my life. How my choices, decisions, and struggles have brought me to this moment. Many adults would ask “If you could go back in time, what is one thing you would change?” My response use to be, when I was in high school, my mom told my high school basketball coach that I could no longer attend practice, games, or any basketball activities until she approved.
This wasn’t the conversation that changed my mindset. About two days later, we had practice, I went to the gym, not prepared to practice but just to watch and support my teammates, and my high school coach at University City in Philadelphia was at the door and said “you cannot come in sir. Your mom said no practice until she tells us you can return. So you have to leave.” Furthermore, Coach proceeded to escort me to the door and closed it behind me. Once that door closed in my face, was the moment I shut academics, family members, and my own mother out my life.
Similar to many young black boys, basketball was my life and how I thought I would make it out. I had “hoop dreams” but my actions and decision once my mother took me off the team due to “academic probation” would conclude otherwise. Growing up in the City of Philadelphia for young black boys is a challenge in itself. With a single mother, crime, violence, drugs, girls, and an easy access and pipe line to each of these things listed, can become a distraction and what we call a “trap.” This was back when I was a teenager back in 2004-2005. Now in 2019, the accessibility to negativity and the exposure to it all is mind blowing.
Sometimes we grow up fighting against, what we should be fighting for. If you don’t know yourself, love yourself, and be comfortable with making your own decisions, then it will be difficult to learn, develop, and grow through your adversities in life. The experience of failure should make you a little more hungry. However, this does not apply to all.
When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, “You’re either going to love yourself, or hate yourself.” I decide to love myself. That changed a lot of things. We learn by being in a place of uncertainty. From traveling and transferring to four different schools, in three different states (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia) with three different families, within one calendar year (2006-2007), provided me with the opportunity to fail. More importantly, it was a time that I had to learn the difference between right and wrong because I would of always been in trouble.
A question you should always ask yourself: What are the choices you made that brought you to this moment? What would you have done differently if you could? Everyone has a story to tell, their own version of their life. How I was raised and natured we had to work and earn everything. Nothing was given to us as children, teens, or currently in my adulthood. For a long time, I failed, struggled, cried, was angry at myself and my mother. As I enter adulthood, I was broke, and couldn’t find a job after I graduated college so decided to relocate down Charlotte again. Then I was laid off and burnt out. I was lost!
Nobody sees the struggle, the pain, the tears, the work, the sacrifices, or the adversity. Most people only see success. We can either let it hunt us for the rest of our lives, or we can expect it and use the pain for understanding. Many early morning and late nights. No one said it will be easy, but it’s damn sure worth trying and going through the process. For myself, I invested too much to quit. I sacrificed too much to give up. It is easy for some to give up and quit, because they didn’t pay for anything, they never had to work for anything. Once you realize you are responsible for your own life, your decisions, your own behavior and actions, and not blame others or be upset at the world around you; your eyes and mind will expand, gaining a sense of your “WHY” your “PURPOSE” in life.
Many of our youth in today’s society is lost in the realm of sports and life. They are smarter, brighter, and wiser, but the level of influence is also higher, and they gear their life towards one specific goal with no back up plan. Once that ball stops rolling and bouncing, what will you do? What are your goals and plans to live and make a contribution? Great if they make it, but for those that don’t, this is a cruel world that do not care about who you are or how you feel.
I love what I am able to do and I always believe there is more to accomplish. I am never satisfied or become content with where I am or what I may have achieved. Keep in mind it will be rough, and you will struggle, but the key is to have faith and believe in yourself, your gifts, your talents, just like others do in you. Value your character and not your reputation.
During graduate school at Drexel University, I learned about a concept called ‘Growth mindset’ which is “the ability to learn can change with effort. When kids read and learn about the human brain and how it change and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to preserve when they fail; because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.” As humans, I believe we learn to teach, encourage, guide, support, and uplift others. The flip side is only caring about yourself.
Once you have a clear understanding of your “Why“, which is your purpose, now the ‘What’ and ‘How’ is simple. I learned to give not because I have much but because I know exactly how it feels to have nothing.
We all have 3 choices: Give in. Give up, or Give it all you’ve got!