Dare to think you can do things better
I feel like it was yesterday that I was sitting in a classroom humming Jimmy Hendrix when my teacher told me to get up and follow him out of the classroom.
“Where are we going?” I asked as we walked down the hallway
“To the principles office” he responded.
“Why?” I asked
“Because you have to learn that you can’t do anything you want, you have to realize that sometimes you have to follow, and you need to understand that you’re a distraction to people who are actually trying to succeed and they don’t deserve to have you keeping them down.”
“Really? For humming a song while I was doing my best on a test?”
“You’re going to be suspended for what you just said, you’ll never learn and you’ll never amount to anything.”
That was one of many times I heard a similar message in school.
Sure, I had teachers that understood me but they were few and far between.
Like my coach who helped me understand the sport of basketball in a way I had never thought about it before, and fueled my passion for it ever since. My economics teacher that gave a very tactile approach to learning abstract concepts, that helped me end up earning a 100 in a class that the majority of my peers failed to pass.
But most were like my geometry teacher who required students highlight their answers, and if an answer wasn’t highlighted it would be counted wrong. Why? I will never know.
Most had the most bizarre rules, or wanted to pass judgement on each kid as though it was their decision whether a kid would be a success or not. Luckily I was rebellious, which in retrospect probably didn’t help the situation to begin with, but led me to not trust their instincts, and instead to be led by my own.
Kids with a worse self esteem would likely succumb to a teacher bad mouthing their character, and their chances of succeeding, but honestly a kid that doesn’t raise eyebrows would likely never be on their radar to attack.
The funny thing is the kids these teachers loved were the kids that fit in, the kids that didn’t try to stand out because they didn’t have to, the kids that had their way paved for them. By circumstance they were either so well-to-do that they knew a nice college ride would be given to them, rather by way of a sports scholarship because their parents could afford all the best equipment for them, or because they never had to worry about their place among their friends because their family name gave them the popularity that no one would dare belittle.
It was stuff like this in school, and even now that I turn my nose up at. I know what I’m capable of, and it’s a lot more than most of them. It’s people like those that make the rules for those like me to follow, it’s people like those that pave the way that others expect people like me to follow.
If you follow others your whole life, you’ll never really know who you are. That doesn’t mean that you have to start your own business, it doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, it doesn’t mean you have to hate your friends and family. It just means that you need to trust yourself, your instincts, and your outlook on life and let it guide you more than those around you.
You could be like my father, who came from a long line of athletes who played at a high level, leaving FSU in the third year of his full-ride scholarship to walk his own path and dream of being a writer, and later an actor.
You could be like my mother, who moved away from South Georgia to Atlanta to live among more liberally minded people and make her own way after having to endure more than any child should at such a young age for so many years.
Once you follow your own footsteps and you use yourself as a measuring pole of success, and you focus on always being better than you were yesterday, you will be amazed at how fast you move forward.
I look back at my friends early in life and to no disrespect to them, a lot have had a really hard time. People told them things would be fine for them, people told them things would be easy for them. They believed those people, and when the easy road never came I think they became confused and lost.
Meanwhile I knew I had to fight for whatever I was going to have, and I did fight. Not many years later I now wonder how far I have yet to go, because I couldn’t have dreamed of my life being as good as it already is.
I am married to a wonderful woman, who I’m dancing with in the photo at the beginning of this article. I co-own a business with my brother that is growing at a rapid pace (something many people told us was a bad idea, because “family doesn’t work well together”). I live in Florida at the beach where we used to vacation to as a kid, and I used to lay on the beach and dream of waking up in a place like this.
I even built a PC just for playing games in my free time that I wouldn’t have been able to afford in my wildest dreams when I was a kid staying up late competing in tournaments online with my friends. My teachers used to literally make fun of me for playing games, even though I now make a living on the internet.
I’m not lost on the irony of what I’m writing.
By telling you to trust yourself, it may seem like things are just going to work out for you as they did for me. Believing things are just going to work out is an easy way for things to not work out. Believe that you have to make them work out, believe in your ability to discern what is best for you and those you love, and always try to be better about understanding what that is.
Then apply it.
Follow yourself, follow your heart, prove people wrong, enjoy your journey, and trust yourself.