In the book, Dream Big Grow Big: Personal Development Strategies to Live a Life You Love by Donna T. Phillips, she talks about how you can live a life you love through personal development strategies. Dream big and grow big are two aspects of living your life well. Dreaming is all about what we want out of our lives and growing is about making it happen. When we dream, we’re able to see our future in a more positive light because that’s where dreams take place, in the future! As for growth, it starts at the foundation which means that when building something from scratch, you must start with a strong foundation or else everything will crumble over time.
The foundation is the starting point in creating our Best Self and it is also the key to living your life well. In order for you to live out your dreams, they must start with who you are as an individual and how much effort you put into making them come true. Dreaming requires us to work on ourselves because we can’t achieve anything unless we believe that it’s possible. Believe in yourself and be confident enough in what you’re doing so others will follow suit. As Donna T Phillips mentioned, “Successful people expect things from themselves.” If our self-confidence wavers at any point, then there’s no way of achieving success which means failure becomes imminent if this happens too often or too frequently without being able to overcome these roadblocks along the way.
Self-confidence is something that I struggled with at a very young age. When you are picked on as a child in school, you grow up lacking the confidence and the ability to interact with your peers and it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I Fired My Old Self, and created a New Self, a self that has ultimately formed my life to this day. I found strength and confidence through working out, not only on the outside, but the inside as well. As I got stronger physically, so did my mind and spirit. I gained a self-confidence that I had never experienced before in my life.
It is a shame, however, that as adolescents, we cannot see into the future, the future of adulthood, or have more faith in those that raise us. It’s a tragedy almost that we can’t whisper into the souls of those afflicted and bullied to reassure them that the struggle, the hurt, the hurtful words will mean nothing as we grow and mature into adulthood! If we could or did, we would see that as adults, the things kids say truly mean nothing once we get older and move on in life. “Popularity” amongst the other students in school doesn’t mean anything, the cool kids may not be the cool kids in adulthood, and those that were the bully or the source of someone’s mental anguish (the asshole so to speak) turn into a sign of strength and resilience.
“Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life”, Barbara Walker. How true this has been in my own life. While it may be true that our past doesn’t equal our future, it is important to note that we must learn from the past in order to form the future self we want to become. I didn’t confront my self-confidence problems until later in life, but when I did, I experienced growth that to this day I carry with me every day of my life. The struggles truly did make me a stronger person both internally and externally. In order to gain confidence, we must first strengthen the foundation we stand on. We must be able to look in the mirror and be proud of what is looking back at us but also love what we see. I didn’t love myself enough because I let the ridicule and negative words I heard as a child dictate who I was as a man, instead of finding the real truth, the truth inside me, and the truth that’s inside you as well!
It is through struggle that we gain strength and become our Best Selves. The Dreamers that have crafted plans for their future are the Dreamers who will achieve what they set out to do and it is through a struggle through adversity, failure, hardship, stress, etc. (the problems we face) that we create these goals for ourselves! When I Fired Myself and became my New Self (which I did unknowingly to myself) I truly became a person that when I looked in the mirror I loved and ultimately, loving ourselves first is the most important aspect to “Living a Life We Love”.
I was very lucky growing up, I had a very supportive family who was there to reassure me that nothing I am hearing in my life is true. They showed me love, support, and compassion which ultimately was an attempt to shield me from the struggles I was facing as a child. I had a father who I looked up to and idolized even to this day. He is the epitome of what strength, courage, and confidence look like. I strive to emulate the life he lives now, as I continue my journey of life. My sister, my defender and best friend was there to protect her younger brother. No one, and I mean no one, picked on me when she was around. She demonstrated the toughness and the resilience I needed as a child and young man. My mother showed her baby boy love in a way only a mother can to her child. She was there whenever I needed her. She reassured me that who I am as a person is not what the other kids are telling me, but rather, what those around me who have a vested interest in my life are saying. Listen to the words that are shared with love and kindness, not the words of ignorance and malice.
Over a year ago, one of my sources of mental anguish in school, we’ll call him Tim, demonstrated the epitome of the conversion from “asshole” to a sign of strength and resilience. His brother, we’ll call him Jack, was on his way home from his delivery route for the day and he was passing over a 17-mile-long bridge that connects the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the mainland of Virginia, the Bay Bridge-Tunnel. For some unknown reason, Jack’s truck went over the side of the bridge into the bay and Jack was left struggling for his life. He crawled out of the truck to save his life, but that wasn’t enough. As people stopped to help, they saw Jack sitting on the top of the truck and then ultimately trying to swim to safety. Jack was a strong swimmer, so he attempted to swim ashore but according to reports the bay was too rough that day, and it ultimately won the battle.
Search and rescue crews searched for a week to try to find Jack’s body but were unsuccessful at their attempt. Tim’s strength and resilience kicked into overdrive in an attempt to bring his brother home so that the whole family might have closure. What started out as few, grew into many, showing ultimately that there is strength in numbers. After over a month of family, friends, and people truly concerned for the family searching for Jack, Tim got notice that Jack’s body had been spotted off the shores of the Carolinas. The family was able to finally bring some closure to this horrific event in their life, give Jack a proper sending off, and move on with life with the reassurance of knowing that Jack was no longer lost, but found!
In an attempt to show my support, I reached out to Tim via text, to let him know that the same strength he demonstrated in high school was the same strength that was carrying him through this tragedy. He, who was once a source of anguish for me, was now a friend and a source of inspiration because he was the typical tough guy, willing to fight anyone anywhere, but who ultimately turned his willingness to never back down into the source of positivity that not only led him through this tough time, but also made him the man he is today. He truly is an example to me of how what we see, hear, and experience amongst the confines of our peers in school doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how someone will turn out to be once adulthood is reached.
As parents, leaders, and anyone with influence, we must breathe hope into those that lack confidence, strength, and love! Showing them what the future can hold if they stand steadfast to their dreams and goals. We must help enforce and reinforce the foundations of those facing struggles in any area of their lives in an attempt to breathe hope into those that might feel hopeless while recognizing that it all starts at the foundation of life and remembering that each word we speak adds to the blocks of life. The past truly doesn’t equal the future, but let’s learn from it, grow from it, so that in the end we can smile big and ultimately learn from experiences like the one Tim and his family lived through that remind us that, “Life’s Short, Love The Life You Live”!