You Are Not Your Experiences.
On January 14, 2019, I dropped out of college just after attending for a year, and for those who don’t come from families with strong cultural beliefs on education, where parents dream of their children becoming doctors, lawyers or engineers — this was a big deal. Don’t get me wrong I love education and I believe knowledge is an important tool to possess, dropping out, however, was just unacceptable. I remember feeling as if my future was over right after I left college. Literally. “What was I going to do now?” I thought to myself, and the questions from my family weren’t helping. College was just a lot for me, especially because at the time I had been dealing with accommodation issues. They say when you’re facing a difficult time it motivates you to go harder especially when you’re in school, well that wasn’t my story. The focus wasn’t there neither was the enthusiasm. I regretted my decision every day. I recall feelings of frustration and confusion for a good and solid year. I knew I had to leave at least for now, however, I had no clue of the impact of my decision. Dropping out of school felt like failing and I carried that with me completely.
But here’s the truth… just because you failed at something, made a bad decision, or were identified by a certain name doesn’t mean it’s who you’ve become. You are not your experiences. It sounds simple but it’s extremely liberating when you grasp this. There is a fine line between the two. The experiences we face have a way of making us feel like what we’ve gone through has ultimately determined who we’ve become. So we stay there feeling stuck and labeled. As plain as it may sound, there’s a difference and this is what changes everything. Who you are as a person is separate from what you’ve been through. Putting this to perspective releases us from the feelings and thoughts that come from the challenges we encounter, and helps us understand that they were only events, moments, seasons, and nothing that defines who we are. Take a moment to look at your life and observe which experiences you’ve allowed yourself to be labeled by. Separate the negative name, trauma, challenge, or trial you’ve passed through from who you are as an individual and a person then watch what that will do for you.
Dream Big, Map Out a Vision, and Execute.
Now that we’ve gained some insight into what defines who we are it’s time to start creating experiences that we do want to be remembered for. Dream big, map out a vision and execute it in sections. Our dreams are the goals, mapping out the vision is the planning part and execution is when we take action. Everyone has a wish, we all desire something. Dreaming is good. It’s necessary for becoming successful but that’s just the first step. Without action, dreams will always stay as dreams, just an illusion and nothing tangible. Put pen to paper and write down what’s stored in your mind, but don’t just write down the goals be specific on how you will achieve them, why it’s important to achieve them and then when will they be achieved. The “why” is the most important to emphasize because it reminds you of why your daily efforts are worth it. Be a strategic planner, prioritize being organized. This is what will give you a better sense of clarity and direction. Once you’ve mapped out your vision, follow it by doing what you’ve written or said you would do. Be accountable.
Execution time! Get a calendar. This is what will help you identify what, when, where, and at what time something has to be executed. When I decided to pursue becoming an entrepreneur, I didn’t know what google calendar was. I remember once being on the phone with a well-established individual, basically a millionaire. We spoke for a few minutes and before leaving she insisted that we book our next call through google calendar and concluded by reminding me to check my email by tonight to accept her invitation. Well, have you ever nodded your head or agreed to what was being said even though you had no idea what it was about, all in the name of not looking stupid? Google calendar sounded like something I should have known but I didn’t. My response to the individual was “Right! Google calendar, for sure. I’ll make sure to check”. How comical.
I got her email and accepted it, but I also researched what google calendar was, set one up for myself, and started using it for all my meetings. I realized it’s okay to not always know everything or wait until you “feel” ready to pursue a thing. Sometimes things are only meant to be found along the way. Focus on the dream or goal, put pen to paper, plan strategically and put some action into it. Be accountable.
Repetition Builds Confidence.
One of my favorite quotes by George Addair states “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”. We all want to be great in life until it’s time to do what it takes to be great, which includes a lot of risk-taking. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the triumph over it, having courage means feeling the fear but choosing to do it anyway. This leads me to my last and final tip, building confidence. What is confidence? There are so many definitions and phases to confidence. My two most preferred definitions would have to be “loving and embracing who you are at all times despite your environment and experiences” and the second “repetition builds confidence” the second being my focus. I remember asking an entrepreneur who is fairly established in her career, how to build confidence. I had dreams and ambitions but I was so new at this whole entrepreneur thing, and I remember her saying “Divine, you build confidence by repetition. You do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable”. Let me tell you how that was what I needed to hear. As simple as it sounds that spoke life into me. Confidence is something you become, evolve, and grow into.
What’s the point of having an amazing dream and planning things out but not having the courage to go after it? Fear is inevitable, it might appear tomorrow or a week or month from now. If you’re ambitious, desire to live the life of your dreams, and make some sort of an impact, be prepared for fear to show up more than you expect it to. The good news is that we all carry courage. Courage enables us to triumph over fear, it gives us the ability to do what scares us and empowers us to face our fears over and over until we’ve gained confidence. Confidence needs to be nurtured. Repetition builds confidence. Keep doing the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Keep daring, keep pushing, and make yourself proud. How else do we bounce back after the hurdles and disappointments of life?
By doing just this.