Last night was a truly historic evening.
Most of us were overcome with so much emotion, it was and still is difficult to express our sentiments with words.
I recently discussed what Barack Obama represents for many of us; that he provides proof of the idea that we can do anything.
Although my post was quite brief, it inspired some great conversations with some friends, so I thought I’d delve a little further into the topic.
This has nothing to do with politics.
This is about having dreams, keeping faith and accomplishing goals.
All of us have people in our lives who tell us we can’t do something or they mock our attempt to do better. I’m sure you can think of a number of occasions when someone tried to discourage you from achieving something.
For me, there are many memories like this, but one in particular that stands out quite vividly because it was one of the first situations that helped give me immunity to naysayers and obstacles.
I was in the 8th grade. Our History teacher didn’t show up one day, so the principal came in as a substitute. The principal, Mr. Harding, was an ex-cop who always disliked me (my parents’ number was on his speed dial – and vice-versa).
During this slacker period, the principal needed to kill time so he asked everyone to take turns saying what we want to be when we’re older, why we want to do it and who inspired us to want to do it.
I was sitting in the back-row of the middle aisle, so I was more or less in the exact middle in terms of order. Everybody starting speaking on what they wanted to be when they were older. Lawyer, cop, veterinarian, pilot… a lot of the answers you’d expect from a 8th grade class.
Then it was my turn.
“What do you want to do when you’re older Moe? And remember to tell us why and who inspires you to follow that path?”
“I want to do one of 2 things when I’m older. I think I’d like to be a doctor because I want to help people and do something that makes a difference.”
“Very good, and who inspires you to become a doctor?”
“I don’t know, just the idea inspires me.”
“Okay, and what’s the other thing you’d like to be?”
“I’d like to be a music producer or something like that. I want to do that because I love music and I want to do something that makes other people enjoy themselves. I look up to people like Russell Simmons, Quincy Jones and Berry Gordy.”
He nodded his head and continued on with the rest of the students.
This was the last class before lunch, so as the bell rang he offered to give advice to anybody who wanted to talk to him after class.
I hated his guy, but after saying my plans outloud, it got me thinking so I waited in the small line by his desk to approach him.
I heard him tell other students in front of me to go to the library down the hall and find some books about what they want to be and ask their parents or the guidance counsellor for help meeting somebody in that profession to find out more.
I figured he would offer the same advice to me, but I highly doubted there would be any books about getting into the music world in our school’s outdated library, and I know for a fact that my parents would have no idea about that. Nor would they encourage it.
I was the last in line, so I had time to think of some follow-up questions so I can get some real, solid advice about pursuing my passion.
When it was finally my turn, he got up and said we’ll talk while walking to his office.
“What was it that you wanted to be again? A music something and what?”
“I want to do something in music like produce music or have my own record label or maybe be a doctor.”
“Well Moe. I gotta tell you; both of those are really hard to get into. You said you like Quincy Jones, but you know Quincy Jones is a genius, there might not ever be another person like him again. And as far as being a doctor, that takes many years of hard work and school. It’s not for everybody. Maybe you should think about other options and see what else you might be interested in. Try something a little less challenging”
If you think I’m exaggerating this or making it up for the sake of this post, I promise you I am not.
That one line that always resonates in my mind, “try something a little less challenging”. Verbatim.
After he said that, he opened the doors to the staircase and went downstairs to his office while I stood in the same spot with my heart pounding like it was going to burst out of my chest.
I lost faith that day.
This man who was principal of a high school of young, impressionable kids; this man whose responsibility it was to motivate and help shape the lives of young students, just ripped out my spirit, shred it to pieces and threw it all out. All in the matter of a minute or 2.
I became depressed and started to believe that maybe I’m not cut out for anything. Maybe I should just re-evaluate my goals and find something a little more “safe”. Something that I can’t screw up.
Either that or just do nothing until I die since I didn’t think I was good enough for anything anymore.
This wasn’t the only incident of this nature that’s occurred though.
I could literally tell you dozens of memories like this. No lie, dozens. Hell, even my father told me to drop out of school when I was college to just go ‘find a job at a factory or telemarketing’.
There are always going to be people who try to trample our dreams. Sometimes they do this out of malice, but other times they do this out of their own insecurities and cynicism.
Does it mean we should listen to them and not want more?
I’ve been through too much in my life to let anybody or anything stop me. When you’ve been to the absolute bottom and didn’t think you’d ever see another day – you never look at life the same again. Trust me.
Nothing can really scare you once you’ve already felt like you’ve lost everything.
For me, I don’t know exactly what happened that made me change my train of though after that incident in the 8th grade, but ever since then, I shifted my rebellious teenage spirit from rebelling against authority to rebelling against negativity.
Ever since then, I’ve refused to accept any mention or idea of inability and negativity. I don’t accept the status quo. I don’t accept the word “impossible”. I don’t accept the word “can’t”.
Hell, I don’t even accept the phrase “I’ll try my best”. Most people see that as being a positive statement, but I see it as creating a self-imposed bubble around your abilities and only attempting to reach that distance rather than shooting far and beyond it.
Sometimes I get a little preachy around friends, but that’s because I inherently cannot accept negativity. It boils my blood to witness it.
90% of the battle is just believing.
Today, everybody is celebrating Barack Obama for making history. And he is. But so are you and I.
We are all making history.
The things we do every single day, help us collectively create the society for our dreams to become reality. Many people have been working everyday towards creating a world for there to be the possibility of Barack Obama to become President.
And it’s not just because it’s him necessarily, and it’s not just because he’d be the first Black President, but it’s about everybody that was ever told they can’t do something. Its about refusing to accept limitations and believing that you can’t do more. It’s about never accepting the word “impossible”.
In order for us to achieve our dreams, we must do our best each and every single day in order to create the environment in which to accomplish them.
As long as we never give up, we are accomplishing the biggest portion of that dream – going for it.
The end result is just a celebration, but the real success is in the journey.
Had that principal never shot my dreams down like that, I might not have ever realized the importance of believing in myself and fighting every negative thrown my way.
It came in handy countless times, especially after I decided to pursue my passion and get into the music business. Everybody around me channeled that same negative energy I had gotten used to and told me I was making a mistake and that I would fail. And I do mean everybody.
I was alone in my belief that I could do it. But I keep that belief, and I bust my back everyday to fight for it.
Regardless of who is trying to discourage you from going after your dreams; it’s up to you to believe that they can be reached.
Today we have proof.
Dreams can come true.