Reading her story reminded me how I gave up on certain dreams because I was also told that I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, or talented enough. Unfortunately, because I was young and didn’t know any better, I took those beliefs and adopted them as my own. Even though I now know better, I still sometimes struggle with those beliefs because they had become so engrained in my brain. Catch me at a vulnerable moment and I find myself repeating those beliefs until my inner Spirit gives me that spiritual smack on the back of the head and says, “Karen! Snap out of it! That’s NOT who you are! You are beautiful, healthy, and talented! Those are NOT your beliefs!” I hear it, but I still don’t always believe it.
How many of us have had someone tell us something so negative and demoralizing about ourselves that we took those beliefs as our own? I think of what so many adults tell their children and they believe it. There have been numerous children who have told me that they’re stupid and no good and you can’t tell them otherwise. Who is telling them these things!?!?
I remember having a group of children repeat positive affirmations such as “I am beautiful! I am smart! I am successful!” and so on. Afterwards, a young girl came up to me and said, “Miss Karen? You know all those things you said we were? I am none of those things!” It broke my heart! I always try to lift people up with inspiring words, especially our children. We need to remember that people who tear others down are speaking more about themselves than the person they’re speaking to.
After I read the article, I went on-line to research those who overcame some serious obstacles and yet became triumphant in spite of what they were told or experienced. I found countless successful people who were told they would never make it, weren’t talented enough, and/or weren’t attractive enough, or they survived horrendous events. Many even had numerous failures. Here are some names you may or may not recognize depending on the generation you were born. I would highly recommend Googling their stories as they are fascinating and inspiring.
Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stallone, Lucille Ball, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Stephen King, Thomas Edison, Jay-Z, Simon Cowell, Steven Spielberg, the Beetles, Elvis Presley, Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, J.K. Rowling, Colonel Sanders, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Immaculée Ilibagiza, Helen Keller, Victor Frankl, Anne Frank, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and the list goes on.
There’s a great poem titled “Don’t Quit” by Edgar A. Guest called “Don’t Quit.” It states, “When things go wrong as they sometimes will; When the road you're trudging seems all up hill; When the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh; When care is pressing you down a bit; Rest if you must, but don't you quit. Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns; And many a failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out; Don't give up though the pace seems slow; You may succeed with another blow; Success is failure turned inside out; The silver tint of the clouds of doubt; And you never can tell how close you are; It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit, It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
George Bernard Shaw said, “People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get ahead in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
And Marianne Williamson stated… “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”
So never give up! Keep going in the direction of your dreams! I believe in you!
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper April 10, 2015.