Today we will dive into fear that is holding our nation back from reaching our dreams.
Yesterday I met an amazing woman in a wheelchair Ellen who was able to achieve a dream by stepping onto an ice rink for the first time in Ottawa.
This reminded of the amazing story of a friend a met in Atlanta, Carden, who was brave enough to travel 79 miles carried across the Appalachian Mountains to take a stand against FSH muscular dystrophy, breaking down mental and physical limitations in the process. Carden and Ellen are making the world more accessible and becoming pioneers for fighting physical barriers, following the footsteps of Michelle Steger, who became paralyzed by lupus disease in 1991 and fought her life to make disabled people access their full rights as citizens with freedom.
Shortly after, I ran into a 12 year old star Junior who was doing tricks on his skates. I went up to him and asked him to teach me how to break on the skates. We ended up discussing his dreams to become a professional soccer player and he completely destroyed me in a race across the rink. Even though I was 11 years younger, we were both equal learning from each other in order to get closer to our dreams. This reminded me of my dream as a 12 year old to become a professional basketball player and then led me to the train of thought of how the past 10 years have slowly sucked the life and suffocated the dreams of so many people in this world because of society’s leash.
We always immediately, and often unintentionally, stop dreams thinking we are doing someone a favor. When someone does something out of the ordinary, we immediately question and make them feel like they are doing something wrong. We are so paralyzed by this fear to fail on our journey that we can’t even get close to true failure.
When I was at the beginning of my journey a year ago, I used to constantly doubt myself, strangled by taking the first step, and let all my dreams die under the blanket of fear. I was unfulfilled and caged to a leash. Taking the first step to shed fear is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but by far has had the most rewarding outcome: The Foundation for Failing Freely. The first step I took to shed that layer of fear was through the concepts of Autonomy and Ability to flip a switch in my mind that my dreams could become a reality.
Now I am spreading love, being my authentic self, and focused on leaving the world a better place than I was born into achieving my full potential everyday! Achieving my full potential means educating and inspiring others to achieve their dreams being their authentic self-growing incrementally each day on their own scale.
How Did I Take My First Step?
AUTONOMY: I realized that I needed to be in control of whatever path I decided to take, and whatever path I decided to create for myself, it needed to be aligned with my vision and goals, which needed to be aligned with my authentic self.
ABILITY: No matter what path I committed to, there was nothing in my way of making a positive difference for myself and other people besides my internal fears.
DON’T compare yourself to anyone. It is quite important to have mentors and gain perspective on different people, but comparing yourself to someone else will never satisfy you. There is always going to be someone who will make more money than you, have a bigger house, and most importantly seem like they are happier than you are currently feeling in the moment. Rather than compare, listen and learn from the people that take the time to speak with you. Take the different qualities that you admire from these people and create your own set of values. Once you create these values that you want to live by on a daily basis and commit to them, you can start building your own vision and goals. You can start to create dreams that everyone around you laughs about. With the amount of content and people telling you what to do with your life, it is easy to get caught up in a path that aligns with a vision that isn’t yours. Maybe it’s your parents, your friends’, or your teacher’s vision, but make your own decisions because they are not going to be the ones who are going to suffer every day when you are doing something that isn’t fulfilling or that you aren’t passionate about it, and doesn’t make you happy etc.
Being alive is a privilege that I hope someday can be appreciated by everyone. This idea was more present than ever when I went to Mount Herzl with my group on birthright in Jerusalem, Israel. As we got to an Americans grave, and our trip leader told the story of this bright, smart, happy, handsome young man that had passed away from a bomb explosion, and had thousands of people show up to services to show their love and respect for this man. What struck me at that moment was the thought of all the dreams of everyone in the cemetery that don’t have a chance to achieve. All of the amazing things they were planning on positively contributing to the world will never be done. The reality is that no matter what your current situation is, it could always be worse. Terry Fox discovered he had a malignant tumor in his right leg and had his leg amputated 15 centimeters above the knee. And yet, he wasn’t going to give up and let anyone influence him that he couldn’t run. In the present moment, Terry seized the hand he was dealt and ran 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles) for 143 days raising millions of dollars for cancer. Kyle Maynard was dealt an unfortunate path at a very young age as he was born with a congenital amputation, he became the first quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics. Kyle had the vision to not let his success be defined by anything or anyone but himself. He has lived his life striving to do more, learn more, push harder, go further—and to inspire others to do the same by sharing his story and living by example. Though he tailors his speeches to his audience, his messages are centered on building a life driven by purpose and meaning, the importance of the undying pursuit of dreams, and the belief that no obstacle is too great and nothing in their lives can keep them from accomplishing their goals. Kyle and Terry have both proved that anything is possible if you are alive in the present moment no matter what hand you are dealt. There is no path too steep to overcome. While it is annoying that I was born with food allergies that don’t allow me to have chocolate, ice cream, Reese’s Pieces, and an abundance of delicious foods, it didn’t stop me from traveling to 36 countries by 22. There is nothing I could do but make the best of the situation I was dealt and take massive action to positively impact as many people in the food allergies community as possible. I am grateful I have legs and to have the privilege to eat food. If you can sit in the present moment and think, you are qualified to achieve your dreams at any age. There is a reason for you to be living on this Earth alive. Kyle, Terry, Carden, Emma and countless other pioneers didn’t allow limitations to define them. You shouldn’t either.
Take your first step today to shedding a layer of fear and don’t stop dreaming.
I guess if people aren’t laughing at your dreams, they aren’t big enough ?!
Inspiration from Carden, an amazing human being who has broken so many barriers!
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Brandon is a recent B.B.A graduate from the College of William and Mary with severe food allergies to all dairy, nuts, fish, and negativity. His past experience of not being fully awake to his potential has motivated him to teach others how to become the best possible version of themselves, experiencing each day with the freedom to feel alive being their own authentic self. Brandon is a world traveler to 38 countries and 38 states, an unofficial World Record Holder for Fastest Marathon on Crutches at the NYC Marathon, and has previously worked for IBM, NASA, Ministry of Tourism of Bali, and research for the US Government regarding sustainable fundraising for NGO's. He thrives at leaving his comfort zone, meeting new people and creating epic experiences and memories with those he has met on his journey.
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“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”
- MARCUS AURELIUS