Beyond the hair and wellness talk, I wanted to start a new series that shares stories from which I draw personal inspiration. From keeping me on my hustle to bringing a moving tear to my eye to putting a simple smile on my face, it’s these tokens of inspiration that are the true driving forces in my life. It is my hope that you enjoy, share and most importantly live The Life Inspired yourself!
This week I’m starting things off with somebody who has been featured many times here on NaturalSelectionBlog. Two years ago,I partnered with KomazaCare to “adopt a transitioner” and work with them over the course of the year. We selected Stephanie, a highschooler from Brooklyn who found herself as a lone transitioner in her home and school. Fast forward two years: Stephanie is now thriving as a fully natural junior in highschool! She recently asked me a few interview questions about my concept of “success” for a class. The result is a speech about this topic that is full of great lessons and inspiration that I’d like to share with you as we kick off our weeks and start our new years!
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] B [/dropcap]eing raised in the neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, everyone expects you to get into drugs, gangs, and violence. No one expects you to become a millionaire. Young men are usually being raised by single mothers who work two jobs and don’t have time to keep track of their son’s whereabouts. Imagine a boy walking down the street to his home, to only notice the local drug dealer standing at the corner wearing the latest Jordans. He looks up and sees the rings, the diamond chains, and the wad of money being stuffed into the drug dealer’s pockets. He looks down to see his own shirt, crumpled and ripped, and his New Balance Sneakers from 2008. His desire for money grows and he approaches the drug dealer; becoming a product of his own environment. This is the story of many young men growing up in the projects. This is the story of Sean Carter. Sean Carter, better known as Jay-Z, is a man that grew up in the Marcy Projects of Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. Just like the boy in the story, he became a drug dealer when his want for money and power grew. Jay-Z turned to music to get away from the negativity that surrounded him. He stayed persistent, worked hard, and took risks which led him to build an empire worth almost $500 million dollars.
To be successful in America, many things are required and although everyone wants to be successful, a majority of people don’t actually know what it takes to get there. Some people say that earning a certain amount of money is considered success, but it is agreeable by most that everyone has their own definition of the word success. According to dictionary.com, success is the attainment of wealth, position or honor. After speaking to a woman named Cassidy, who is the Founder + Editor of naturalselectionblog.com, I gathered that success is not measured by accumulated wealth nor material possessions, but by the fulfillment you attain when you are doing the things you love. Even John Lennon once stated that happiness was the key to life. To be successful is to be happy with whatever you are doing and to do it well.
Although developing an opinion on success doesn’t require much effort, becoming successful isn’t as easy as it seems. If you think that you can buy success, you are sadly mistaken. Giving up easily, lack of self-confidence and having no plan is how you won’t become successful. You can’t expect things to be handed to you in life nor can you let your success get to your head. So many people end up living on the streets because they lose their humility and stop working hard for the things they want to achieve. Don’t feel like people owe you something because you helped them when they were in need. Chances are, they’re not even thinking about you. You want something done? You do it yourself. You be in control of your future. The people you surround yourself with also affects your level of success. You can’t want to be successful and have friends who have negativity mindsets and no goals in life because eventually, that will rub on to you. Surround yourself with people who are hungry. People that want their dreams to become reality just as bad as you do. People that will pick you up when you fall and remind you of how far you’ve come when you feel like giving up. If you allow the little things to distract you from your dreams, the big things will you eat alive and leave you with nothing but the clothes on your back.
To be successful, first off, you have to have a clear plan. Know what you want to do in life and how you plan to get it. Write down your goal and every week do something to get closer to that goal. Whether it’s putting in that extra hour of studying in high school so you can be a doctor one day, or studying the faces and walks of models so you can one day be on that Victoria Secret’s Runway; every little thing you do will bring you closer to your ultimate goal. Be fearless and take risks. There will be times that you will fail, but never allow yourself to fall to the point that you can’t get back up. No one ever got to the top by being afraid of failing. Out of failure comes lessons and out of lessons comes wisdom. You need to self-assured. And by self-assured I mean having confidence in the decisions you make and not questioning yourself. Once you figure out who you are and your place in this world, never allow another human being make you question your purpose. Stay persistent. Don’t stop or give up just because things aren’t going your way. When life gets harder, you have the choice to either crumble under the pressure or push harder; always choose to push harder and never give up. There is no success story without a story of struggle behind it. No one ever became successful without going through many nights of not knowing what’s next, of questioning their sanity, and of facing daily obstacles that continued to bring them down. But you know what makes them different than most? The fact that they got back up and continued to fight. They continued to believe in themselves when no one else believed in them. They worked hard and they fought with every last bit of strength they had.
Doing something you don’t love will always lead you down a path of unfulfillment. Don’t go to school to be a doctor if your passion is to be a dancer or an actress. Don’t let other people dictate who you have to be in life. You are the controller of your pain, your happiness, and your success. You decide what affects you and what doesn’t. Look in the mirror, you are in control of your future; don’t put it in someone else’s hands. Do what will bring YOU happiness. Robert Tew once said, “Small minds cannot comprehend big spirits. To be great, you have to be willing to be mocked, hated, and misunderstood. Stay strong.” People will hate you for doing what they can’t, people will ridicule you for doing what they don’t understand, people will try to bring you down; but if you believe in yourself, stay humble, work hard, be persistent, take risks and have faith, you can do anything your heart desires.
Success is not given to just anyone. Success is given to the special people in the world that wake up with a smile on their face even though they were crying the night before. Success is given to those that are ready to work hard and take the world and all of its challenges head on, without an ounce of fear in their soul.
Now that you’ve heard what I’ve had to say, answer me this… do you have what it takes to be successful in America?
Hats off to Stephanie for this moving and engaging speech! Let us know your thoughts on success in the comments. If you have an inspiring story, video or image to share, please drop me a line!