While trying to muster up an interesting, inspiring, or just entertaining story to write about, nothing worthy came to mind. I had fleeting thoughts of this-or-that, and started a few paragraphs about who-what-when’s that were influential to me. None of it was illuminating though. So, I stepped away from the desk and went back to reading a book. Then, three pages in, I realized it wasn’t any particular event or circumstance that has made me who I am today, it was everything.
You see, I came from an average-sized and conservative city, and was raised by a status-quo-breaking mother. She was firm, but always intentional with her words and actions. Above the rest though, she had the talent of offering her advice, but always allowed me to seek my own ways. That led to some years of feeling lost, and some years of feeling like I was in my prime. I moved from here to there, coast to coast, and now at the age of 23, I have moved cross-country 10 times since I left home, and am preparing for the eleventh (and hopefully final) move.
Along the way I had the experience of escaping an abusive father who eventually allowed me to learn the value of love, and that it should never be something you have to “earn“. A few years later a politico taught me the sublime value of truth and honesty, no matter what others will do to you. Then a business man inspired the first feelings of true love in me, and later taught me the reality of heartbreak and the power of following one’s intuition. Later a minister instilled her knowledge of how not to preach but to inspire, which is more precious than any sermon. And I’ve been graced with a friend who has stood by me through thick and thin, always coaching me along, and never wavering in her love for me. Those people and countless others are the ones who brought me along, and made me the man I am today.
I’ve realized that personal worth isn’t in the obstacles you’ve faced, the pain you’ve endured, or the careless flow on which you may have floated through life. True worth, is based on the greatness you find within yourself, but even more so in the greatness you inspire in others. Money, friends, extravagance, and celebrity can all be thrilling and tempting. I know, I’ve been tempted by all I listed, and fell into a few of them for a short while. At the close of the day though, when I lay in my bed alone, I sleep best knowing that I made the most of the hours of that day, not only for me but for other people. By sharing love and compassion, I forgave myself for my mistakes and am stronger now.
The lesson I have learned and want to share, is that no matter who you are, where you are, what has happened, or what has yet to happen, it’s all happened to you for a reason. You have the ability and the will to take those hardships and those high times and use them to motivate all those around you. From small towns, or from big cities, hatred is everywhere. But so is compassion. We will never be the ones we strive to be if we turn back to those who hurt us, and hurt them. Instead, have pride in who you are and where you’ve been, and how you made it through that hard time. Or how you will make it through the hard time.
Be ever proud, ever strong, and ever willing to love.