In a perfect world, there is no sickness, no poverty, discrimination or violence. It’s a world that unfortunately will never exist. Utopia is a dream that many aspire for but the reality is that along with the thoughts of a perfect world, presents the dilemma of not accepting people as imperfect. Do we really want to be so perfect that being different is unacceptable?
I love watching the Special Olympics. I also watch all kinds of sports and enjoy watching as my favorite teams or athletes win. My heart aches for them as they lose but it reminds me that nothing in this world is ever guaranteed except for death and taxes. Over the last few days, weeks, and months my world has dramatically changed. I’ve now lost two people in my life that were inspirational to me. One lost a fight with cancer. The other I have been like a sister with ever since 1992. Gene died sometime last month and I just found out today that his body was found yesterday. I don’t know if it was his epilepsy that killed him or if he died of natural causes. All I know is that no matter what obstacles he faced, he triumphed by living his life to the fullest.
I think there’s a part of us that’s naturally instilled to overcome obstacles. Every day is a triumph that we are alive. Every moment in time brings us tribulations. You don’t have to be an athlete to achieve success. You just have to believe in yourself and try. Failure is the key to success. If we don’t allow ourselves to fail, we can’t allow ourselves triumph. Nothing in this world is perfect and yet the world strives for perfection. You can execute a task perfectly and someone will still try to find flaws.
As a baby, we learn how to sharpen our skills by learning to walk, talk, trust, and try. Toddlers get into everything. To them, this world is ripe for adventure. Everything is something to be explored and conquered. As we grow, some of us are driven to keep pushing that envelope as far as we can while others just exist. Some folks don’t discover their purpose until later but the point of the matter is that every single individual on this earth has skills that are needed by someone else.
Reading has always been easy for me. Speed reading became something that I embraced. My dad taught me when I was ten how to speed read and I’ve never looked back. However, there are dangers with this. Sometimes my speed reading causes me to miss valuable information. It’s beneficial if I’m grading papers when I work for educational research purposes but it’s a deterrent when I’m trying to process vital information that I need in order to complete certain tasks. As long as I’m interested in the topic, I can fly through the material but it I’m not interested, it becomes a different issue. Reading has been a triumph for me. It’s opened doors to endless possibilities and it’s allowed me to explore a part of myself that I never knew existed. I have friends that this is not the case for them. Reading is difficult. They have to work five times as hard as I do in order to read and retain material. This doesn’t stop them from trying and that in itself is worthy of their own triumph and tribulation.
I have the privilege of working as a volunteer with an organization called Empowered Girls of NC. This organization is bringing opportunities to young girls ages 5-18 who benefit from their program with college scholarships and other opportunities. Not only is this organization helping to change young girls lives, but also women like me who struggled with their own identity. See, this organization shows that it doesn’t matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc., a person may be. All that matters is that they are willing to try new things and push themselves for growth. Without growth, we don’t expand and without expansion, nothing grows. When companies and groups start downsizing, everyone loses. When companies and individuals grow, we all win. Can you imagine a world today without cell phones? I can. I lived it until the late 80’s. Someone had the vision to create a world where we could talk on phones from anywhere. That vision became a triumph and tribulation.
As a kid, I did great in school until middle school. I didn’t understand how to make the transition. I had always been in the smart groups but when I got to middle school, I had competition. I didn’t know how to do the things the school wanted me to. I got scared and I let myself be bullied by a counselor who belittled me at every opportunity. It took me years to understand the root of the problems. Once I identified the problem, I started figuring out solutions. I learned that I am in control of me. No one else has that power. The same is true for each of you. You control yourself. No one else has the power to control your actions. You can determine how you are going to approach each day and the mindset that you enter the day with.
I’ve been afraid of being alone for a long time. I have struggled because my heart knows exactly what it wants but I have let fear and trepidation keep me from doing certain things because my own demons have burbled up and I’ve allowed those emotions to guide me. Now, I’m finally coming to terms with who I am and what I can achieve. I’m seeing that I’m a woman of worth, who has a loving heart and makes mistakes. I see that I’m a survivor of rape, a survivor of drugs and a woman who was bullied for a lot of her life. When I look in the mirror now, I don’t see the scared young woman who represented my face and body for years. I see a woman with curves, a woman who is confident and can help change lives for the better. There is an empowerment within me that has risen to the top of the waters and for the first time, I see a woman of distinction within myself. This is the point we all have to get to. It is only with true self love, that we can find ourselves flying to unbelievable heights.
Going back to the sports illustration, I love gymnastics. Simone Biles astonishes me. She defies gravity on so many different levels. She’s pushing the sports to new heights. She is tiny in stature but powerful, determined, and relentless in her pursuit to make herself the best she can be. She doesn’t limit herself. She defines herself with grace, poise, professionalism, and recognizes that she’s still a kid. Her entire childhood has been about competing and she’s been blessed with a family who has supported her. She knows it and is extremely grateful and humble for every opportunity she has received but those opportunities were earned. Nothing was handed to her on a silver platter. It is through this kind of heart and embodiment of practice over and over that she has been able to defy expectations.
In basketball and other sports, teams must work together in order to win their games. Not every game they play will be won, but when a team comes together and creates a world of experiences, we all see triumph in their eyes. Each person on the team is practicing to sharpen their skills. There is a love for whatever game they are playing that shines through in their performance. It’s much like acting. Actors have to practice their craft. In fact, there are no careers where skills are not needed. Each of us has to practice our craft until we are the best at what we offer. Otherwise, we are just existing.
The biggest triumph and tribulation I want to share with each of you is that all of you contribute to someone’s joy or sorrow. The impression we leave on each other is one that can have positive or negative impacts in the long run. I’m grateful for this life. I’m grateful that the people I love are able to communicate and live their lives to the fullest. I have cousins scattered all throughout the US and while I don’t see them, I celebrate with them as they accomplish things in their lives that mean a lot to them, as I hope they celebrate my accomplishments. My friends are a constant source of support and love. I celebrate with them with their achievements and want them to be the best version of themselves that they choose to be. Some of my friends are hitting extremely difficult times. But even in the difficult days, there is a triumph. Every day that we get up and get out of bed is an accomplishment. Seeking assistance for things that weigh us down is an accomplishment and triumph. Recognizing self – worth is a gigantic accomplishment.
Some of you don’t struggle with self confidence and self – worth. If you don’t, bravo. But I guarantee you that you know others who do and you probably don’t have anything to do with them. It’s difficult to be around people with negativity. I know because I am dealing with this issue with a couple of very dear friends. What you have to remember is that they are trying to find the positives in their lives and if you completely walk away, it may help you in the long run, but will it help others? Every situation and person is different. You have to choose the path that is right for you. Only you can answer that.
When it comes down to the nitty gritty, life in itself presents triumphs and tribulations daily. We just have to be willing to see those triumphs and recognize our own gifts, our strengths, and our contributions to making the world a better place for all of us.