If we became only what other people thought we would become, many of us would have never achieved half of our accomplishments. Somewhere through the negative noise and circumstances, I told myself that I was going to make something out of nothing. Some of this came from positive television shows that depicted the awesomeness of college and success, along with great movies that showed the underdog coming out triumphant every time. Looking back now, that was a window out of my dark world and into an opportunity that helped create my ambitious spirit. We become what we see around us. I was influenced by more than just the images I saw on TV, but by amazing people who used their gifts to love and lead me.
An aunt that I grew up around always expected excellence from me. My aunt spoke to me in a way that helped me to see the greatness in myself. I always felt like she was my personal guardian angel, but she used her gifts to support and encourage her friends, family, and students . Being around her always made me strive for more, despite anything that I was going through at the time. The seeds of success had been planted by family and teachers throughout my life, but while I was in high school my aunt tilled and cultivated my intellectual, emotional, and social garden. She did not allow me to make excuses or pity myself. She helped me to see the lessons in my negatives and taught me how to use them as positives in my future. She allowed me to speak freely, but did not allow me to retain that bitterness and anger that permeated my soul at times.
These important moments in my life taught me that no matter what others said I would or would not be, what others assumed I could or could not achieve, or whatever things I did not have were not determinative of my success. When I went off to college, I did not have anyone pushing me to be the best. The first semester I coasted through and ended up with mediocre grades. I had to refocus myself, decide if college was where I wanted to be, and step up to the plate to prove to MYSELF that I belonged at Howard. There were so many times when I wanted to give up, but I had to remind myself that I was built to win and the end result would be worth the sacrifice.
Many times we allow others to set expectations for us. We live up to the standards that are set by those around us. If the expectations are high and we do not achieve it or if the expectations are low and we exceed them, our success or failures could become a stumbling block to getting to our true purpose. If you want the most out of life, YOU have to expect more out of yourself and follow your heart, not just simply achieving what others want for you. People may see you working hard and admire you, but you know if you need to put in more work to get to the next level. Outsiders may exalt you for what you have done, but you have to remain focused on where it is that you want to end up. People may laugh at your failures and remind you of where you said you would be, but only bitter people measure your failures against their standard of success. Remain driven, passionate, and ambitious to not lose sight of your dreams.
Expect greatness from yourself. Walk in excellence. Speak positively. Teach willingly. Live in humility. Give your all to everything that matters to you most.
Set your own expectations. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.