Moving Forward and Leveling Up in the Face of Darkness and Negativity

“There are motherfuckers out there that if you walked on water, they’d say it’s because you can’t swim.”  –  David Goggins 

No one articulates so succinctly like Goggins.  I thought I cursed a lot, but he might have me beat.  Where I’m from, it’s just part of the accent.  More importantly, a large part of my authenticity.

I grew up in a shit-hole neighborhood, but I’ve worked very hard to continuously level-up and improve my intelligence, character, skills, worldly wisdom, soul, and status.  Not easy when you’re surrounded by darkness, negativity, and the allure of the “wrong path”. 

Back to David Goggins’ quote: “There are motherfuckers out there that if you walked on water, they’d say it’s because you can’t swim.”  

When you come from the same place as others and you become “successful” (whatever that means to you), there’s a lot of mother*ckers who will spend their time and energy to tear you down.  Some will tell lies, talk shit, and discount your efforts, sacrifice, set-backs, struggles, resiliency, grit, and fortitude. 

I could have easily been a high-school dropout, in jail, or some barely-getting-by mother*cker complaining about how the world sucks, while believing that this is all I’m good enough to be.  It was all omnipresent and very easy.  I looked around and was acutely conscious and aware, especially of myself, so I did the uncomfortable stuff and there were times I was terrified and felt stupid.  I had to cast ego and pride aside. 

I was able to go to a high school, far outside of my district that I’m very proud of.  I lived pretty far away and had to take the elevated train (El) to get there.  I made some great friends and still in contact with some to this day, but back then, I felt in my heart that I wasn’t on their level.  While I was strong and confident physically, I felt sub-par socially and on a socioeconomic level.  But, I did my best to fake it and fit in.  I’m extremely grateful for their acceptance and friendship.  I’ve never said this before, but there it is.  I love you motherf*ckers.

Then there are those who haven’t seen you in ten, twenty, or even thirty years or more who want to remember the negative parts about who you were back then (you could’ve been twelve), mistakes you made and dumb shit you did (everybody does dumb shit), because they want to tear down who you’ve become.  This is their weakness and insecurity.  The don’t know and don’t want to acknowledge the current person they’re talking about, even though they haven’t interacted with them in any way in decades.  Sad shit. 

They’ll say you got lucky and you hear things like, “It must be nice …”.  Yeah, it is f*cking nice.  It’s real nice now and what I have is not lost on me.  I’m grateful everyday for it.  But, “nice” took doing and all the other shit I just mentioned.  Is it hard?  Was it hard?  Yes.  So what? 

They won’t do the hard stuff.  Excuses and complaining are much easier.  And … I get it.  Where I came from, everyone, and not just neighbors, “friends”, criminals I knew, and people I went to school with; but, even family members would say things like, “Good luck with that” with a sarcastic, dismissive and arrogant chuckle.  When you’re surrounded by this negativity everyday for years and years, it’s hard not to succumb and believe you’re nothing more than what you are.

A few years ago, I was talking with a SWAT instructor at the Orlando PD who also did new-recruit lie detector tests, and he said to me, “You know, you’re a different person every ten years?”  He was an old-school guy with a lot of grit and hardness.  Awesome dude.  I recently read an article on NPR about a psychology researcher at Harvard named Daniel Gilbert.  The title read, “You can’t see it, but you’ll be a different person in 10 years”.  In the article, Gilbert said, “Life is a process of growing and changing, what our results suggest is that growth and change never really stops.”          

Definitely true for me.  I continue to slay my demons, processing guilt and regret.  I continue to learn, train, travel, endeavor, research, read, write (it’s therapeutic), practice, and keep moving forward.  Along the way, I’ve built relationships with really good friends.  I’m grateful for these people; love and respect. 

I recently heard Sadhguru say this and I think it resonates here; he said, “Your reputation exists in other people’s minds.  You cannot control their vision that they made of your reputation.  But, if it enters your mind, it’s over; you lose.  Your yesterday does not sell today.  Some people believe that yesterday is today.  Let others believe that, but not you.”


Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

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