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Are success & failure even in my control?

When you’re faced with adversity in your life or business, do you let the hit take you out of the game? Or do you brush yourself off & fight back even harder?

Did you ever have to participate in the dreaded “field day” competitions in elementary school? I remember my 5th grade field day so vividly, I feel like it was yesterday, not 18 years ago. It was the last competition of the day. I hadn’t won a single ribbon yet & it was 5th grade, so I’d be graduating to middle school next year. It was my last opportunity to win a ribbon at this highly coveted competition... I couldn’t let that opportunity pass me by.

I was never a particularly athletic child growing up & really only liked to participate in the activities I was naturally talented at. This field day was different though. I had to take home a ribbon or it would mean I went through all of elementary school without ever collecting a “gold star” at one of these athletic competitions. The last event of the day: jump rope competition.

“I’ve got this one,” I thought to my gangly, undisciplined 11 year old self. Jump rope was my thing. I was good at it & it never felt hard to me. I watched the other competitors tap out, one by one. I was starting to visualize the ribbon hanging from my backpack & proudly showing my mom when I saw her after school. Only five of us left. Then four… I only needed to hang around for third place in order to get a ribbon, so I had just one person left to wait out. None of the other competitors were giving in… my legs were tired, my desire for the ribbon was waning. There were still four of us left & nobody else was acting tired at all. My legs started to shake. My emotions welled up inside me. “CAN’T SOMEBODY JUST DROP OUT,” I yelled internally, starting to panic.

Then, it happened, just like it had so many times before; I quit.

I dropped the jump rope & fell to my knees on that hot, Florida asphalt. “Well, I quit again. That wasn’t fair though. Those other kids were all just better at jump rope than me.” I spent the rest of the day mulling over all the reasons those kids beat me. They were faster, stronger, had eaten a better breakfast, didn’t have to sit outside as long as I did, were boys, were on athletic teams… basically any excuse that didn’t have to do with ME.

This didn’t stop in middle school though. It lasted well into my adult life. I can recall quitting soccer in high school before tryouts were even done. I remember having an “injury” during a track meet, so I didn’t have to finish a race. When things got tough, I threw in the towel and gave up in just about every aspect of my life.

Up until my mid-20s, I constantly considered myself the victim; always looking at what others had done to me or what life had thrown at me as if I was the only one in the world facing challenges. If things didn’t come easy, it wasn’t that I needed to try harder or put in more effort, it was simply that I wasn’t good at it, but it was never my fault.

I did a lot of growing starting around the age of 24. This was when my anxiety and depression were either going to take me out of the game of life, or I would have to learn to fight back. Thankfully, I went with the latter… I learned to fight back. I learned that I wasn’t the victim in life and viewing myself that way was the worst thing I could possibly do for myself.

I decided one day that I would never be the girl who just lets life happen to her, blaming every circumstance around her for her misfortunes. I decided in that single day that I would own my life. I committed to owning my success and my failure.

Now, when life throws a challenge my way, I think about how I can comeback from it stronger than I was before. I don’t look at situations from the viewpoint of, “why did this happen to me,” but rather, “how am I going to turn this negative event into the best thing that ever happened?”

It’s empowering to truly feel like you can take any punch thrown your way… even the ones that feel like they’re aimed straight at your face & seem to come in rounds of 5 or 6 instead of just a single blow.

I can look back on the person I once was, with the victim mentality, and honestly say I have outgrown her. She’s just a memory now; a former self.

So as I go into this new week, a new month, & a new plan for my business, I take it on with excitement & determination, knowing I have the right mindset to overcome any challenges life throws my way.

Do you let adversity stop you from chasing your dreams? Or are you going to use it to make you stronger & more determined?

Not giving up, even when it feels impossible, is what has enabled me to go from using my camera in automatic, truly clueless about lighting or posing, taking images like this one on the left, to the photographer who is confident in just about any situation, creating artwork, like this image on the right.

Determination, and doing the really scary, difficult things are what allowed me to go from the terrified rider on the left, literally in tears going over a cross rail, to the rider I am today, able to conquer 3' fences with excitement & confidence!

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill

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