“My biggest fear growing up and to this very day is letting down the people who relied on me and believed in me, especially my father.”

This is a quote from my book Reflections from the Man in the Mirror.  A quote I wrote almost two years ago but remains at the core of my heart.  This fear started when I used to fight with my brother Nick and saw the pain I caused my family.  It continued when I brought home my report cards to my parents with consistently disappointing results.  And it only grew stronger through college.  It was like each time I fell short of others expectations for me, that fear grew tenfold.  Instead of changing my approach, I just accepted that was who I must be…

That fear turned to reality more often than not.  I refused to acknowledge that the effort I invested in change may in fact be the key to relinquishing that fear.  Instead, I began to embrace that I may just be destined for failure.  The concept of having control of my own future was not something I was willing to accept (at least not yet).  I felt lost.  I felt like whichever direction  I turned, I came up short of everyone’s expectation.  Everyone’s except my own because I refused to set expectations for myself.  That way I couldn’t let myself down.  Man was I wrong.

I began to master the art of excuses.  I embraced the philosophy that my “misfortunes” were everybody’s fault but my own.  I took no fault in not being where I wanted to be in life.   I bought so heavily into the “power” of excuses that I was actually elected “best excuse maker” in my high school yearbook.  What an accomplishment, right?

I was so proud of this at the time.  I was on top of the world because nobody even challenged my excuses anymore.  I assumed that must have been because I had gotten so good at them.  But the moment I felt like I was on top of a mountain, I suddenly came crashing down the other side.  It hit me like freight train that maybe it wasn’t that people accepted my excuses but rather accepted that was just the type of person I was.  Someone who was unwilling to accept responsibility for any aspect of their life.  Someone who was unreliable.  Someone who didn’t bother challenging themselves to fix their mistakes and just accepted their fate.  What if they had just given up on me?

The hardest part to swallow was that I knew I had given up on myself, so how could I be upset when others quit on me?

When it comes down to it, I realized we have to choices in life when we don’t like the path we’re on…

  1.  Simply put, we do something about it.  Whether your a teenager or a grown adult.  You take accountability for where you are and you decide it’s time for change.
  2. We blame the world around us and accept our fate.

The first step in change is understanding that we can’t change our past.  Regardless of how hard we try, it will NEVER change.  Don’t waste your time beating yourself up about yesterday when you can pour that effort into today.  Understand that mistakes are inevitable.  You can’t prevent them, but we can learn from them.  Lastly, change starts now.  Tomorrow is a blessing not a guarantee.  Embrace the opportunity you have in front of you and carry with you one of my father’s most notorious quotes…

“Opportunity is like a sunrise, if you wait too long…you’ll miss it.

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