Last Saturday, I had the honor of being captured by Humans of San Antonio (HOSA), an artistic and humanistic initiative with roots in NYC. I had just finished leading my weekly meditation group at The Historic Pearl and was about to continue my typical Saturday morning dance by grabbing some fresh veggies and goods at the Pearl Farmers Market. That's when Michael Cirlos III, founder of HOSA, caught up with me. He had great questions: What do you do? What did you just come from? What inspires you? What is one hardship you feel great about overcoming?
He really made me think.
I talked mostly about my professional life, my recent adventures in self-branding, the benefits of meditation, and my fantasy of becoming an off-grid mango farmer in Hawaii. There was one experience I also talked about, though, that since he published I've been thinking a lot about.
When I was in band in high school, I was told that I couldn't make the drum line because I was too weak, as a girl. I don't think a girl had been on the drum line previously in our small town and it does take a lot of forearm and hand muscles to control the sticks and carry the drum. The boys so naturally made the drum line because of their build. I, on the other hand, was really bad at controlling the sticks and could barely lift the drum because I had no meat on my bones. It seemed pretty bleak, but I felt angry-inspired. Why can't I be the first? Why should a gender-based limitation prevent me from doing something I feel passionate about?
Besides my normal self-doubt and the discouragement from my peers, the real barrier was just one thing: muscle tone. Part of that is genetic and part was under my control. The solution, then? Toning up. I borrowed my mom's 3lb weights and used them in place of drumsticks for an entire summer. My paradiddles were on point! When drum line tryouts happened, I impressed a lot of boys by making my way onto the snare line, where I stayed. It was consistently more difficult for me than it was for the guys; I tripped a lot, was sore and bruised all the time, struggled much more with everything...but I made it and that's what mattered. This showed me that if you're motivated, creative, willing to drop the self-doubt and face the struggle, you can find effective ways around almost all barriers.
This experience changed the way I looked at other challenges in later stages of my life. I had more faith that if I just worked hard, even when it was not fun, something good would eventually come. In fact, figures of authority told me I wasn't good enough for the following things so "don't try" (but I did):
1) Getting into University of Miami: Well, after a struggle, I did get in and received amazing training. It led to getting the chance to live in Miami & Boston, a Harvard fellowship, a Ph.D. and interesting areas of focus in which I never imagined I would have the opportunity to be involved.
2) Modeling: Well, I did take the plunge on this too after lots of work in the beginning. I had the experience of being an agency-represented runway model in Miami for 5 years, which taught me lots about myself, the world of fashion, women in general, and the discrepancy between real life and what we see in magazines (stay tuned for a blog entry on this soon...).
I had to work hard to get to both of those points and and stay there because I wasn't as competitive or didn't have the training some others did, but I embraced the hurdles, leaned on my support system, worked hard, and eventually succeeded. In reflecting on my personal challenges, I realize my barriers have been very small compared to what some people face and overcome. Intellectual and physical disability come to mind, which remind me of these people making recent news for overcoming their specific barriers:
- Jamie Brewer - The first model with Down Syndrome walking New York Fashion Week 2015
- Viktoria Modesta - Pop star with a below-knee amputation and accessories for it (watch the vid)
- Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge - taking injured vets on big adventures (Mt. Kilimanjaro?!)
Can we just take a second for Viktoria Modesta...Go girl! What a great example of how you can redefine your life and change the way others think at the same time. This goes for the other two as well. Hack your mind, hack your life, y'all. Changing your perspective not only changes the way we see the world, but also how we behave in the world, and consequently, how others behave toward us.
So how do you overcome your specific barriers? It's pretty simple to create a focused plan if you're willing to face it and try. And if you're willing to try, anything is possible. Take a look at the following and apply it to your life:
1) What is your goal? And are you passionate about it? (Passion means you will work hard...)
2) What is keeping you from your goal? Why haven't you achieved it yet? (Find the specific barrier)
3) What kind of barrier is it?
- Is it mental?
- Is it physical? gender, orientation, body-related
- Is it placed on you by someone else?
- Is it time-related?
5) Take action, even if small.
We all have limitations. This doesn't mean we can't excel, it just means we have to identify what exactly we need to work harder at and then keep doing it. Struggle is necessary. My dad has always said "you grow the most when things are the hardest" and I've really come to understand and believe that. I believe we too often lose faith in ourselves and settle for something less or something safe, when what we could do to achieve our dreams is waiting just around the corner. Look for that, find it, harness it, and don't fear the struggle....because often our weaknesses, if faced and worked through, open doors to strengths we could not have imagined.
>>>Want some help in working through barriers to achieve your goals? That's one of the things I help clients do in 1:1 sessions via Skype or in person. Email me & mention this blog for a free consultation: DrLB@drlindsaybira.com