I've often pondered these questions myself. At 23, I realize I've accomplished many goals in my life.
Many things I've set out to do, and was so passionate about throughout the years, I can actually say that I've achieved. Unfortunately, not everyone can say that.
Some people have a certain undeniable ability to see obstacles as a challenge, reach for the stars and OVERCOME, while others cringe at the thought of ever leaving the starting gate.
To get a better understanding I had to take a good hard look at myself as well as others around me. Ever since I was born, I fought an uphill battle. A stroke at birth caused me to have Cerebral Palsy, resulting in hemiplegia of my left side. So from an early age it was instilled in me to become a fighter.
|What Are Hemiplegia & Cerebral Palsy?|
It was literally fight or otherwise have what doctors deemed to be a drastically reduced quality of life.
Lucky for me I had great parents that helped facilitate this growth. If not for them, I may have never walked and been wheelchair bound like a lot of individuals in similar situations.
This is also why Kyle Maynard has been a great inspiration to me. He was born with a rare disorder called, Congenital Amputation and only has three major joints: a neck and two shoulders.
| Congenital Amputation:
Loss of a fetal limb. This condition may be the result of the constriction of fibrous bands within the membrane that surrounds the developing fetus (amniotic band syndrome) or the exposure to substances known to cause birth defects (teratogenic agents). Other factors, including genetics, may also play a role. Also called birth amputation, intrauterine amputation.
Despite this fact, Kyle has persevered and has done pretty much everything he's wanted to achieve to date including becoming a Georgia State champion wrestler.
Much like Kyle, my parents knew very early on they could not coddle me. It was for my own well-being that I had to find ways to cope and adapt to my surroundings. I didn't start walking until I was about 3 1/2. Until that time, no one knew for sure how developmentally delayed I might be.
The prognosis of my life was literally up in the air. Yet somehow my parents held on to the dream that someday I could do and be whatever I wanted.
I can still remember to this day going to the Shriners Hospital and being hooked up to the hundreds of electrodes all over my legs in an effort to monitor my gait.
This was to see exactly when my muscles were firing and in what order. To say the least, it was a nightmare of excruciating pain. Looking back, I relate this to modern day Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS), however this was much stronger.
A process that uses low amperage electrical current to stimulate your muscles to contract and to relax.
It was as if you were the doctor's puppet. They would fire certain muscles for you and then tell you to walk. At that age I obviously didn't understand but I did as I was told. I persevered because I had no other choice.
The struggle to adapt and push through my shortcomings has been a life long process, a process still going on today.
Through talking to people I often find that those with similar disabilities, whether it is physical or mental, often don't have the same outlook. There is no middle ground. It's either they have a positive attitude or they always have a chip on their shoulder.
Some feel the need to be negative because the world "owes them something". Going through a traumatic event comes to mind, such as an accident where there is a loss of a limb. I can't say I blame those for feeling that way.
It's only natural and would be hard to cope. You want what others have, or in this case perhaps your old life back. It's a fact of life, some aren't as fortunate as others.
Believe me, I've had my head up my behind too. But you know what? You have to ante-up. I've learned that the grass is always greener on the other side.
Why handicap yourself more by thinking negatively? That's the true nature of a disability. A disability is the inability to do something, the inability to think positively.
I'm very handicapable. With my attitude I can do anything, I've proved it. I've gone out there and dug in the trenches myself. I've gotten dirty through my own blood, sweat, and tears. I've actually worked for everything I have, and I think that's what truly defines me.
Perhaps those who fold against what seems to be insurmountable odds, do so because they've grown comfortable with society's theory of instant gratification.
Look at our culture, it's everywhere. Heck, many of the supplement companies out there cater to this! Take a pill for this, take a pill for that.
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Although basic supplementation is fine in my book to promote health, it has been my latest opinion that most everything else could be considered a crutch.
In fact I know for some people, this is definitely the case. Whatever happened to that feeling you get when you know you accomplished something for yourself? To me there is nothing greater.
Yet many don't know what hard work and perseverance really takes. They fail to capitalize on their own ability for success because they never learned to cope on their own with their backs against the wall.
They've always relied on others for help, or taken shortcuts for short-term gains under the assumption if I can't buy it, I don't want it.
This paradigm finally caught up with a friend. For now I will call this person "Ryan". Ryan was a perfect example. He lived down the hall from me my Sophomore year at college.
Ryan was always down on his luck and his negativity showed in all aspects of his life. Most of his problems I perceived to be because of his weight problem.
He would watch me every night religiously as I walked passed his room at a quarter of nine on my way to the recreation center. Upon my return he would always ask me what I did or what the best way to lose weight was, and because I am the person that I am, I would always tell him.
Finally one day it occurred to me, why not invite Ryan to go to the gym with me. Reluctantly, after much convincing he finally went. I could tell he wasn't into it much when I saw him using the hamstring curl machine for biceps!
But hey, everyone has to get their start somewhere. So I continued to show him the ropes and gave him a solid nutritional plan.
No more late night pizza binges and 44 oz. colas. After a little more than a month he told me he felt confident enough to go at it on his own, and for all intents and purposes I believed him since he seemed to be making some progress. I seriously devoted time into this kid and was confident I made an impact on him.
Well, what do you know? Two weeks later I asked his roommate how he thought Ryan was doing. He looked at me with a blank stare... I was like you know, the gym. He said, "Dude, Ryan hasn't set foot in the gym since the day you stopped going with him".
"Yeah right," I replied. "He tells me everyday about the progress he's made... eating protein this, protein that".
"Jordan, they were all lies man. Just last night he ate a whole pizza by himself again. He just didn't have the heart to tell you".
So that whole time I got nothing but excuses. I'm not lying when I say I took it to heart. I felt as though I gave him all the tools he needed to make a positive change, yet for some reason Ryan kept worrying about why he couldn't lose weight, instead of focusing on what it took to actually make it happen for himself. It was just a vicious cycle he could not break.
All his life he was told he was fat, and this worked on his mind constantly. He was too used to being gratified instantaneously. Sadly, I realized you can lead a horse to water, but you can't always make it drink.
We bodybuilders know this is a sport of longevity. You win by attrition. Nothing replaces the hard work you put into it. For real results, there are no shortcuts.
In the end, I've learned that even with the best environment, true passion needs to come from within. Facilitating growth just doesn't happen if there is nothing to spark the flame. You have to want it.
By staying positive and visualizing what you want your life to be like, you can take that energy with you and make a commitment to yourself that you will OVERCOME any obstacle life brings your way.
Anything is possible with the right attitude. You have but one life; it is yours for the taking. Take the wheel and drive from within!