"Courage is fear that said its prayers and went forward anyways."
You may not know, but I had a goal to do my very own TedTalk. Watching a podcast is part of my morning regimen, so I dreamed of being a speaker someday. Although I am an introvert and find large crowds confusingly overwhelming, talking on stage to hundreds is a lot easier than meaningless small talk with random people. Either way, I was on my way to reaching that goal when schedules didn’t play into my favor. World Championships took precedence, international competitions came calling, something of slightly more importance always showed up, and my energy had to be diverted.
As time continues, I’m losing my confidence of ever reaching this goal, but not due to discouragement. With my brain condition comes numerous side effects, some I seen early, and some I will hopefully never experience. But one that I am noticing more as time moves, is my inability to speak properly. There’s always talk of eventual speech therapy by doctors, but I always thought that would be for later years. Apparently, those “later years” are soon to come.
Alongside the signs of deteriorating speech comes a constant battle of forgiving myself of my past. I’ve been involving myself in future projects and jobs, but the feeling of unworthiness screams loudly as I have been asked to talk about my background. Although my name has been cleared of wrongdoing, my subconscious continues to jab my heart and fear begins to develop, causing the thoughts of ever sharing my talents to rapidly dissolve. Who would want me to share my talents? Why would anyone ever want or care for me to share my talents? Am I sure I even have talents to share?
When we fail to use and share the gifts we possess, a sense of disconnection and emptiness is the result. A lot of us get frustrated with life, resentful of the happiness of others, and we even feel shame and disappointment with ourselves. We may turn to God and wonder why the distance is so great or the silence so prevalent. The feeling of aimless floating may be constant.
Culture has a large list of what we are supposed to do as citizens, so the first step of even defining and validating our gifts can be difficult. A lot of the talents we want to share with the world don’t necessarily pay bills. Or, the talents and gifts we have isn’t as great as the Oprah Winfrey talents we see constantly in the media.
Culture also has a way of defining us by our work titles. The question of, “What do you do,” serves as an introduction of who we are and limits our entire being into just one phrase. A CEO is not just a CEO, an author is not just an author, and certainly an Olympian is not just an Olympian. But, for some reason we are forced to accept that one phrase as the definition of who we are and how we should live.
Deep down, nobody cares how you pay your bills. Instead, we want to know what makes your heart smile and how you fully live your life.
To live a life of fullness requires us to acknowledge and handle our fears and doubts. If you are unaware of your gifts and talents, then perhaps you aren’t listening to yourself clearly. We forget that this distant God we have been searching for, lives within us. The spiritual connection we have been searching for is felt and made apparent when we share the gifts we’ve been blessed with.
Nevertheless, the struggle with looking within ourselves is that surrounding the depths of our hearts also lies the presence of fear. Instead of dealing with that fear, we would create distractions by keeping ourselves extremely busy, hoping that we would find solidarity outside of our minds, and never have to deal with the harsh comments of your own self. It takes courage to move forward, despite the fear and doubts. If you can find a way to make your gifts pay the bills, even better. But what use is it to be given life and experience none of the joys it has to offer.
Fear will be there. Doubts will make itself apparent. What you do with those entities determines your fulfillment. I acknowledge the fact that I may never be on stage again to inspire thousands, but that won’t stop me from conveying my thoughts and creating inspiration within others.
My gift is to inspire through the realization of connection. Your gift could be to love by art. Make a list of work that truly inspires you. Forget about what is best for making a living because there’s nothing that says you must quit your job to cultivate meaningful work. What else are you besides a CEO or a Bank Teller. Define your passions and live it for the world; live it for your world.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Ill sleep when I die.” If you haven’t heard it, then consider yourself lucky and a step ahead of the rest. For those who go by this saying, realize that the deepest sleep you will ever have will come sooner than you think if you continue this line of thought.
With the holidays at full commencement, I’m sure Americans are feeling the drag of family visits and abnormal routines, especially this Thanksgiving weekend. And if you are like me, the weekend went faster than normal and the hope to catch up on sleep was impossible. Also, if you’re like me, your body is screaming fatigue and yearning for sleep. Should you choose to listen or not will determine how your following week, days and even hours turn out.
The perception of getting sleep to catch a dream or two is lazy or unproductive, because as we all have been told, time is money. But when you think clearly about it, what money is to be gained if your brain is functioning only at half capacity? Continue to deprive your body of sleep and your body will find a way to turn itself on you; ask anyone with a severe condition.
During medical treatments for my brain condition, I refused to take any sort of medication because of the potential side effects that could occur (also because I couldn’t afford the prescriptions and I wanted to keep running). What use is enjoying life if you’re in constant state of hallucinations and body malfunctions. Majority of us are constantly in that state when we choose to not make sleep a priority.
We’ve all heard how inadequate sleep can put you at risk for high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, etc. But we also know that a few slices of that Thanksgiving pie can do the same, or even a few shots of that favorite drink. So, we just slide it into the category of Things that Take all the Fun out of Life.
Instead, perception needs to be changed and sleep needs to be the new dessert. I feel selfish in everything I do already, especially when running is too fun to be considered a real job. However, I feel even worse when I am cranky and everyone I meet takes the grunt. I feel horrible when a huge decision is to be made only to later learn the wrong decision was made. I even feel guilty when I can’t tell a beautiful woman she is the “girl of my dreams” if I haven’t been sleeping enough to even conjure up such a dream.
Through harsh training days and even worse post-chemo evenings, I’ve learn to listen to the heart (physically) and sought to make sleep a priority and not a secondary hassle. Just as eating is necessary, so is sleep. Let’s go back to the days as kids where naps were hated, but the moment after a deep nap, we gained the energy of 12 Power Rangers and nothing could stop us. Whether it is finding better nutrition to aid in quality sleep, or enduring cognitive behavioral treatment to even get us to sleep, the investment of sleep will eventually pay its dividends. Let’s go back to the days when success was forecasted through dreams and life was all about making those dreams reality.
Jeremy Dodson is an Olympic Track & Field sprinter with a Master's in Business Administration, and Bachelor's in Sociology, Economics, and Neurophysiology.