"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.
Jeremy Dodson is a Track & Field Olympian who struggles with the idea of perfection, hoping to break the barrier we place on ourselves so that genuine living can take place for everyone.