I probably think about life too much, ponder issues in the world excessively, and spend too many hours nose deep in research; however, I make no apologies because that is who I am. When you know who you are, your actions are very distinguishable as yours. You are driven by forces that keep you from conforming. If there were no money or recognition in the world, you would still be the same you, doing the same things. This makes success fulfilling. When we look at people who are successful in whatever sense of the word “wealthy, accomplished or happy, fulfilled,” you will notice that they have a couple things in common: 1. they failed over and over 2. they often had one “yes” or “ah-ha moment” that changed their trajectory.
I have thought about this for myself. I have gotten so many messages since opening up my practice to social media about how I inspire people, how I’ve helped people, how people are jealous because I have their dream job. When I think about how I got here, it’s not like there was magic, or a template of how to do it, etc but I do fit the two criteria that I spoke about previously: I failed over and over, and I had a “yes” that while small, was probably the one that changed my trajectory.
When I started college, I had been “following the rules of accomplishment” my entire life. Any award you can think of, I earned it. Highest grade you could get, I got it. Any degree or letters available, I was in the running. Why? Because I thought that’s what made you successful in life! Accomplish all this stuff and you will make good money, have nice things, have little to worry about, and live happily ever after. Then I got to college where someone asked me what I wanted to do. Insert blank stare. I don’t know what I said but I thought to myself how I know I could do extremely well in any degree, just tell me the most difficult and that’s the one I will pursue. Good thing for me, pursuing a medical degree also had components that I found myself extremely interested in.
In college, I always had a job, if not 2 to help pay for tuition. I took notes for disabled, I worked at the Finish Line, I was even a Bacardi girl. Yes, hanging out passing out free drinks after getting off my first job. In addition to working, I applied for every scholarship under the sun. Let’s just say that I spent more hours trying to prove why I was worthy of a donation than I care to admit. I failed over and over. I’m not exaggerating when I say OVER AND OVER. It may have been my first real sense of rejection. The kind that sort of says “You were great in your small town, but you’re in the big leagues now, and you aren’t good enough this time.” Ouch. I was terrified about the debt I would be graduating with and often contemplated leaving. (If I’m being honest, my mom forced me to take the SATs and apply to ONE college or else I wasn’t even going to go! That’s how much I was afraid of student loans!) Then one day I applied for something different. I applied to be accepted into a 400 level biology course that allowed you to study in Costa Rica. I specifically remember filling out the application asking myself why I was doing so. They had NEVER accepted anyone as a sophomore and I had barely even declared a major. Oh well, the worst they can say is “no, thanks.” As if I hadn’t heard that enough lately.
They didn’t say “no, thanks.” They said “congratulations on being accepted as the youngest person to get into this program.” I was PUMPED! I was going to study in the rain forest. Peace out! What I didn’t anticipate, but was how that one “yes,” would snowball. Not only did I make huge decisions about what I wanted after that trip, I met the people that I would then take my medical mission trips to Honduras with. I would then sit on the board of that organization. I would then have several experiences that primed me for the Peace Corps. I would then use those moments to get accepted to my doctoral program where I would teach anatomy and physiology labs. I used that degree to become the doctor I am today and the teaching experience to become a professor at our local college. I know who I am because the qualities that make me, me, drove me to the “yes” that changed my life. If they had said “no, thanks” I have no clue what might have happened. Would I have applied again? (probably), would I have given up?, would I have changed career directions? would I have quit college because of money?, would I have ever met the same people that led down the same path? I don’t know. But I do know that when you are being you, doing the things that make you, you, it all happens the way it’s supposed to. Those things may lead to perceived failure; however, the beauty of “doing you” is that you aren’t doing it to please others. You would’ve done the same thing if no one was watching. I have heard “no thanks” and failed many more times since then, I assure you. Those moments may matter just as much as the one “yes.” They open the door for that “yes.” Do you want to be successful? Be you, fail over and over, and be aware of the moment you may need to grab a hold. It could be the catalyst for everything to come.