This is what I wish. I wish the best for my friends, family, and even my enemies. I hope you all find your path. I hope you have dreams and aspirations for the future. I hope that you have a goal and that you are not content until you check that goal off your list. Then I hope you make another. Life consists of us reaching our goals until we achieve our dreams.
Follow your own path. Do not let others choose it for you. The path that I took was not ideal to say the least. But I would not trade it for anything. I had one bad year in 26 years of life. But it took one bad year to learn what I was made of. The other 25 years I celebrated what has been an incredible life. Everything I’ve done, the good and the bad, has shaped me into who I am today. I’m incredibly happy with the person that I am today. We can all look back and regret some of the things that we have done but we have to move forward. You have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and realize all that you have.
So never give up on your dream. Follow your heart and create your own happiness. I’m sure some of you feel stuck right now. Maybe you feel like you’re in a dead-end job and that you’re going nowhere. Maybe you’re fed up with the same daily routine. Well switch it up a little bit. Take a new route to work. Maybe take the back roads, the scenic route. Introduce yourself to someone new. We can spend our whole lives talking about ourselves to others but take time to learn about that other person. Some of the best advice I ever got was to ask questions. You’ll never learn anything without asking questions. So take time to learn something new about that person.
So change it up. I would describe myself as very adventurous and I’m always up to try something new. So in those first 24 years there were so many things that I was able to do simply because when someone asked me if I wanted to try something I would always say yes. Even now people are trying to get me to do things that put me out of my comfort zone. On Saturday we were in North Carolina at a lake and there was a giant inflatable raft that my mom insisted that I get on. At first I refused because I’m now terrified of water because I can no longer swim but eventually I gave in. Once I was lifted up on there and sat down I wanted to sit there for the rest of the day. I was only until my dad came in with his feet covered in leeches and the leeches got all over the raft. But that’s besides the point. The point is is that I put myself out of my comfort zone and it made that day that much more enjoyable.
When you get off work today try something new. When I first started longboarding I was afraid and could barely move myself around and all I could think about was falling down on the hard pavement. This was different than waterskiing because I could pull myself through the wakes going about 70 mph and fall and not get a scrape on my body. But eventually that longboard became a part of me. I brought it with me everywhere and it was my main means of transportation. I rode it down parking garages and greased my bearings so that I could go faster and faster down hills.
Trying something new is going to be scary at first. But once you get over that fear you might find something that you love. I promised that this summer that I will try adaptive waterskiing. It terrifies me to think about. I can’t swim but I need to remember that I will have a life jacket on and all of the support around me. I picture myself not liking it but maybe it will be something that I love. I will never know if I do not try it. I just know that I am going to compare it to the real thing but I need to tell myself not to do that. This is something completely different and is a new chapter in my life. So although terrified I will try it.
At the end of this life I want you to be able to say, “I lived.” I want you to take advantage of everything this world has to offer. There are still some things that I wish that I would’ve done in those first 24 years that I will never do. I wish I would have snow skied out west, I wished that I would have danced more, I wish that I would’ve climbed a mountain. So make a list of all the things that you want to do in your life and start checking them off one by one. I promise to do as much as I can with my life despite my disability. On Friday I’m going to the dragstrip and going dragracing. That will be a first for me.
So my challenge to you is to live out your dreams. Make goals to start paving your way. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and start trying new things. Find new loves and new passions. So that at the end of your life you can look back and truly mean it when you say, “I lived.”