"You are responsible for your life. You can't keep blaming somebody else for your dysfunction. Life is really about moving on. " Oprah Winfrey.
This is a story of when I decided to take control of my life.
It all started for me back in 2012. I had been working at this restaurant 2+ years making a decent income. It was enough for me to cover my bills without too much stressing. I felt like life was good. Then things took a turn when the business went under new ownership. Slowly by slowly the business begun to fail and eventually everyone lost their job. This was devastating to me because I was a single mother and I needed to find another job asap otherwise my son and I will end up on the street. I kept looking for work, but I couldn't find anything. I got called in for interviews, but everything seemed to fall through. I never got any job offerings. Regardless, I knew I had to pay the bills otherwise we'd end up on the streets. So, I did some odd jobs here and there just to make ends meet but I still ended up short. It was then I decided to reach out to my older brother and see if he could help me out. The first month I was short $200 for rent and he came through for me. The second month I continue to hustle and still ended up short $180 and he helped me out. The third month came and I needed help with $200 towards rent. So, like the previous months, I called my brother to ask for help. He never responded. I kept calling and texting and never got any response from him. The due date came and passed and soon I got a notice from the leasing office saying that they would start eviction proceedings if I didn't pay what I owed plus the accumulated late fees. I took a picture of the notice and texted it to my brother. He called me back and told me he couldn't help me out. This crushed me because he was the only person I could rely on and I felt like he had betrayed me. I never understood why he couldn't help me out. I knew he was in a position to, but he just chose not to. So, I went and spoke to one of my dad's friend who loaned me the money and I was able to pay the rent plus what I owed in late fees. At this point, I resented my brother and I think at some point I swore I was never going to talk to him ever again. As stupid as it sounds now, I blamed him for my rent being late. My reasoning was if he could have just given me the $200, I wouldn't have incurred the extra fees.
A few days after I had paid my rent, he called me and said he and my dad were coming over to my house to talk to me. I was a little hesitant at first, but I let him come over. I wasn't quite sure what he wanted to talk about but was eager to find out. I would say this is the day my life took a turn for the better. My brother came and told me that he wasn't trying to be mean when he said he couldn't help me. He did sympathize with my situation but he also wanted me to learn something. He wanted me to learn how to fend for myself. At first I was like "what do you mean? I've been doing this since I was 21 years. This is the first time in 5 years that I have reached out to you for help." But he said something that really hit me hard. He said that he felt like I had become a little reluctant and dependent on him, that I wasn't putting in as much effort to get me out of the situation I was in. I wanted to deny this, but after thinking about it carefully, I realized he was right. I had actually become reluctant and I was always depending on him for the $200/month. I would hustle enough to short myself $200 because I knew if I called him about it, he will come through for me. It was at this point that he shared with me the fishing story.
For those who aren't familiar with the story, this is a story about two fishermen who fished to feed and provide for their families. I will call them John and Joseph. One day they were out fishing and a beggar walked up to them asking for fish because he was hungry. Joseph felt sorry for the beggar and reached out into their fishing baskets and grabbed a nice huge fish and when he was about to hand it to the beggar, John grabbed his elbow and pulled him back. John went ahead and told the beggar that the fish they had was for feeding their families and whatever they had left was for selling so they can buy clothing for their families. He told the beggar he couldn't give him any fish but he could teach him how to fish. The beggar was surprised with John's response and became a little hesitant. Nonetheless, he joined John and Joseph in the water. John patiently showed him how to make his own fishing pole out of a long stick and some string which he gave him. He showed him how to use a worm as bait, and how to cast his line far into the water and move it just right to attract fish.
The beggar never had much success at first. He struggled with it and started to get angry. He started to mutter to himself how much easier it would have been for him, if John and Joseph had been gracious and generous enough to give him some of their extra fish. He thought to himself, after all they have many baskets brimming with fat fish. No doubt they could spare one or two. Suddenly, he felt a tug on his line, and pulled out a fat fish. He was so happy he put the fish in his tattered clothes, clutched his fishing pole to his chest, and went to cook his lunch.
After he left, Joseph turned to John and asked him, "how could you do that?" he said. "Where is your compassion? You shouldn't have stopped me from feeding a hungry human being." John replied quietly saying, "Joseph, if you had given the beggar a fish, he would have eaten it quickly and the he would have been hungry again by tomorrow. By teaching him how to catch a fish, we taught him a skill which will last him a lifetime. Now he can get his own food and he will never go hungry again."
It was at this point that my brother decided that he was going to teach me how to fish and not hand me the fish. He told me that If I wanted to succeed in life, I need to stop giving excuses or finding blame in others. This was true because during this time I blamed the economy for my problems. I blamed my brother for not coming through for me. And my biggest excuse was I am a single parent and things are just super hard for single parents. It was at this point my brother gave me a serious reality check. He said, "Evrile, you are not the first and the last person to be a single parent. Being a single parent is not a disease and you need to get over it." In my head I was like, What?? But then I knew he made a good point. All those were just excuses I gave for not making my life better.
He said that I need to learn how to take responsibility for my own actions because everything that happens to us is as a result of what we put out. He told me that if I needed things to change, I needed to make changes starting from who I hang out with to what I do with my free time. He said that If I have made the choice that I want to be successful, I need to start associating with people who are also working towards similar goals. Most importantly he said that if I wanted to become successful, I need to learn from those who already are successful. It was clear at this point that everyone in my life was not successful and he advised me to start reading books written by successful people since that will be the only way for me to know what I need to do to achieve the level of success I needed. This is when I understood what tough love means. My brother did not hate me or didn't care about me. In fact, he cared so much about me that he was willing to share with me ways to become successful so I don't have to go borrowing money from anyone to take care of my responsibilities. It was quite a relief to me because all I was hearing from him was that I HAD HOPE. It wasn't too late for me to make the necessary changes to align myself with the kind of life that I desired for my son and I. It was here that he said he was going to send me some inspirational audio's by Jim Rohn and recommended two books that I needed to read; Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Richest man in Babylon by George Clason.
He went home and sent me the audio and I started listening to it immediately. And I can say this is the day I started to live life again because I finally got an idea of what my purpose was and I had made up my mind that I was going to take control of my life, stop with all the excuses, and start working on myself and towards my goals. This is the day I realized that no matter how hard life hits you, you have to get up and keep pushing on. Happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy even when things aren't going my way.
Just like my brother did for me, I want to assure anyone who's given up hope that there still is hope. You just have to realize that everything that has happened to you this far, is as a result of what you put out. And that shouldn't be taken negatively because all it means is that YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR LIFE. If you feel like your life isn't turning out the way you would like it to, sit down and think what it is you are doing to contribute to your current situation. Take ownership for your actions and make the choice to change because our choices are at the root of every one of our results. No one is to blame for how your life turn outs because you have the power to take control of your life by making choices that will align you with your goals and purpose.
THINK AND GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill