Narrative of Life

Many of us grew up watching our parents. For some of us that meant hearing our parents complain about life. It meant listening to them complain about their jobs, the economy, or the government. Not only did we hear and listen to complaining. We were also witnesses. We were witnesses to the difficulties of adult life. We witnessed parents and other adults struggle. And, thus, they knew that the struggle was real.

 These difficulties, struggles, and the way with which they were dealt are foundational to who we are and the lens through which we view life. It tells us whether or not life is fair. It tells us about our destiny, the kind of life we will live, and the ceiling of our potential. Ultimately, it becomes an important factor as we form our own narrative about our own lives. Hopefully, the narrative that is created is one that is positive and lays a solid foundation from which one can launch a successful adult life. Unfortunately, this is often the case. And, one must be fully aware that reworking a narrative so that it is actually useful takes discipline and a real desire to change. Trust me, it is a lot of work.

 I am fortunate. The basis of my narrative was given to me by parents who chose to focus on and celebrate the bounty of life as opposed to being bent over by its struggles. My parents’ view of life is rooted in the idea that life itself is a blessing. Knowing this, it is not terribly surprising that my parents treated me as nothing less than a blessing. They never acted as if it were anything different to have a disabled child. Their attitude was very simple and straight forward. They simply believed that these were the cards they were dealt; so, now let’s play them. I never once heard them complain about having a disabled child. They never said it was not fair. They never viewed life as a series of challenges. They just out worked anybody and provided an amazing childhood for my sister and me. While simply living life to its fullest they were quietly helping me shape my own narrative.

 Now, I am fully aware that my description of my parents’ attitude my seem as though they were presenting a view of the world that can most nicely be described as unrealistic. That would be true except for the fact that my parents did not shield me from the hard knocks of life. I was aware of their hard work, determination, and grit. Boy, did they have a lot of each. Part of my family narrative should be about the effort that it takes to become successful and not just a picture of hope and opportunity. It would be incomplete without an understanding of all that it takes to achieve amazing success.

 Just like anything in life, you can change your narrative and by doing so change your perspective around life and its possibilities. The funny thing is that when I decided to go to USC my main goal was to meet new people. However, I thought that was a selfish reason. Today, when I look back it’s an incredible reason. Not only does being around amazing people start changing your narrative, you witness the positive routines, habits, and thought processes that factor into their success. Jim Rohn says that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. This is true for habits, routines, attitudes, work ethic, income, and other factors. So, by just adjusting your narrative, perspective, and relationships, you can change the trajectory of your life.

 I don’t know about you, but I find a certain comfort in knowing that one can change their narrative. I find solace in knowing that a narrative that may have been formed from hearing about and witnessing a series of struggles and difficulties is not set in stone. I also find hope in the knowledge that as the narrative changes so does the range of possibilities of one’s life. And so, I leave you with this- as you write your narrative make sure that it sets you up for future success. Your amazing life depends upon it.


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