I have often envied my friends and peers who I feel are “farther along” in life than I am. Constantly comparing myself to them, and feeling like I do not measure up, or that I have failed in life thus far. Folks, I cannot tell you how many times I have viewed my life this way. And every time I do, it makes me bitter, angry at myself, hopeless and sad.
Thankfully, I wasn’t feeling this way today. I have actually been in a great mood! The weather is gorgeous, so I’ve spent my afternoon outside taking care of some stuff. Not to mention my friend Melissa from England FaceTimed me, and we had a nice chat. She always makes me smile! Not to mention all the little British cultural things and sayings I learn from her make me chuckle too. It’s like we speak different languages and live in different worlds, haha. I talked to Mom and Dad too. And I’m going to FaceTime with my buddies Tony and Michael later tonight. Those guys are like my brothers. So thankfully I’ve been in a mostly happy mood today.
But on those days where I envy others because I feel like they’re farther ahead in life, or that I am a failure, it’s absolutely soul-crushing. Those especially bad days absolutely kick my ass. Although I think I just may have found a way to view life differently, and shift my mindset: by looking at life as though I am an underdog. I understand that I have had a great amount of help throughout my life to get to where I am, and I thank everyone who has helped me get to that point. But my life has always seemed to move slower than most people’s. I arrive at milestones later than other people. But I still get there and accomplish them. It takes me an extra step or two to accomplish things, but I do it. Perhaps this has something to do with my Cerebral Palsy, and other related obstacles? I don’t know. But I’m not going to use that as an excuse.
But I feel like truly embracing that underdog mindset will toughen me up, make me hungrier, and help me to appreciate the successes I do have, rather than leave me feeling bad for myself or feeling hopeless when life gets hard. I’ve been “soft” for a little while. It’s time I change that. And that starts with recognizing that I am an underdog. Even though I have a wonderful family and friends who have helped me out in life, and who have loved me unconditionally, now that I realize it, I feel like I’ve been an underdog from birth.
I was diagnosed with CP at two years old. I didn’t learn how to walk on my own until I was five years old. I had two painful surgeries on my hamstrings to help me grow properly. Most seem to complete their college educations at 22. I finally completed mine at 28 years old. Most seem to move out at 24-25 if not earlier. I moved out of my parents’ house in December of last year at 28 years old. A lot of people seem to be married and have kids by my age. I had my first serious, adult romantic relationship at 26 years old, but I’m not married and certainly don’t have any children as I inch closer to 30. Everything in my life has gone slower than everyone else’s.
But today was the first day I truly embraced that as normal. I am on no one else’s timetable but my own. So I need to focus on moving myself forward and becoming a better man in whatever way I can, and the hell with where society says I should be!
I offer encouragement to everyone reading this who feels like they have failed, or that they may be behind their peers in some way: It is absolutely okay to not be where everyone else is with life. It’s okay to be behind the eight ball at times. After all, if you or I were up with everyone, we’d be rushing through life and not truly appreciating the success and sweeter moments, when they do come along. And even though it may not feel like it, there are probably MANY, MANY more underdogs out there than you realize. Many people have to work harder to get to that next step. And it’s completely okay if you’re one of them. Continuing to keep your head up, and work hard when life isn’t fair is the hallmark of an underdog who makes it.
I also encourage you all to have faith in God when it seems like your life isn’t going right, or how you want it to go. You may work hard, and that’s awesome. But having faith in God is what will keep you anchored as you wait patiently for Him to open life’s next door. This morning, I read a faith-based devotional given to me by a former coworker who is a wonderful friend of mine. She’s a sweet lady. The message I saw in the devotional though? Continue to have faith in God and be patient with Him. Even when it seems like every way forward in life is closed to you. That message hit home for me, because it’s EXACTLY what I’m feeling at this point in my life. For everyone also feeling like that, know this: Faith in Him and perseverance will win out in the end.
To all my fellow underdogs out there, I’m with you. Whether life isn’t going well, you’re frustrated, sad, or you feel like giving up, DON’T. Continue to persevere, keep your head up and have faith. After all, victory in life, whatever that ends up being, is infinitely sweeter when it does come to you!