Success is Adventure
It was just recently that I discovered what I want in life. As a kid I always knew it; I wanted adventure. Every day I went out looking for a new adventure, I would climb trees and playground obstacles, the roof of the school, apartment blocks or houses, I would make fires with my brother and build huts or discover new places. Climbing things gave me the ultimate feeling of adventure and I started dreaming about climbing something big one day – something as big as a mountain.
When I was about twelve years old I joined the boy scouts and I loved it, I absolutely loved it. Those Saturdays gave me all the adventure I was looking for, it was “the ultimate wildlife”. After a year or two, I stopped the boy scouts because I felt it was just not cool enough. However, the urge for adventure never left me and as the year went by I tried mountain biking, survival, canoeing, abseiling and all kinds of stuff. There was no point in being scared, all I ever wanted was to go into nature and have an adventure.
But because of the drama I got caught up in, the adult world took my attention away from the adventure. My dreams were dismissed because it was just not important enough. My life was now filled with divorce, heart breaks, bitterness, lawsuits, and sadness. This was an overlapping process which started with the breakup of my parents at age ten.
Looking back, I can clearly evaluate what happened within me. The adult world had extinguished my urge for adventure; it had killed my childhood dreams and replaced it with fear and depression.
During the drama around my parents’ divorce, I absorbed everything that happened. Although I was in the middle of it all, it was years later before I found out what caused the breakup. My dad was sent to jail for the things he did and so it was mentioned in the local newspaper. In no time everyone at school knew about it, and they bullied me for it. Now I did not only feel unsafe at school, but the home was neither a safe place anymore. Every one of my brothers and sisters was affected by it.
They bullied me relentlessly for about three years. I started to avoid school and created an attitude which I could hide behind. They bullied me for something that was anything but my responsibility and the bullying became part of my self-image. That was the real tragedy.
The feelings I developed as a child were mostly fear and sadness. Later on, this evolved into anxiety and anger. My circumstances suggested that it was me against the world, my belief system got crooked and became self-destructive. My attitude became rebellious and indifferent, but in truth, I was scared to death.
A belief system, as I have learned, is created in the subconscious mind. It is a collection of all your beliefs. Most of your beliefs are silent, you are not consciously aware of them. My parents raised me a Christian – something I never agreed on – however, it is my opinion that there is a lot of good essence in religion (every religion), but there are also a lot of side effects.
This blog is not about religion and therefore I am not going to discuss it in any depth, but what I do want to say is that in any religion the subconscious mind is consciously influenced by the stories and convictions of others. This is repeated and repeated until it is fixed in your subconscious and you believe it. It becomes truth to you.
Your self-image is established in exactly the same way. The things that are repeated frequently are the things you will consider to be true. Why? Because your subconscious mind is repeatedly convinced that this is a fact. This is probably the reason why it is so hard to convince someone of your beliefs unless their own beliefs are weak.
Of course, I didn’t know any of this on my first day of secondary school. It was the scariest day of my life. My confidence was as absent as my father, but something had changed.. my environment. Nobody knew about what happened, so I could just “start over”. I felt safe because my classmates gave me some sort of appreciation for my big mouth and rebel attitude.
That year I made some friends and I even met my first girlfriend. Life was good – for as long as it lasted. My environment gave me other signals which I wanted to believe. However, three years of being bullied left a deep scar on my personality. At home, it wasn’t getting any better.
We went from family guardian to family guardian and I was allowed to see my dad for two hours in a week under the sight of the family guardians. My mom was raising eight children by herself and was not able to fulfill our emotional needs. She herself was consumed by pain my father had caused and was running a crusade on him.
The superficial attention and appreciation I received from my friends made me feel like I was of some value. In order to maintain my attitude, I had to be a tough guy. Many times I would get in trouble because of my big mouth.
Deep inside I was just trying to cover up my brokenness. Then I broke up with my girlfriend because I believed I was not worthy of her and she deserved better. My grades dropped and I had to redo the year. My insecurities made me very sensitive to the influences of my friends; I always tried to fit in. This was the time I started smoking cigarettes, soon after – short before my 15th birthday – I smoked weed for the first time. Everything changed completely.
Weed made me feel invincible; I could escape reality so easy. It made me forget about my home situation, my insecurities and about feeling unsafe. The feeling of indifference prevailed. Some friends joined me, other left me behind, I couldn’t care less; ‘I had found my way out’.
School had zero priority in my life and I had to change school for the second time. My new class had many cultures, from Iraq to Africa and from Afghanistan to Bosnia. It was the best two year of my life. My weed habit and rebellious attitude made me surprisingly popular; I had many friends and even had a new girlfriend.
Somehow I achieved good enough grades to get a diploma and I could move on from here. My “new dream” was to become a car salesman, so I chose a study which could get me there. International Business Studies was the name of this vocational study and I actually liked it. For the first time I put in some effort for school, but due to poor priorities, I dropped out after one year.
Soon after, I’d hit rock bottom. My choices were based on survival of my ego – the rebel attitude. It was of course never sustainable because I was always dependent on my environment. My frail ego broke, actually, it shattered. This was the time where the death of my cousin and my grandma took place.
My mom never really knew how to have an emotional relationship with me, she was not aware of how I felt inside. I never opened up (to anyone) because I was convinced I would get hurt. Still, I knew that she loved me, and I told her everything. This was short after my 19th birthday – that’s when I went to rehab, that’s when I chose for a better life.
Never Give Up
Circumstances and other peoples’ opinions always controlled me. The spirit I had as a young boy was the opposite of what I had become. A trauma has big consequences on a developing mind. All the pain, uncertainty and rejection I experienced at a young age have now shaped me into a determined, diligent man. Now I am grateful for the events of the past because I now have a clear vision.
What does all this have to do with entrepreneurs? After I stopped identifying myself with the drama and started focusing on how to become the strongest version of myself, I found out that most of the successful people had a bad start in life, but you know what, they never gave up. If they had you wouldn’t know their names. Think of Eminem, Oprah Winfrey, Albert Einstein, Jim Carrey, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Branson, Jay-Z, Tony Robbins and Thomas Edison.
There are much more, I bet you are familiar with most of the names above. You would not have been familiar with them if those people had given up after they failed. The big achievers in life had struggles, they had hard times. Their stories might be very different from each other, but they have one thing in common: they never gave up.
The dream I had as a child is still alive. The dream never left me, in fact, throughout the years it has been shaping and becoming clearer to me. I don’t climb trees that often anymore and I haven’t climbed a mountain (yet), but the adventure is still driving me.
Adventure is exciting, life is an adventure. It means challenging myself to be the best version of me – to grow both physically and mentally. Adventure is to start a family and always put them first, to be the father that I needed. Maintaining and creating relationships is and adventure. It is committing to dreams and working towards them. Adventure means to start a business, to travel the world, to learn a new language, to finally finish that book you once started, to learn new habits and to help others achieve their goals.
The most successful people have overcome the hardest struggles. The reason they are successful is because they did not give up. Maybe it is time to make some changes and make different choices. Often times the things that scares you the most – like making that phone call, or quit your job, or tell the truth – are the things that give you the biggest return.
Have courage, choose your dream – write it down! Be completely honest about it. Don’t let fear hold you back and then, go after it! What was that thing you loved as a child? I bet you still love it.
Until next time.
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